President Obama will send up to 450 more U.S. troops to Iraq to step up the training of local forces as they battle the Islamic State. The move will bring the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq to about 3,550.
There are about 5,000 mainly State Department contractors in Iraq which represents a relatively modest footprint as compared to previous years, where there were over 160,000 during the height of the fighting. There are also 54,000 civilian contractors working across the Middle East for US Central Command.
According to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, DOD spent $375 billion on contracts in 2011, up from $163 billion in 2000. “Between 2001 and 2011, dollars obligated to contract awards by DOD more than doubled, and contract spending outpaced growth in other DOD outlays,” CSIS found.
There are also mercenaries and private military contractors that are directly hired by the Iraq and Afghanistan government. In 2014, it was reported that 5000 mercenaries were hired by the Iraq government. The US has allegedly spent over $200 billion on contractors in both Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade. Now that the US administration has transferred many of these expenditures to the Iraqi government.
US veteran soldiers that become mercenaries still have veterans benefits.
Direct air attack costs are just the tip of the cost iceberg.