The addition of more than 600 additional troops in the coming weeks will bring the force management level to 5,262 U.S. troops.
NATO countries have contributed a few thousand troops to the Afghanistan mission since it began in 2001. As of May, there are almost 6,000 NATO troops based in Afghanistan, providing most of the contributions to the training mission.
As President Obama is also relying on large numbers of guns-for-hire. This formally, restricts the number of American “troops” sent overseas. Since 2009, the ratio of contractors to troops in war zones has increased from 1 to 1 to about 3 to 1.
Private military contractors perform tasks once thought to be inherently governmental, such as raising foreign armies, conducting intelligence analysis and trigger-pulling.
Today, 75 percent of U.S. forces in Afghanistan are contracted. Only about 10 percent of these contractors are armed, but this matters not. The greater point is that America is waging a war largely via contractors, and U.S. combat forces would be impotent without them. If this trend continues, we might see 80 or 90 percent of the force contracted in future wars.
Contracting is big business, too. In the 2014 fiscal year, the Pentagon obligated $285 billion to federal contracts—more money than all other government agencies received, combined. That’s equal to 8 percent of federal spending, and three and a half times Britain’s entire defense budget. About 45 percent of those contracts were for services, including private military contractors.
Today, more contractors are killed in combat than soldiers—a stunning turnaround from the start of the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, when fewer than 10 percent of casualties were contractors. By 2010, more contractors were dying than troops. However, the real number of contractor deaths —versus the “official” tally—remains unknown.
Most of those fighting for the United States abroad aren’t even Americans. Private military companies are multinational corporations that recruit globally. When I worked in the industry, my colleagues came from almost every continent. According to a recent Pentagon report, just over 33 percent of private military contractors in Afghanistan are U.S. citizens.
US Foreign Legion would be a cheaper and more effective solution as suggested in 2014 by Nextbigfuture
The creation of a formal U.S. Foreign Legion would address many of the issues caused by the current over-reliance on PMC (private military contractors) personnel for mission-critical functions. Such a military unit would place the use of military-style force squarely back within the proper control of the sovereign U.S. government and would appropriately recognize the efforts of those individuals who are currently serving U.S. interests without commensurate benefits. Lastly, such a force would enhance U.S. security interests abroad–through increases in oversight and control of PMC personnel–and would help reign in fraud and waste at a time when the U.S. government can afford neither.
A low-end annual estimate for the salaries of a 150,000 strong U.S. Foreign Legion would be anywhere from about $ 2.6 billion to $ 5.1 billion. The 7000 members of the french foreign legion get about $1500 per month which is the $2.7 billion figure. ($18,000 per year times 150,000 is $2.7 billion)
Let us say it is five times the French Foreign Legion rate and closer to the $100K in salary and benefits of a US soldier. This would still less than $15 billion per year. Triple that for constant training, supplies and equipment.
A US Legion would remove the middlemen (foreign governments or companies) from the equations. Legionnaires would work for the US and would not be as subject to the whims of the client governments. The Iraqi leaders replaced the US trained Iraqi officers with those who were politically loyal.
The French Foreign legion has French officers leading them. US Foreign legion would also have American officers leading.
The US already has a looser arrangement with 300 military advisors guiding forces in Syria. Thousands of US soldiers advising and supporting foreign troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.