Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Afghanistan and Iraq: 2007-2018

Throughout its history, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on contractors to support a wide range of military operations. Operations over the last thirty years have highlighted the critical role that contractors play in supporting U.S. troops—both in terms of the number of contractors and the type of work being performed. During recent U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, contractors often accounted for 50% or more of the total DOD presence in-country.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2018, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported 49,451 contractor personnel working for DOD within its area of responsibility, which included 28,189 individuals located in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. From FY2009 to FY2018, obligations for all DOD-funded contracts performed within the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation totaled approximately $208 billion in FY2019 dollars.

In late 2017, the DOD stopped reporting the number of U.S. military personnel deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria as part of its quarterly manpower reports and in other official releases. These data remain withheld.

Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Afghanistan and Iraq: 2007-2018

Updated May 10, 2019 (R44116)
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Contents

Summary

Throughout its history, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied on contractors to support a wide range of military operations. Operations over the last thirty years have highlighted the critical role that contractors play in supporting U.S. troops—both in terms of the number of contractors and the type of work being performed. During recent U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, contractors often accounted for 50% or more of the total DOD presence in-country.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2018, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported 49,451 contractor personnel working for DOD within its area of responsibility, which included 28,189 individuals located in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. From FY2009 to FY2018, obligations for all DOD-funded contracts performed within the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation totaled approximately $208 billion in FY2019 dollars.

In late 2017, the DOD stopped reporting the number of U.S. military personnel deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria as part of its quarterly manpower reports and in other official releases. These data remain withheld.


Introduction

This report provides background information for Congress on the levels of Department of Defense (DOD) military servicemembers and contractor personnel deployed in support of prior and ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. For more information on DOD's use of contractor personnel, see CRS In Focus IF10600, Defense Primer: Department of Defense Contractors, by Heidi M. Peters and Moshe Schwartz and CRS Report R43074, Department of Defense's Use of Contractors to Support Military Operations: Background, Analysis, and Issues for Congress, by Moshe Schwartz.

The Role of Contractors in Military Operations

Throughout its history, DOD has relied on contractors to support a wide range of military operations. Operations over the past 30 years have highlighted the critical role that contractors play in supporting U.S. military servicemembers, both in terms of the number of contractors and the type of work being performed. During recent U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, contractors frequently averaged 50% or more of the total DOD presence in-country.

Definition: Defense Contractors

The Code of Federal Regulations defines a defense contractor as "any individual, firm, corporation, partnership, or other legal non-federal entity that enters into a contract directly with the DOD to furnish services, supplies, or construction."1

Within the defense policy community, the term contractor is commonly used in two different contexts. The word can describe the private companies with which DOD contracts to obtain goods and services. It can also describe individuals hired by DOD – usually through private companies, which are also considered contractors in the previous context – to perform specific tasks. The term contractor does not refer to military servicemembers, civilian DOD career employees, or civilian political appointees.

This report uses contractor to describe individual contractors hired through DOD-funded contracts. These individuals may provide a wide range of services to the DOD, from transportation, construction, and base support, to intelligence analysis, translation, interpretation, and private security support.

Tracking Contractors During Contingency Operations

Since 2008, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has published quarterly contractor census reports that provide aggregated data – including elements such as mission category and nationality – on contractors employed through DOD-funded contracts who are physically located within the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

Analysts and observers have previously raised questions about the reliability of the data gathered by DOD regarding the number of contractors it employs in theater in support of military operations.2 DOD officials, however, have stated that since 2009, the DOD has implemented a variety of mechanisms to improve the reliability of contractor data it gathers, including modifications to information technology systems, such as data collection systems like the joint Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker (SPOT) database; updates and changes to related departmental policies; and changes in "leadership emphasis" within DOD and the combatant commands.3

For the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, CENTCOM reported 49,451 contractor personnel working for DOD within its area of responsibility, which included 28,189 individuals located in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria (see Figure 1 and Figure 2).

From FY2009 to FY2018, obligations for all DOD-funded contracts performed within the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation totaled approximately $208 billion in FY2019 dollars (see Table 5).4

Force Management Levels for Deployed U.S. Armed Forces

Force management levels, sometimes also described as troop caps, troop ceilings, or force manning levels, have historically been used by the United States to establish bounds on the number of military personnel that may be deployed in a country or region.

The executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government have used force management levels to guide the execution of certain overseas U.S. military operations, as well as the associated presence of DOD personnel. During the 1980s, for example, Congress used provisions within annual appropriations legislation to establish force management levels limiting the number of active duty U.S. military personnel stationed ashore in Europe.5 The Obama Administration used force management levels to manage its drawdown of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, and to manage the U.S. military presence in Iraq and Syria under Operation Inherent Resolve.6 The Trump Administration has reportedly delegated the authority to establish force management levels for Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria to the Secretary of Defense.7

In August 2017, the DOD announced that it was revising its force management level accounting and reporting practices for Afghanistan to also include U.S. Armed Forces personnel in-country for short-duration missions, personnel in a temporary duty status, personnel assigned to combat support agencies, and forces assigned to the material recovery element and the Resolute Support sustainment brigade in reported totals.8

In late 2017, the Defense Department stopped reporting the number of U.S. military personnel deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria as part of its quarterly manpower reports and in other official releases. These data remain withheld, leading to criticism from some observers and Members of Congress.9

DOD Usage of Contractors During Ongoing Military Operations

Some observers and experts argued that external "resource limits" of force management levels may have increased DOD's "reliance on…contractor and temporary duty personnel" to effectively execute ongoing military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.10 In February 2017, U.S. Army General John Nicholson, then Commander of the NATO Resolute Support Mission and United States Forces–Afghanistan, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that DOD had to "substitute contractors for soldiers in order to meet the force manning levels" in Afghanistan.11 While the drawdown of U.S. forces contributed to a demonstrable increase in the ratio of contractors to uniformed servicemembers in Afghanistan between 2012 and 2017, it is difficult to assess if the increased ratio supported General Nicholson's assertion.

The House-passed version of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R. 2810) contained a provision (Section 923) that would have expressed the sense of Congress that the DOD should discourage the practice of substituting contractor personnel for available members of the Armed Forces when a unit deploys overseas. This section also would have required the Secretary of Defense to provide a related briefing to the congressional defense committees. A similar provision was not included in the Senate amendment to H.R. 2810. While the House receded in conference, the conferees directed the Secretary of Defense to provide a briefing detailing steps taken by DOD to revise deployment guidelines to ensure readiness, unit cohesion, and maintenance were prioritized, as well as the Secretary of Defense's plan to establish a policy to avoid the practice of directly substituting contractor personnel for U.S. military personnel when practicable in the future.

Concern about DOD's use of contractors in contingency operations predates the recent usage of force management levels. For example, the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, in its 2011 final report to Congress, expressed its view that operations in Iraq and Afghanistan between FY2002 and FY2011 had led to an "unhealthy over-reliance" on contractors by DOD, Department of State, and USAID.12

Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq

In Iraq and Afghanistan, armed and unarmed private security contractors have been employed to provide services such as protecting fixed locations; guarding traveling convoys; providing security escorts; and training police and military personnel. The number of private security contractor employees working for DOD in Iraq and Afghanistan has fluctuated significantly over time, and is dependent on a variety of factors, including current force management levels in-country and U.S. operational needs.

The presence of private security contractors peaked in Afghanistan in 2012 at more than 28,000 individuals and in Iraq in 2009 at more than 15,000 individuals. For the fourth quarter of FY2018, DOD reported 4,172 private security contractors in Afghanistan, with 2,397 categorized as armed private security contractors (see Table 2). DOD reported 418 security contractor personnel in Iraq and Syria during the same period, none of whom were identified as armed private security contractors (see Table 4).

U.S. Armed Forces and Contractor Personnel in Afghanistan

As of the fourth quarter of FY2018, 25,239 DOD contractor personnel were located in Afghanistan (see Table 1).13 Approximately 44% of DOD's reported individual contractors were U.S. citizens (10,989), approximately 42% were third-country nationals (10,628), and roughly 14% were local nationals (3,622). Of the 25,239 DOD contractor personnel, about 9% were armed private security contractors (2,397).

As of May 2019, observers and analysts estimated the number of U.S. Armed Forces personnel in Afghanistan to be between 14,000 and 15,000.14 Reports in early 2019 indicate the Trump Administration may be contemplating withdrawing some portion of in-country U.S. forces (a subject of ongoing U.S.-Taliban negotiations). U.S. officials have stated that no final policy decision has been made.15

Figure 1. U.S. Armed Forces and Contractor Personnel in Afghanistan

Q4 FY2007-Q4 FY2018

Source: Contractor levels drawn from CENTCOM Quarterly Contractor Census Reports; U.S. Armed Forces levels through Q4 FY2017 drawn from "Boots on the Ground" monthly reports to Congress.

Notes: DOD did not begin releasing data on contractors in CENTCOM until Q4 FY2007. U.S. Armed Forces levels include all active and reserve component personnel.

Table 1. U.S. Armed Forces and Contractor Personnel in Afghanistan

(Q4 FY2007-Q4 FY2018)

 

U.S. Armed Forces

Total Contractors

U.S. Nationals Contractors

Foreign and Host Country National Contractors

Q4 FY2007

24,056

29,473

3,387

26,086

Q1 FY2008

24,780

36,520

5,153

31,367

Q2 FY2008

28,650

52,336

4,220

48,116

Q3 FY2008

33,902

41,232

4,724

36,508

Q4 FY2008

33,450

68,252

5,405

62,847

Q1 FY2009

32,500

71,755

5,960

65,795

Q2 FY2009

38,350

68,197

9,378

58,819

Q3 FY2009

55,100

73,968

10,036

62,932

Q4 FY2009

62,300

104,101

9,322

94,779

Q1 FY2010

69,000

107,292

10,016

97,276

Q2 FY2010

79,100

112,092

16,081

96,011

Q3 FY2010

93,800

107,479

19,103

88,376

Q4 FY2010

96,600

70,599

20,874

49,725

Q1 FY2011

96,900

87,483

19,381

68,102

Q2 FY2011

99,800

90,339

20,413

69,926

Q3 FY2011

98,900

93,118

23,294

69,824

Q4 FY2011

98,200

101,789

23,190

78,599

Q1 FY2012

94,100

113,491

25,287

88,204

Q2 FY2012

88,200

117,227

34,765

82,462

Q3 FY2012

85,600

113,736

30,568

83,168

Q4 FY2012

76,500

109,564

31,814

77,750

Q1 FY2013

65,800

110,404

33,444

76,960

Q2 FY2013

65,700

107,796

33,107

74,689

Q3 FY2013

61,300

101,855

32,442

69,413

Q4 FY2013

55,800

85,528

27,188

58,340

Q1 FY2014

43,300

78,136,

23,763

54,373

Q2 FY2014

33,200

61,452

20,865

40,587

Q3 FY2014

31,400

51,489

17,404

34,085

Q4 FY2014

27,800

45,349

17,477

27,872

Q1 FY2015

10,600

39,609

14,222

25,387

Q2 FY2015

9,100

30,820

12,033

18,787

Q3 FY2015

9,060

28,931

10,019

18,912

Q4 FY2015

9,100

30,211

10,347

19,864

Q1 FY2016

8,930

30,455

10,151

20,304

Q2 FY2016

8,730

28,626

9,640

18,986

Q3 FY2016

9,365

26,435

8,837

17,598

Q4 FY2016

9,800

25,197

9,142

16,055

Q1 FY2017

9,200

26,022

9,474

16,548

Q2 FY2017

8,400

24,900

9,522

15,378

Q3 FY2017

8,300

23,525

9,436

14,089

Q4 FY2017

11,100a

23,659

9,418

14,241

Q1 FY2018

Not Available

26,043

10,189

15,854

Q2 FY2018

Not Available

26,647

10,891

15,756

Q3 FY2018

Not Available

26,922

10,128

16,794

Q4 FY2018

Not Available

25,239

10,989

14,250

Sources: Contractor levels drawn from CENTCOM Quarterly Contractor Census Reports; U.S. Armed Forces levels through Q4 FY2017 drawn from "Boots on the Ground" monthly reports to Congress.

Note: DOD did not begin releasing data on contractors in CENTCOM until Q4 FY2007. U.S. Armed Forces levels include all active and reserve component personnel.

a. In August 2017, DOD revised its force management level accounting and reporting practices for Afghanistan to include U.S. Armed Forces personnel in-country for short-duration missions, personnel in a temporary duty status, personnel assigned to combat support agencies, and forces assigned to the material recovery element and the Resolute Support sustainment brigade in reported totals. See U.S. Department of Defense, Press Operations, "Department of Defense Afghanistan Force Management Level Accounting and Reporting Practices Briefing by Pentagon Chief Spokesperson White and Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General McKenzie in the Pentagon Briefing Room," transcript, August 30, 2017.


Table 2. U.S. Armed Forces and Private Security Contractor Personnel in Afghanistan

(Q2 FY2008-Q4 FY2018)

 

U.S. Armed Forces

Total Private Security Contractorsa

U.S. National Private Security Contractors

Foreign and Host Country National Private Security Contractors

Q2 FY2008

28,650

6,982

167

6,815

Q3 FY2008

33,902

3,537

5

3,532

Q4 FY2008

33,450

3,847

9

3,838

Q1 FY2009

32,500

3,689

15

3,674

Q2 FY2009

38,350

4,373

17

4,356

Q3 FY2009

55,100

5,198

19

5,179

Q4 FY2009

62,300

11,423

76

11,347

Q1 FY2010

69,000

14,439

114

14,325

Q2 FY2010

79,100

16,733

140

16,593

Q3 FY2010

93,800

17,932

152

17,780

Q4 FY2010

96,600

18,869

197

18,672

Q1 FY2011

96,900

18,919

250

18,669

Q2 FY2011

99,800

18,971

250

18,721

Q3 FY2011

98,900

15,305

693

14,612

Q4 FY2011

98,200

21,544

603

20,941

Q1 FY2012

94,100

20,375

570

19,805

Q2 FY2012

88,200

26,612

519

26,093

Q3 FY2012

85,600

28,686

480

28,206

Q4 FY2012

76,500

18,914

2,014

16,850

Q1 FY2013

65,800

19,414

2,094

17,320

Q2 FY2013

65,700

17,993

1,378

16,615

Q3 FY2013

61,300

16,218

873

15,345

Q4 FY2013

55,800

14,056

844

13,212

Q1 FY2014

43,300

11,332

1,007

10,325

Q2 FY2014

33,200

5,591

641

4,950

Q3 FY2014

31,400

3,177

424

2,753

Q4 FY2014

27,800

2,472

252

2,220

Q1 FY2015

10,600

1,511

317

1,194

Q2 FY2015

9,100

1,525

398

1,127

Q3 FY2015

9,060

1,779

421

1,358

Q4 FY2015

9,100

1,655

312

1,343

Q1 FY2016

8,930

1,083

176

907

Q2 FY2016

8,730

872

125

747

Q3 FY2016

9,365

1,022

174

848

Q4 FY2016

9,800

813

145

668

Q1 FY2017

9,200

1,722

473

1,249

Q2 FY2017

8,400

1,816

436

1,380

Q3 FY2017

8,300

1,695

449

1,246

Q4 FY2017

11,100

1,829

493

1,336

Q1 FY2018

Not Available

1,867

426

1,441

Q2 FY2018

Not Available

1,932

416

1,516

Q3 FY2018

Not Available

2,002

746

1,256

Q4 FY2018

Not Available

2,397

364

2,033

Sources: Contractor levels drawn from CENTCOM Quarterly Contractor Census Reports; U.S. Armed Forces levels through Q4 FY2017 drawn from "Boots on the Ground" monthly reports to Congress.

Notes: DOD did not begin releasing data on private security contractor personnel levels within Afghanistan until Q2 FY2008. U.S. Armed Forces personnel levels include all active and reserve component personnel.

a. Includes most subcontractors and service contractors, armed and unarmed, hired by prime contractors under DOD contracts.


U.S. Armed Forces and Contractor Personnel in Iraq

DOD ceased publicly reporting numbers of DOD contractor personnel working in Iraq in December 2013, following the conclusion of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn), and the subsequent drawdown of DOD contractor personnel levels in Iraq.

In late 2014, in response in part to developing operations in the region, DOD reinitiated reporting broad estimates of DOD contractor personnel deployed in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). As the number of DOD contractor personnel in Iraq increased over the first six months of 2015, DOD resumed reporting exact numbers and primary mission categories of OIR contractor personnel in June 2015. In the second quarter of FY2018, DOD began reporting a combined total of contractor personnel physically located in Iraq and Syria.

As of the fourth quarter of FY2018, there were 6,318 DOD contractor personnel in Iraq and Syria (see Table 3). Approximately 49% of DOD's reported individual contractors were U.S. citizens (3,086), approximately 38% were third-country nationals (2,405); and roughly 13% were local/host-country nationals.16 As of FY2018, CENTCOM has not resumed reporting data on DOD-funded private security personnel in Iraq.

In December 2017, DOD indicated the number of U.S. Armed Forces personnel in Iraq was roughly 5,200, and indicated the number of U.S. Armed Forces personnel in Syria was approximately 2,000.17 In December 2018, President Donald J. Trump announced that U.S. forces had defeated the Islamic State and would leave Syria; however, in February 2019, the White House indicated that several hundred U.S. troops would remain in Syria.18

Figure 2. U.S. Armed Forces and Contractor Personnel in Iraq

(Q4 F72007-Q1 FY2014; Q1 FY2015-Q4 FY2018)

Source: Contractor levels drawn from CENTCOM Quarterly Contractor Census Reports; U.S. Armed Forces levels from Q4 FY2007-Q1 FY2012 drawn from "Boots on the Ground" monthly reports to Congress. U.S. Armed Forces levels for Q1 FY2015-Q4 FY2017 drawn from White House semiannual "War Powers Resolution Report" to Congress.

Notes: DOD did not begin releasing data on DOD-funded private security contractor personnel in CENTCOM until Q1 FY2008, and ceased reporting data on DOD-funded private security contractor personnel in Iraq in Q4 FY2013. As of Q4 FY2018, CENTCOM has not resumed reporting data on DOD-funded private security personnel in Iraq. U.S. force levels for Q4 FY2007-Q1 FY2012 include all active and reserve component personnel. See Table 3 for further discussion of recent U.S. Armed Forces and contractor levels in Iraq. As of Q2 FY2018, CENTCOM reports a combined total of contractor personnel physically located in Iraq and Syria.

Table 3. U.S. Armed Forces and Contractor Personnel in Iraq

(Q4 F72007-Q1 FY2014; Q1 FY2015-Q4 FY2018)

 

U.S. Armed Forces

Total Contractors

U.S. National Contractors

Foreign and Host Country National Contractors

Q4 FY2007

165,607

154,825

26,869

127,956

Q1 FY2008

161,783

163,591

31,325

132,266

Q2 FY2008

159,700

149,378

29,351

120,027

Q3 FY2008

153,300

162,428

29,611

132,817

Q4 FY2008

146,900

163,446

28,045

135,401

Q1 FY2009

148,500

148,050

39,262

108,788

Q2 FY2009

141,300

132,610

36,061

96,549

Q3 FY2009

134,500

119,706

31,541

88,165

Q4 FY2009

129,200

113,731

29,944

83,787

Q1 FY2010

114,300

100,035

27,843

72,192

Q2 FY2010

95,900

95,461

24,719

70,742

Q3 FY2010

88,320

79,621

22,761

56,860

Q4 FY2010

48,410

74,106

20,981

53,125

Q1 FY2011

47,305

71,142

19,943

51,199

Q2 FY2011

45,660

64,253

18,393

45,860

Q3 FY2011

46,010

62,689

18,900

43,789

Q4 FY2011

44,755

52,637

16,054

36,583

Q1 FY2012

11,445

23,886a

11,237

12,649

Q2 FY2012

10,967a

3,260

7,707

Q3 FY2012

7,336a

2,493

4,843

Q4 FY2012

9,000a

2,314

6,686

Q1 FY2013

8,449a

2,356

6,093

Q2 FY2013

7,905a

2,125

5,780

Q3 FY2013

7,735a

1,898

5,837

Q4 FY2013

6,624a

1,626

4,998

Q1 FY2014

3,234a

820

2,414

 

No Data on Contractors Released by CENTCOM from Q2 FY2014-Q4 FY2014

 

Q1 FY2015

Up to 3,100b

250 (est.)

No Data Available

No Data Available

Q2 FY2015

Up to 3,100b

600 (est.)

No Data Available

No Data Available

Q3 FY2015

Up to 3,550c

1,349

1,140

209

Q4 FY2015

Up to 3,550c

1,403

1,098

305

Q1 FY2016

Up to 3,550d

2,028

1,392

636

Q2 FY2016

Up to 3,550d

2,619

1,564

1,055

Q3 FY2016

Up to 4,087e

2,485

1,605

880

Q4 FY2016

Up to 4,087e

2,992

1,823

1,169

Q1 FY2017

Up to 5,262f

3,592

2,035

1,557

Q2 FY2017

Up to 5,262f

3,795

2,149

1,206

Q3 FY2017

Up to 5,262g

4,485

2,424

2,061

Q4 FY2017

Up to 5,262g

4,609

2,644

1,965

Q1 FY2018

Not Availableh

4,927

2,767

2,160

Contractor Personnel in Iraq and Syria

Q2 FY2018

Not Available

5,508

2,869

2,639

Q3 FY2018

Not Available

5,323

2,651

2,672

Q4 FY2018

Not Available

6,318

3,086

3,232

Sources: U.S. Armed Forces levels from Q4 FY2007-Q1 FY2012 are drawn from the DOD's "Boots on the Ground" monthly reports to Congress, and include all active and reserve component personnel. Force levels for Q1 FY2015-Q4 FY2017 are drawn from the White House's semiannual "War Powers Resolution Report" to Congress. All listed contractor levels are drawn from CENTCOM Quarterly Contractor Census Reports.

Notes: DOD did not begin releasing data on contractors in CENTCOM until the second half of 2007, and initially ceased reporting data on DOD contractor personnel in Iraq in December 2013.

Following the conclusion of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, the "Boots on the Ground" reports ceased providing separate force levels for Iraq. However, a residual U.S. force remained in county to provide embassy security and security cooperation assistance. Beginning in June 2014, in support of U.S. military operations against the Islamic State, additional U.S. military personnel were deployed to Iraq through OIR to advise and train Iraqi forces, serve as observers, and secure U.S. personnel and facilities.

In Q1 FY2015, CENTCOM resumed releasing data on DOD contractor personnel in Iraq. As the "Boots on the Ground" reports do not provide OIR force levels, CRS used the force management levels for Iraq reported biannually by the White House between December 2014 and June 2017, beginning with the December 2014 "Six Month Consolidated War Powers Resolution Report" and ending with the June 2017 "Supplemental Consolidated War Powers Resolution Report," to provide an indication of the number of U.S. forces estimated to be in Iraq during that period. As of December 2017, the "Supplemental Consolidated War Powers Resolution Report" no longer provides current force management levels for Iraq or Syria.

As of Q2 FY2018, CENTCOM reported a combined total of contractor personnel physically located in Iraq and Syria.

a. CENTCOM reported that DOD contractors in Iraq from Q1FY2012 through Q1FY2014 were supporting both U.S. Mission Iraq and the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq.

b. Force Management Level for Iraq, as reported by the White House Office of the Press Secretary, "Letter from the President—Six Month Consolidated War Powers Resolution Report," December 11, 2014, at https://www.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/11/letter-president-six-month-consolidated-war-powers-resolution-report.

c. Force Management Level for Iraq, as reported by the White House Office of the Press Secretary, "Letter from the President—Six Month Consolidated War Powers Resolution Report," June 11, 2015, at https://www.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/06/11/letter-president-six-month-consolidated-war-powers-resolution-report.

d. Force Management Level for Iraq, as reported by the White House Office of the Press Secretary, "Letter from the President—War Powers Resolution," December 11, 2015, at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/12/11/letter-president-war-powers-resolution.

e. Force Management Level for Iraq, as reported by the White House Office of the Press Secretary, "Letter from the President—War Powers Resolution," June 13, 2016, at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/06/13/letter-president-war-powers-resolution.

f. Force Management Level for Iraq, as reported by the White House Office of the Press Secretary, "Letter from the President—Supplemental 6-month War Powers Letter," December 5, 2016, at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/12/05/letter-president-supplemental-6-month-war-powers-letter.

g. Force Management Level for Iraq, as reported by the White House, "Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate," June 6, 2017, at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/text-letter-president-speaker-house-representatives-president-pro-tempore-senate/.

h. Beginning in December 2017, the "Supplemental Consolidated War Powers Resolution Reports" no longer provide current force management levels for Iraq or Syria. See for example "Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate," December 11, 2017, at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/text-letter-president-speaker-house-representatives-president-pro-tempore-senate-2/.


Table 4. U.S. Armed Forces and Private Security Contractors in Iraq

(Q1 FY2008-Q4 FY2013)

 

U.S. Armed Forces

Total Private Security Contractorsa

U.S. National Private Security Contractors

Foreign and Host Country National Private Security Contractors

Q1 FY2008

161,783

9,952

830

9,122

Q2 FY2008

159,700

7,259

515

6,744

Q3 FY2008

153,300

7,704

1,540

6,164

Q4 FY2008

146,900

10,446

886b

9,560

Q1 FY2009

148,500

9,218

727b

8,436

Q2 FY2009

141,300

12,942

681

12,261

Q3 FY2009

134,500

15,279

802

14,477

Q4 FY2009

129,200

12,684

670

12,014

Q1 FY2010

114,300

11,095

776

10,319

Q2 FY2010

95,900

11,610

1,081

10,529

Q3 FY2010

88,320

11,413

1,030

10,383

Q4 FY2010

48,410

11,628

1,017

10,611

Q1 FY2011

47,305

8,327

791

7,536

Q2 FY2011

45,660

9,207

917

8,290

Q3 FY2011

46,010

10,414

935

9,479

Q4 FY2011

44,755

9,554

844

8,710

Q1 FY2012

11,445

8,995

751

8,244

Q2 FY2012

3,577

288

3,289

Q3 FY2012

2,407

116

2,291

Q4 FY2012

2,116

102

2,014

Q1 FY2013

2,281

235

2,046

Q2 FY2013

2,359

259

2,100

Q3 FY2013

2,148

217

1,931

Q4 FY2013

2,409

147

2,262

Sources: Contractor levels drawn from CENTCOM Quarterly Contractor Census Reports; U.S. Armed Forces levels from Q1 FY2008-Q1 FY2012 drawn from "Boots on the Ground" monthly reports to Congress.

Notes: DOD did not begin releasing data on DOD-funded private security contractor personnel levels in CENTCOM until Q1 FY2008, and ceased reporting data on DOD-funded private security contractor personnel in Iraq in Q4 FY2013. As of Q4 FY2018, CENTCOM has not resumed reporting data on DOD-funded private security personnel in Iraq. See Table 3 for further discussion of recent U.S. Armed Forces and contractor levels in Iraq.

a. CENTCOM reported that DOD contractors in Iraq from December 2011 through December 2013 were supporting both U.S. Mission Iraq and the Office of Security Cooperation Iraq.

b. CENTCOM Quarterly Census Reports from Q4 FY2008 and Q1 FY2009 also included NATO coalition personnel in the reported totals of U.S. private security contractor personnel.

Table 5. DOD Contract Obligations in Iraq and Afghanistan Theaters of Operation

(FY2009-FY2018; in millions of FY2019 dollars)

 

Country

FY2009

FY2010

FY2011

FY2012

FY2013

FY2014

FY2015

FY2016

FY2017

FY2018

Total

Iraq Theater

Iraq

$10,958

$8,159

$5,320

$438

$563

$80

$259

$718

$1,181

$1,320

$28,996

 

Bahrain

$2,265

$628

$539

$346

$914

$218

$579

$708

$416

$370

$6,983

 

Kuwait

$6,026

$5,230

$4,127

$2,707

$3,254

$1,867

$2,077

$1,879

$2,146

$2,355

$31,668

 

Qatar

$917

$368

$871

$902

$448

$182

$341

$266

$507

$1,086

$5,888

 

Saudi Arabia

$1,024

$835

$321

$590

$997

$1,300

$2,160

$1,072

$1,002

$920

$10,221

 

Turkey

$323

$148

$193

$297

$199

$192

$211

$253

$199

$191

$2,205

 

UAE

$316

$2,756

$1,101

$1,521

$2,363

$1,820

$1,362

$1,500

$1,361

$1,408

$15,508

 

Oman

$88

$130

$148

$222

$237

$111

$129

$128

$73

$5

$1,272

 

Jordan

$15

$12

$41

$56

$183

$174

$211

$195

$153

$196

$1,238

Total, Iraq Theater

$21,933

$18,267

$12,661

$7,079

$9,156

$5,944

$7,330

$6,720

$7,039

$7,852

$103,980

Afghanistan Theater

Afghanistan

$8,483

$13,560

$18,892

$20,294

$15,583

$6,489

$3,420

$2,250

$3,212

$3,844

$96,026

 

Kazakhstan

$50

$69

$78

$81

$97

$60

$81

$37

$34

$44

$630

 

Kyrgyzstan

$388

$139

$939

$2,059

$2,095

$709

-$2

-$7

-$5

$1

$6,315

 

Pakistan

$263

$186

$67

$16

-$4

$25

$108

$55

$59

$46

$822

 

Tajikistan

$1

$4

$4

$9

$10

$8

$7

$0

$6

$2

$51

 

Turkmenistan

$10

$28

$11

$5

$14

$2

$0

$0

-$1

$0

$68

 

Uzbekistan

$10

$24

$17

$25

$20

$23

$33

$11

$9

$0

$172

Total, Afghanistan Theater

$9,204

$14,009

$20,008

$22,489

$17,814

$7,314

$3,648

$2,346

$3,314

$3,938

$104,084

Total, Iraq and Afghanistan Theaters

$31,137

$32,276

$32,669

$29,568

$26,970

$13,258

$10,978

$9,066

$10,353

$11,789

$208,063

Sources: Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), as of January 9, 2018 for FY2009-FY2018 data; CRS adjustments for inflation using deflators for converting into FY2019 dollars derived from Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), Department of Defense, National Defense Budget Estimates for FY 2019, "Department of Defense Deflators–TOA By Category 'Total Non-Pay,'" Table 5-5, pp. 60-61, April 2018.

Notes: Numbers may not add due to rounding. FPDS tracks the net amount of funds obligated or deobligated (i.e., a downward adjustment of reported contract obligations) by a contract transaction. If the net amount of a transaction is a deobligation, the transaction will be represented as a negative amount in FPDS.

Author Contact Information

Heidi M. Peters, Analyst in U.S. Defense Acquisition Policy ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])
Sofia Plagakis, Research Librarian ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])

Footnotes

1.

See 32 C.F.R. 158.3, "Definitions;" see also DOD Instruction 3020.41, Operational Contract Support (OCS), August 31, 2018, p. 48, at https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodi/302041p.pdf.

2.

See, for example, U.S. Government Accountability Office, Iraq and Afghanistan: DOD, State and USAID Face Continued Challenges in Tracking Contracts, Assistance Instruments, and Associated Personnel, GAO-11-1, October 1, 2010. For further discussions of efforts to improve DOD contractor management and oversight, see CRS Report R40764, Department of Defense Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq: Background and Analysis, by Moshe Schwartz and Joyprada Swain.

3.

Email correspondence with DOD official, received by CRS on September 7, 2016.

4.

Iraq areas of operation are defined by CRS as Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Jordan. Afghanistan areas of operation are defined by CRS as Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. In 2008, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a report (CBO, Contractors' Support of U.S. Operations in Iraq, August 2008) that tracked the U.S. government's obligations in the Iraqi theater from FY2005-FY2007 using Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) data that considered most countries bordering Iraq, with the exception of Iran, to be part of the Iraqi area of operations. CRS replicated CBO's methodology for defining the Iraq areas of operation for the purposes of this data analysis, and used a similar methodology in determining the approximate value of annual contract obligations in the Afghanistan areas of operation. The data used by CRS allocates place of performance based on the principal contract place of performance as identified by FPDS. Because FPDS only allows for one country to be listed as the place of performance, contracts listed as being performed in one country can also involve substantial performance in other countries. As such, activities undertaken primarily in other countries excluded from these definitions in support of U.S. operations in the Afghanistan and Iraq areas of operation (such as contracted activities undertaken at CENTCOM's headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida in support of U.S. operations within CENTCOM's area of responsibility) would not be included in this analysis. See also Appendix A, "FPDS Background, Accuracy Issues, and Future Plans" to CRS Report R44010, Defense Acquisitions: How and Where DOD Spends Its Contracting Dollars, by Moshe Schwartz, John F. Sargent Jr., and Christopher T. Mann, for an overview of known issues associated with FPDS data, including accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of the contract award data.

5.

See for example Section 799A of P.L. 97-377, enacted December 21, 1982. This provision was enacted in the larger context of congressional debate at the time regarding the perception that the United States' NATO allies should assume a greater percentage of the mutual defense investment burden.

6.

Established force management levels may be adjusted in response to operational needs or changing circumstances within a country or region, such as the Obama Administration's decision in July 2016 to maintain approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan through January 2017. See White House Office of the Press Secretary, "Statement by the President on Afghanistan," July 6, 2016, available at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/07/06/statement-president-afghanistan.

7.

See Luis Martinez, "Trump Gives Pentagon Authority to Set Troop Levels in Syria and Iraq," ABC News, April 26, 2017; Jim Garamone, "President Gives Mattis Authority to Set U.S. Troop Strength in Afghanistan," Defense Media Activity, June 14, 2017; and U.S. Department of Defense Press Release, "Statement by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Afghanistan Troop Levels," June 14, 2017. In a March 30, 2017 Los Angeles Times article, a DOD spokesperson reportedly noted that "[i]n order to maintain tactical surprise, ensure operational security and force protection, the coalition will not routinely announce or confirm information about the capabilities, force numbers, locations, or movement of forces in or out of Iraq and Syria."

8.

See U.S. Department of Defense, Press Operations, "Department of Defense Afghanistan Force Management Level Accounting and Reporting Practices Briefing by Pentagon Chief Spokesperson White and Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General McKenzie in the Pentagon Briefing Room," transcript, August 30, 2017.

9.

CRS October 26, 2018 correspondence with DOD officials; David Welna, "Pentagon Questioned over Blackout on War Zone Troop Numbers," NPR, July 3, 2018; and Tara Copp, "Pentagon strips Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria troop numbers from web," Military Times, April 9, 2018.

10.

See for example the statement as delivered and the prepared statement of Cary Russell, Director, Defense Capabilities and Management, GAO, "Overseas Contingency Operations: Observations on the Use of Force Management Levels in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria," before the U.S. Congress, House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Force Management Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: Readiness and Strategic Considerations, 114th Cong., 2nd sess., December 1, 2016.

11.

U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Armed Services, Situation in Afghanistan, 115th Cong., 1st sess., February 9, 2017. This concern was also echoed in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in December 2016, and in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Readiness on March 8, 2017.

12.

Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, "Transforming Wartime Contracting: Controlling Costs, Reducing Risks," final report of the Commission to Congress, August 2011, pp. 18-21. Available at https://cybercemetery.unt.edu/archive/cwc/20110929213922/http://www.wartimecontracting.gov/docs/CWC_FinalReport-highres.pdf.

13.

See Department of Defense, Contractor Support of U.S. Operations in the USCENTCOM Area of Responsibility, October 2018, at https://www.acq.osd.mil/log/PS/.CENTCOM_reports.html/5A_October_2018.pdf.

14.

See for example Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Mujib Mashal, "U.S. to Withdraw about 7,000 Troops from Afghanistan, Officials Say," The New York Times, December 20, 2018; Gordon Lubold and Jessica Donati, "Trump Orders Big Troop Reduction in Afghanistan," The Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2018; and Dan Lamothe and Josh Dawsey, "New Plans for Afghanistan Would Have Trump Withdrawing Fewer Troops," The Washington Post, January 8, 2019.

15.

For further discussion of U.S. operations in Afghanistan under Operation Freedom's Sentinel (OFS), which includes the NATO-led Resolute Support mission, see CRS Report R45122, Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy In Brief, by Clayton Thomas.

16.

See Department of Defense, Contractor Support of U.S. Operations in the USCENTCOM Area of Responsibility, October 2018, at https://www.acq.osd.mil/log/PS/.CENTCOM_reports.html/5A_October_2018.pdf.

17.

Jim Garamone, "Pentagon Announces Troop Levels in Iraq, Syria," Defense Media Activity, December 6, 2017. DOD has not released updated troop levels for Iraq or Syria; observers and analysts have typically referenced the December 2017 figures in subsequent discussions of U.S. Armed Forces levels in Iraq and Syria—see for example Tamer El-Ghobashy, "Trump's Decision on Syria is Worrying Allies in Iraq and Emboldening Opponents," The Washington Post, December 20, 2018 and Dion Nissenbaum, Nancy A. Youssef, and Vivian Salama, "In Shift, Trump Orders U.S. Troops Out of Syria," The Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2018. For further discussion of the U.S. and its coalition partners' efforts to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria under OIR, see CRS Report R43612, The Islamic State and U.S. Policy, by Christopher M. Blanchard and Carla E. Humud.

18.

CRS Report RL33487, Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response, coordinated by Carla E. Humud.