U.S. Military Logistics Contracting in Iraq

Project Overview

Over the past decade the U. S. military has relied upon hundreds of thousands of civilian contractors from around the world to assist its war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The growing reliance on private military companies is one of the most significant changes in military operations over the past two decades. Put simply, the U.S. is now dependent upon contracting firms and workers from countries as diverse as Bosnia, Turkey, the Philippines, India, Uganda, Columbia, Nepal, England, Australia, Hungary, Kuwait, and Sri Lanka to fight its wars.

To date most attention about this phenomenon has centered on the use of “mercenaries” and private security companies like Triple Canopy and Blackwater. But they are just part of a much broader privatized military industry whose activities range from combat and force protection, to strategic planning, to intelligence gathering and analysis, and logistics support. This last set of activities—military logistics outsourcing and the companies that provide it, such as Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR)—is less well known. However the majority of civilian contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan have worked for firms that provide logistical services, in particular under the Army’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) which was initiated in 1985. This work includes, but is not limited to: the construction, maintenance and operation of military bases, equipment maintenance, food service, transportation, and supply-chain management.

This project presents data on logistics contracting in Iraq that took place through the LOGCAP program. The data comes from the U.S. military’s first contractor census in fall 2007. Prior to this it did not systematically track the number of contractors working on its bases in the country. This contractor census was released following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by journalists, and can be accessed from the U.S. Central Command FOIA reading room.

In total over 136,000 civilian contractors were working in Iraq at the time, with nearly 49,000 falling under the LOGCAP umbrella. During this period KBR was the primary contractor under the LOGCAP III contract, which was awarded in 2001. KBR relied heavily upon an array of subcontractors, especially from Turkey and neighboring Gulf states, to fulfill task orders in Iraq. Its subcontractors, in turn, recruited labor from around the world, in particular South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and Southeast Europe. As one can see in the chart on the right, these workers, which the U.S. military refers to as “Third Country Nationals” (TCNs), made up the bulk of contractors (66%) in Iraq at the time. Next were U.S. citizens, which were roughly a quarter of the civilian workforce. This was followed by a much smaller number of Iraqis, referred to as “Local Nationals” (LNs) by the military.

On the following pages are several maps that highlight different aspects of LOGCAP contracting in Iraq. The base locations map details the name and locations of all U.S. bases where LOGCAP contracts were utilized at the time of the census. Though extensive, this is a subset of all U.S. bases in Iraq at the time. This map also allows the user to zoom in and view a satellite image of the geo-referenced location of the former base. The next map presents the spatial distribution of subcontracting companies by country. Following this are two summary maps that provide different cuts at contracting in Iraq: First, a base summary map details total contracts and contractors—broken down according to the three categories described above—for each base. Second, a subcontractor summary map provides information on bases, contracts, workers and services rendered, which is sortable by subcontracting firm. Finally, the contractor maps allow you to examine patterns of contractor employment on bases according to each of the three categories.