US Pushes Karzai to Double Private Security Contractors

With Attempted Ban in Tatters, US Looks to Grow Armed Contractors

It has been less than five months since Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced that the Afghan government was entirely banning all 40,000 private security forces in the country, with an eye toward recruiting the newly unemployed workers into the military.

Karzai’s ban ended in failure, of course, backing off the total ban in October as a result of US condemnations and saying NATO’s employees (which is to say most of the contractors) were exempt. By early December, Karzai announced he was scrapping the ban entirely, with some 25,000 still in their positions.

With his plan now embarrassingly in tatters, US officials are ratcheting up pressure once again. US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry is said to have demanded that Karzai approve the recruitment of another 25,000 new contractors.

Karzai is said to have opposed the move, which would not only undo what little reduction in the security forces he managed before but would leave Afghanistan with an even larger contractor force than before. As we have seen before, however, what the US wants, it usually gets, and Karzai’s objection means next to nothing.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.