With the Obama Administration having successfully transitioned public perception of the Iraq War into something in the past, the 50,000 US troops still on the ground are still engaging in combat missions, even if no one is calling them that officially anymore.
But less often mentioned are the massive army of private security contractors, tens of thousands of whom remain in Iraq and continue to go on largely as they have, fighting the same war they have been fighting for seven and a half years.
And that number is growing, not shrinking, and with the administration understandably reticent about letting the cat out of the bag by having US troops engaging in the most dangerous combat missions (lest they explain why combat soldiers who aren’t supposed to be there anymore are still getting kill in a war that was supposed to be over), those contractors are taking on an increasing share of the load.
It has hardly been secret that the State Department has been harranguing the Defense Department to give them heavy equipment with which to arm what is being called by officials a “small army,” nor that they intend to send this army on combat missions. But though this second army isn’t supposed to take over the war formally until after 2011, it seems they are already in many ways in place, and taking part in a war that many have been conned into believing is already over.