At the height of the US occupation, a massive military presence in Iraq was bolstered by a huge number of contractors. Even when the military began leaving, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was openly talking about establishing a private, State Department-run “army” of contractors to fight in Iraq.
That army was created, and believe it or not it’s still in Iraq. It’s as big as ever too, even though the paperwork would suggest otherwise, as the State Department’s number of contractors has dropped from 12,500 to about 5,000 over 12 months. The Pentagon’s own contractors dropped from 6,624 in late 2012 to zero today.
The other contractors didn’t leave though, as their contracts were transferred to the Maliki government, and they’re all still doing basically what they’ve been doing, being a private army of contractors. They’re just Iraq’s army now.
The decline in violence after the end of the US occupation suggested this would be a safer job than it had been in years past. The spike in violence in 2013 and the growing war in Anbar Province this year have changed those plans, however.