By John Lee.
Research by the Financial Times shows that the top 10 American and foreign contractors in Iraq have secured business worth at least $72 billion between them, with the total for all contractors coming in at $138 billion.
Top of the list is KBR (formerly Kellogg Brown and Root), which was once run by Dick Cheney. It was awarded at least $39.5bn in federal contracts related to the Iraq war over the past decade.
Kuwaiti companies Agility Logistics and the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation – are the second and third-biggest winners, securing contracts worth $7.2 billion and $6.3 billion respectively.
US Democratic senator Claire McCaskill said:
“These numbers are staggering ... In the last decade, we’ve seen billions in taxpayer money spent on services and projects that did little – sometimes nothing – to further our military mission."
A KBR spokesperson said the company "performed with honour and sacrifice in a hostile, complex, ambiguous and unpredictable environment", providing more than 1 billion meals and producing more than 25 billion gallons of drinkable water.
While the era of easy money may have ended for these contractors, says the article, that does not mean the boom times are over. In 2011, the US State Department estimated that it would pay $3bn over the next five years on its private security contracts to protect its massive embassy complex in Baghdad alone.
“Contractors are here to stay as real players,” says Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General of Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). “The opportunities in this field are shaped by the unpredictable rhythm of when a fragile state will fail.”
There are still 14,000 contractors, including 5,500 security guards, in Iraq even though the last US troops left at the end of 2011.
(Source: Financial Times)