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Riz Khan
US military contractors
Will the mistakes that plagued military contracting in Iraq be repeated in Afghanistan?
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2009 13:55 GMT

Will the mistakes that plagued US military contracting in Iraq be repeated in Afghanistan? [EPA]
There are currently 121,000 US contractors and 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

As a result of the coming 'surge', another 30,000 troops and 56,000 contractors are expected.

But US politicians are afraid that the mistakes that plagued military contracting in Iraq will be repeated in Afghanistan.

Will the shadow armies be required to protect the Afghan civilian population?

What are the chances that military contractors could cause major damage to America's mission in Afghanistan?

Will the Obama administration be able to prevent the waste, fraud and abuse seen in Iraq?

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In a globalised world, perhaps it was inevitable that private companies would become major players in diplomacy. But the fact is that contractors are doing the job that the state department, Pentagon and CIA once did on their own.

Recently the CIA announced that it had stopped using Blackwater (now known as Xe Services) to conduct raids and other special operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But some press reports say Xe Services are still at the centre of a secret programme in Karachi, Pakistan, where they plan assassinations of suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda members, among other operations.

On Monday's show we will discuss the role of US military contractors in Afghanistan as the US widens its footprint there.

Riz will be joined by Dov Zakheim, who was the comptroller of the US department of defence from 2001 to 2004. He was also the coordinator of civilian programmes in Afghanistan for the Pentagon from 2002 to 2004.

He is currently a senior vice-president at Booz Allen Hamilton, a private American consulting firm.

We will also be joined by Jeremy Scahill, the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, a frequent contributor to The Nation magazine and a correspondent for the national radio and TV programme Democracy Now!

This episode of the Riz Khan show can be seen live on Monday, December 21, 2009, at 2030GMT with repeats on Tuesday at 0030GMT, 0530GMT and 1130GMT.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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