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Indeed, the withdrawal of military personnel has translated into a new spike in the ratio of contractors versus soldiers, which in December 2010 amounted to 71,143 and 47,300 respectively[17]. A huge resort to private military contractors has also characterized the latest British operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.Another indicator of the crucial role played by contractors in counterinsurgency efforts is the fact that, while not directly providing combat functions, U. contracted workforce has heavily suffered from casualties. To date, scholarly attention has almost exclusively focused on contractors hired by the U. Like the State Department and USAID, the British Foreign Office and Department for International Development have also significantly relied on private security personnel for the protection of their personnel abroad.To date, security contractors have largely monopolized scholarly attention.While this is understandable given the incidents involving contractors openly carrying arms and the concern for human right violations, contracted personnel supporting military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have performed a much larger variety of functions.

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Available figures refer to over 500 casualties among contracted personnel deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan between 20. counterparts in absolute terms, fatalities among UK contractors prove even more outstanding when compared to casualties among British soldiers, now amounting to 559 units[26]. For a number of reasons, the strategic effectiveness of operations based on such a massive contractor support also remains contentious.

Back in April 2004, it was the highly publicized killing and maiming of four employees of the firm Blackwater that triggered the first battle of Fallujah, the largest combat engagement since the end of major hostilities in Iraq[1].

Few months later, three CACI and Titan contractors working as translators and interrogators were found involved in prisoners’ abuse in Abu Ghraib[2].

In the first half of 2010, more contractors than uniformed personnel died in both Afghanistan and Iraq in the two theatres. Looking at contractors’ fatalities over the years shows a sharp increase in the human costs suffered by contractors, which have largely remained ignored by the broader public and have not been publicized by U. While the British Ministry of Defence has stated a commitment to outsource armed functions only in exceptional circumstances, it has also shown a strong willingness to privatize unarmed military support services.

Such figures are in danger of being grossly underestimated, as they comprise only fatalities filed to the U. At the moment of writing, the British Mo D has outsourced both home and overseas base support, transportation, weapon maintenance and communication[22].

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