Department of Defense's Use of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq: Background, Analysis, and Options for Congress [February 21, 2011] [open pdf - 297KB]
From the Document: "The United States relies on contractors to provide a wide variety of services in Afghanistan and Iraq, including armed security. While DOD [Department of Defense] has previously contracted for security in Bosnia and elsewhere, it appears that in Afghanistan and Iraq DOD is for the first time relying so heavily on armed contractors to provide security during combat or stability operations. Much of the attention given to private security contractors (PSCs) by Congress and the media is a result of numerous high-profile incidents in which security contractors have been accused of shooting civilians, using excessive force, being insensitive to local customs or beliefs, or otherwise behaving inappropriately. Some analysts believe that the use of contractors, particularly private security contractors, may have undermined U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. As of December 31, 2010, there were more than 27,000 private security contractor personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq, representing 17% of DOD's total contractor workforce in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since December 2009, the number of PSC personnel in Afghanistan has exceeded the number in Iraq. [...] This report examines current PSC trends in Afghanistan and Iraq, steps DOD has taken to improve oversight and management, and the impact using private security personnel can have on military operations. It also reviews steps Congress has taken to exercise oversight over the use of PSCs and includes options for Congress."
CRS Report for Congress, R40835