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GAO: “DoD Lacks Ability to Oversee Contractors”

[Matt writes at SOTUblog and recently joined The Right's Field — a blog focusing exclusively on the GOP field for president in '08.] 

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report that stated the Department of Defense "lacks the ability to oversee contractors." Too few military officials, the report says, are assigned to "ensure contract requirements are being met."

The 58-page GAO report is entitled "High-Level DOD Action Needed to Address Long-Standing Problems with Management and Oversight of Contractors Supporting Deployed Forces." Military officials and contractors stationed at home and abroad were interviewed for the report.

In response, the Pentagon created a new office under the assistant deputy undersecretary, reports the UPI.

The reliance on contractors is at, arguably, the highest levels ever. The First Persian Gulf War pales in comparison. 

The Defense Department has more than 60,000 support contractors in Iraq but no accurate tally of how many and where they are, according to the report.

"By way of contrast, an estimated 9,200 contractor personnel supported military operations in the 1991 Gulf War," the report states.

Recently, press reports stated that there were over 100,000 contractors operating in Iraq — a figure that did not include subcontractors. (The Iraq Study Group stated in their report that only 5,000 contractors were in Iraq. Only off by a factor of twenty.) The size of these pseudo-armies and other contractors are so large that they have become an indistinguishable cog in the war machine. 

"The Army estimates that because of their limited visibility over contractors at deployed locations and the government services they are entitled to, about $43 million is lost every year on free meals being provided to contractor employees who are also receiving a per diem allowance for food," the report states. [emphasis added]

With U.S. military involvement lasting three-and-a-half years, that is roughly $120 million lost over the course of the conflict — on free meals to contractors.

Come next week when the Democrats take over the reins of power in Washington, waste such as this will be an item of interest, to say the least. 

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And while Iraq descends into total chaos and more Americans die — 106 109 in the month of December to make it the bloodiest month of 2006 — Blackwater USA eyes a southern California site for another training facility. The proposed facility, in Potrero near San Diego, will be 824-acres. In an early approval process, the vote was 7-0 in favor.

Ten training areas would be developed in the southwestern and eastern portions of the site. Fifteen structures would be built. There would be 10 rifle ranges, five pistol ranges, an armory to store firearms and ammunition, four ship simulators and an urban simulation training area.

About 60 staff members would work at the center, which would serve about 300 students. Most students would stay in bunkhouses there for a week at a time.

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Finally, on a personal note, with this being the last Saturday in 2006, I just wanted to say thank you to the FDL readers who have been incredibly supportive and welcoming. It is hard to believe that this series is over eight months old. I hope everyone is having a good holiday season and wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year.

Catch you guys on the flipside in '07. 

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