The 5th Annual Fast 50
11. Private Army
In the first Gulf War, there was one private contractor for every 50 soldiers, according to The New York Times; in the current iteration, the ratio is closer to one to eight, with contractors doing everything from laundry, cooking, and equipment maintenance to translation, construction, and prisoner interrogation. That increase is in itself a pretty vivid vision of the future. But the most dramatic shift has been in the use of armed private forces by the U.S. government to provide security in the war zone, a practice now so routine that it reaches all the way to the top: Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, is protected not by U.S. troops but by guards from Blackwater USA. Blackwater, based in the tiny town of Moyock, North Carolina, has become one of the largest private-security companies in Iraq and the world. Given the statistics at left on military privatization, president Gary Jackson is in for a very strong (and long) decade.
- There are 60 private security companies, with 25,000 contractors, now in Iraq.
- Blackwater has 1,300 contractors deployed worldwide and a database of 4,700 more.
- Blackwater trains an average of 500 law-enforcement and military personnel per week and has trained 50,000 to 75,000 U.S. Navy sailors.
- Private military contractors have lost 428 staffers in Iraq, with 3,963 injured.
- Blackwater's revenue growth:
2006-08: 100% to 200% annually