Not Guardsmen, not soldiers. Volunteers.
I found these little tidbits at the Council on Foreign Relations Site.
There are 15-20,000 outsourced civilians in Iraq, tasked with:
- guarding officials, military installations, and supply convoys;
training local troops and police forces;
providing interrogators, translators, and transcribers;
maintaining and repairing vehicles and aircraft, including the guidance and surveillance systems on tanks and helicopters;
running logistics operations and supervising supply lines;
driving supply trucks that carry fuel and food;
providing warehousing and storage facilities;
setting up Internet access and maintaining computer systems;
preparing meals for the roughly 135,000 U.S. soldiers;
cleaning military facilities, including Army bases and offices;
and building housing.
Many of these things were done (for generations) in the past by the military Quartermaster Corps. But, apparently, it's cheaper to pay a company like... KBR or Halliburton to "take care" of our troops.
Apparently, we've been suckered into believing that it's more cost-effective to be overcharged (in the $M) than to hire urban kids at less than minimum wage (and hope they don't live long enough to get military retirement or healthcare benefits).
I can't forgive what is so obviously wrong in Iraq, but with our support units being outsourced, it's no wonder we're so far below recruitment numbers.
But what's especially troubling is that even in the event of a calamity such as Katrina, Washington doesn't support our troops.