Top ten private firms made $72bn from decade of Iraq War
New analysis by Financial Times shows scale of profits made by contractors during conflict
AMERICAN and foreign private contractors providing security and logistics have profited hugely from the Iraq War, with the top 10 firms securing business worth at least $72bn between them, says the Financial Times.
The paper's new analysis of the data, ten years after the US invaded on 20 March 2003, found the company to benefit most has been KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, once run by George W. Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney.
KBR – formerly known as Kellog, Brown and Root – earned $39.5bn as one of the businesses supplying everything from diplomatic security to toilet paper. Even at the height of the war, there were times when there were more private contractors than troops on the ground in Iraq.
The FT says the overwhelming majority of the cost of reconstruction – as well as invasion – has been borne by the US, which spent at least $138bn on the war, despite the Bush administration's belief at the outset that Iraq itself could pay for it.
And the expenditure is not over: in 2011, the US state department estimated it would spend $3bn on private security to protect its embassy in Baghdad alone. Contractors are still in demand, protecting the growing oil industry in the south around Basra.
Dan Goure, vice-president of the Lexington Institute, a national security think-tank, told the FT that the nature of companies benefiting from war had changed. "This is not my grandfather's military-industrial complex," he said. "There's not a single munitions producer in this list."
The second- and third-biggest beneficiaries were two Kuwaiti firms, Agility Logistics and the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, with contracts worth $7.2bn and $3.6bn respectively.
Democrat senator Claire McCaskill said the numbers were "staggering" and many of the contracts had done little or nothing to advance the US's military mission in Iraq.
KBR spokeswoman Marianne Gooch said the company had "performed with honour and sacrifice in a hostile, complex, ambiguous and unpredictable environment".