Originally published at TeleSur.
(Academi formerly known as Xe formerly known as Blackwater.)[T]he United States is preparing to ramp up its use of private contractors in Iraq, an unnamed senior U.S. government official said Wednesday.
“It is certain that there will have to be some number of contractors brought in for additional support,” the official told Reuters.
The official indicated the contractors will be used to support the roughly 1,750 troops in Iraq, along with diplomatic personnel. Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the numbers of private contractors have rivaled troop figures.
U.S. President Barack Obama recently doubled troop numbers and secured more military support from allies, while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has hinted more soldiers may be needed to directly fight the Islamic State group in the future.
By 2008, over 163,000 contractors were working for U.S. forces in Iraq, though that figure dropped as combat troops were pulled out. While contractors provide services ranging from cleaning U.S. facilities to providing catering, the use of military contractors has proved controversial.
In October, four ex-security contractors were found guilty of charges ranging from first degree murder to voluntary manslaughter stemming from a 2007 massacre in Baghdad
The private contractors showered a Baghdad square in gunfire while escorting a diplomatic convoy. At least 14 Iraqi civilians were killed. All four contractors worked for the private military company Blackwater, since renamed Academi.
Even after most combat troops left Iraq, U.S. diplomatic facilities remained guarded by military contractors such as Triple Canopy.
However, a second anonymous government source who spoke to Reuters Wednesday claimed new private contractors heading to Iraq will not be there to beef up security.