Undercounting Contractor Casualties in Iraq
by David Isenberg at Huffington Post July 30, 2012
A new report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) provides some detail on the sacrifices made by private contractors who engaged in reconstruction or stabilization activities in Iraq between May 1, 2003, and August 31, 2010.
The total number includes 318 Americans (U.S. military, federal civilian employees, and U.S. civilian contractors), 111 third-country nationals, 271 Iraqis and 19 of unknown nationality who were working in support of the U.S. reconstruction or stabilization mission during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Of course, the actual total number, as opposed to the merely official one, is almost certainly higher, according to the report
For several reasons, an exact calculation is not possible. First, no agency managed a central database for reconstruction or stabilization casualties. Each U.S. government entity involved in Iraq’s reconstruction–the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of State (DoS), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)–maintained its own employee casualty database. The Department of Labor (DoL) maintains a database of civilian contractors of all nationalities that were killed in Iraq who worked for or were contracted by U.S.-based companies or were insured through U.S. insurance carriers and notified DoL through the Defense Base Act.
Second, the databases we could access often did not contain enough detail to confirm whether a casualty was stabilization- or reconstruction-related. For example, there were 1,047 military casualties where the type of mission could not be determined.
Finally, there was no central source of information on third-country nationals or Iraqi civilians killed while working on or in support of U.S. projects.
What the report, “The Human Toll Of Reconstruction Or Stabilization Operations During Operation Iraqi Freedom” does say is that “Americans suffered 44 percent of the total reconstruction or stabilization-related deaths, including 264 from the Department of Defense (37 percent) and 54 U.S. federal civilian employees and U.S. civilian contractors (8 percent).” So, looking just at the very limited subset of contractors working stabilization and reconstruction-related activities, you get 57 deaths.
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