$87 billion reconstruction request expected to fund contractors

The House of Representatives is expected to discuss President Bush’s request for $87 billion in funding for Iraq and Afghanistan Friday. Much of it would go to private contractors.

The government is heavily contracting out work in Iraq to reduce pressure on U.S. troops. According to the Washington Post, as much as one-third of the $4 billion a month already spent in Iraq is going to private contractors. That amount is expected to skyrocket if Congress approves Bush’s request.

In recent months, the focus of rebuilding Iraq has shifted from a military operation led by government employees to an effort headed by for-profit contractors.

While some of the contractors hired in Iraq have been used for police reinforcement, crimes-against-humanity investigations and for oil field protection, a large amount of the reconstruction effort will include rebuilding government buildings, sewer systems, water plants, roads and jails.

Bechtel Corp. of San Francisco is the prime contractor for the majority of the infrastructure reconstruction in Iraq, while Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Houston-based Halliburton Corp., has the job of rebuilding Iraq’s oil infrastructure.

Approximately 500 to 600 Caterpillar machines are in Iraq, Edwin Brockway, a manager in the defense and federal products division of Caterpillar, told the Washington Post. The company anticipates many more orders for bulldozers and pipe layers as private contractors are hired to rebuild sewer systems, water plants and roads in Iraq. More contracts for the reconstruction effort should be announced in the near future if Congress agrees to meet Bush’s request.