Via TomDispatch on the staggering sum being passed from U.S. taxpayers to a handful of contracting corporations in the name of maintaining the Pentagon’s global “baseworld”:
Outside the United States, the Pentagon controls a collection of military bases unprecedented in history. With US troops gone from Iraq, it’s easy to forget that we probably still have about 1,000 military bases in other peoples’ lands.
The Pentagon has dispersed around $385 billion to private companies for work done outside the US since late 2001, mainly in that baseworld. That’s nearly double the entire State Department budget over the same period. Almost a third of the $385 billion has flowed into the coffers of just 10 top contractors, [with the largest amount going to] KBR, the former subsidiary of Halliburton.
Once upon a time, however, the military, not contractors, built the barracks, cleaned the clothes, and peeled the potatoes at these bases. This started to change during the Vietnam War, when Brown & Root, better known to critics as “Burn & Loot” (later KBR), began building major military installations in South Vietnam as part of a contractor consortium.
Pentagon spending on its baseworld has been marked by spiraling expenditures, the growing use of uncompetitive contracts and contracts lacking incentives to control costs, outright fraud, and the repeated awarding of non-competitive sweetheart contracts to companies with histories of fraud and abuse.
The $385 billion total is at best a rough estimate; the real totals are surely higher. And there’s been so much cost gouging that any attempt to catalog it across bases globally would be a mammoth effort. The $31-$60 billion in contracting fraud in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars alone, as calculated by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, suggests the global total could be astronomical.