by David Phinney
Monday June 5th 2023



Growing Numbers: More than 500 Contractor Deaths in Iraq

by David Phinney

Nov. 2, 2005 — The human cost of war in Iraq may be higher than previously thought, although the Pentagon has been slow in producing — or even counting — the number of casualties among civilians working for contractors in Iraq.

Even while Congress repeatedly asks for definitive numbers, most of us, i.e. journalists and other interested parties, have had to rely on the Web site Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a valued volunteer effort. That Web site has documented 278 fatalities with links to news stories about the deaths.

Now we find the number is even greater than previously thought, thanks to the latest report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The IG’s October 30, 2005 Quarterly Report to Congress states that non-Iraqi contractor deaths have reached 412 during the period from March 11, 2003 through September 30, 2005.

Those sacrifices continue climbing, according to one trustworthy second-hand source who cites the total has jumped “to 524 in the last couple weeks.” (Thank you, Seth.)

All of these various numbers are no solace to the families with loved ones now working in Iraq. Jana Crowder, who runs a the Web site American Contractors in Iraq, says she regularly hears from wives looking for their husbands. “Sometimes they haven’t heard from them in months,” she says, and the contractors and government are of little help in locating them.

Who knows what the husbands may be up to? A wild, lost weekend in Dubai? Or forgotten along some lonely Iraq highway.

Surely there are instances of attacks on contractors that go unreported. I got this e-mail from one truck driver about a Sept. 20 attack on a KBR convoy:

I was medevaced back to Anaconda (Balad Air Base) where I underwent three and a half hours of surgery. KBR never called my wife. I called her after I was out of surgery. I had been shot in the upper left leg, upper right leg (damaged the main artery and vein) and across the pelvic area. I had also been shot at least twice in the heart area but the vest stopped those rounds.

As for insurance data tracked by the U.S. Department of Labor, there have been 4,208 Defense Base Act death and injury claims filed since April 2003 — a 24 percent from the previous quarter.

Most of the contractors killed or injured listed as of now by Labor, which seems to be lagging behind the data used in the IG’s Quarterly Report to Congress, are non-U.S. citizens. Of the 147 U.S. citizens Labor lists as killed, 120 (82 percent) were American contractors, 12 (8 percent) were U.S. government or UN workers, ten (7 percent) were non-governmental organization workers, and five (3 percent) were journalists.

The U.S. Department of State sheds further light on the dangers facing U.S. personnel in Iraq with its own tracking system, which also is lagging behind the IG’s report. Of the 147 civilian deaths, the State Department reports that 117 were caused by “terrorist” action, 15 by vehicle accidents, 12 by other/natural causes, and 3 by homicide.


Reader Feedback

12 Responses to “Growing Numbers: More than 500 Contractor Deaths in Iraq”

  1. Cvisa says:

    Tim: assuming the mertic that the war against terrorism should be fought with “winnable battles,” pray tell, what are they, and what would you do if confronted with a seemingly “unwinnable battle” brought to us by the enemy? And how does leaving Iraq help us win the larger war on terror? Who do you think wins in Iraq if we leave; and why do you think we won’t have to fight those who win?I did not say we should withdraw from Iraq. I do think we should choose battles we can follow through on and have a chance at winning. An enemy did not bring this battle to us. Osama bin Laden and al Queda attacked us. Our government, at the request of the Bush administration, decided Iraq was an appropriate place to fight. I don’t claim to know what the best course of action is right now, whether withdrawal or more troops, but three things are quite clear to me: (1) we are losing in Iraq, (2) our invasion of and continued presence in Iraq have not furthered our interests in combatting terrorism, and (3) the terrible state of affairs in Iraq today was a completely a predictible consequence of our decision to invade.

  2. Dude says:

    Posted by: amy at February 2, 2007 10:18 PM
    I have been in Iraq for four years and have to say a little about this post above.If it was not for us CIVILIANS the military would not have the living conditions they have now.Not all of us are just over there for money,Its as a TEAM Together Everyone Achives More.

  3. Jesse Camacho says:

    I can take an oath to verify that what the folks above are saying is true. I also worked in Iraq and now work in Kuwait, still frequenting Iraq weekly, via Mercedez truck.
    I’ve seen so many supervisors, managers, and management, in general, who didn’t give a hoot about the people that worked in their department. The ones that did care were usually “black-balled” and transferred or given other jobs just to get them away. I’m not saying all supervisors are like this but the majority of them were. No people skills, no type of supervisory background experience, and plainly didn’t have any business being in charge of people.
    In closing, if you’re coming overseas to work as a contractor, be prepared to take lots of negative jargon. Don’t expect respect and courtesy, especially if you’re a truck driver. Know how to mind your p’s and q’s and stay away from the problem children. This was the only way I stayed insane and prevented myself from doing something I’d regret.

  4. RD ENGLE JR says:

    PLEASE,understand we take chances we shouldn’t all the time.I’ve been in and out of south america for three years in mexico for a one year. I do this because,i want to.Is it money driven sure..i like making alot of money in a short time.We all khow the danger of going out of secure suroundings.And if you don’t should not apply for the job.

  5. Steve Tatton says:

    I am a UK based heavy truck driver, can anybody give me any info on how to get a job out in the middle east.

  6. Barbara Dill says:

    Down sides? I think back when my husband told me he was going over to Iraq to work. I was horrified. I begged him not to go. But he did. He was there approx 18 months when he came home and killed himself. We were married 17 years and have a daughter.
    Please think long and hard before flying off to Iraq. You will see things there that your imagination couldn’t even make up. Horrible things. I always thought my husband was tough and strong. Apparently Iraq was stronger. Please be safe and love your families. Mine is shattered and that is the worst “down side” of them all. I hope and pray this doesn’t happen to anyone else. The pain that is left behind is unbearable. No amount of money is worth what I have lost.
    yours truly,

  7. CB says:

    I have been here only 18 months myself, Baghdad, and have had the opportunity to see and work with many good folks. There is the downside of course, but I continue to remind myself of my reasons for being here, and it’s not just for the money. Although the pay is above that of what we could earn in the US for the same type of work, it does come with many sacrifices. Just being away from the one’s we love is the greatest sacrifice of them all.
    But Being here, and taking full advantage of the opportunities available to anyone who would like to advance,is achievable. Not an easy task as we know, but obtainable with much perserverance if that is your desire, and if you posses the level of knowledge and experience you would be seeking to get into. So if there are those here who think that being in a war zone entitles us to a bit more than what we deserve, well as one writer earlier in this blog stated, take a look at the soldiers who stepped into this with much less than what we are being afforded.
    And yes, there are many more downsides here than there would be positive, but hey, we can leave anytime. So for now, those of us who are here, stay focused, and please stay safe. Don’t play Russian Roulette with bunker calls during incoming.

  8. james says:

    These people that have came on here and said the things they have not told the whole truth. i have been in Iraq for 4 years, 14 months as a soldier, now i have been here with kbr for 31 months. i am a recovery driver, what i do i go out and picked up down epuipment outside the bases. the work here is easy if you have to right Attitude, the complant about no one giving a ride didn’t say that there is a bus system here that works well to give him a ride. The complant about Contractor deaths in Iraq? Why do you think they pay us all the hazzard pay to work here? THIS IS A WAR ZONE PEOPLE DIE IN A WAR ZONE, ANY CIVILIAN CAN GO HOME AT ANYTIME. Now the the soldiers over here on their 3th and 4th tour here making a third of what we do. don’t have that choice, they don’t get vaction every 4 months. Over 3200 Soldier have lost their life over here. Civilians are over here for the money and that’s it cause no one would be over here if they was making what Soldiers do. So go cry to someone else, get over it we all have the choice.

  9. amy says:

    my husband is in iraq at anaconda. when he left tx he was suppose to be going to africa. can they just send u anywhere? he has been gone 3 weeks and i dont really know yet what he is doing or how safe he really is…any info would be greatly appreciated. please email me thanks amy

  10. rusty says:

    i am due in houston on the 11th. GOD BLESS thoes before me and the ones yet to come.

  11. Jessie Penick says:

    My husband leaves in the morning for a civilian contracting job in Iraq. He got a job as a “light wheel mechanic”. I would really, truely appreciate any and all information you all could give me. My main concern is his safety. As I understand it, he’ll be “permanently” placed for four months, then have a vacation, then do it all over again. So any information I can get on the type of housing he’ll have, food he’ll eat, any little detail you can think of.
    Thank you all so much! I’d prefer an email as I don’t know if I can find this site again! Ha ha ha.

  12. LB says:

    I’m thinking about going to Iraq to drive and would like to hear more about what it’s like from real people that have been there. Where is the best place to look for information. Or maybe speak with drivers back from there recently.

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