The US Army is to set up a new command to handle contracting operations, after a recent report said contracting problems had slowed military operations in Iraq.

The two-star command will hire 400 soldiers and 1,000 civilians over the next two to three years.

It will take up to ten years for the those personnel to gain enough training and experience to operate independently.

In November, former Pentagon acquisition chief Jacques Gansler reported while defence spending had more than doubled in eight years, the acquisition workforce shrank by about 100,000 staff.

Assistant secretary of the army for acquisition, logistics and technology Claude Bolton says the US has never been involved in an extended conflict that requires so much contractor support.

“We are currently addressing the need to expand, train, structure and empower our contracting personnel to support a full range of military operations,” he says.

The US has approx 160,000 contractors in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, representing about half the total force in the area.

By staff writer