Decline of U.S. troops in Iraq to affect Peruvian contractors

Living in Peru
Jobana Soto

As the United States pulls more of its troops from Iraq, thousands of private contractors will face a steep decline in available jobs. Contractors hired from developing and third-world nations like Peru, Pakistan and Nepal, are just some of the countries that will have many of their workers going back to their homeland without a job.

Since the war started in 2003, contractors have held a steady job servicing the U.S. military, turning it into a multi-billion-dollar business. Many workers are brought to Iraq to aid the U.S. military in basic necessities such as scrubbing floors, driving trucks and serving food.

But all that is said to change now that the U.S. government is withdrawing more and more of its troops from the region in order to gradually shift the hands of power over to the Iraqi government.

A former soldier from Peru is one of the many examples. Before coming to Iraq in 2005, the soldier, who according to Reuters news agency asked not to be identified, was unable to afford much as a bodyguard for wealthy businessmen. When he left Peru to pursue a position at a private security firm in Iraq, the former bodyguard was making 60 percent more than his previous salary. He can now afford to pay his debts and send his children to private school.

More than 400 contractors have been killed while working in Iraqi since the start of the war. But for this Peruvian, the risks are well worth it.

Doug Brooks, head of the International Peace Operations Association, told Reuters “there’s a huge demand for these jobs,” especially when they pay five to 10 times more than what most workers would receive in their native countries.

But while the U.S. is looking towards the future – in 2011, their goal is to pull 143,000 of its soldiers from Iraq – contractor jobs are expected to decline since the demand is no longer there.