There are a number of stories bubbling just below the surface that could become huge stories in twenty ten if a few things shift...
1) After all of the talk about Blackwater, KBR, and other contractors in Iraq, the story of contractors in Afghanistan has received limited coverage so far. The coming surge of troops in Afghanistan could be matched with 56,000 additional private contractors according to the Washington Post.
" That would bring the number of contractors in the country to anywhere from 130,000 to 160,000."
There are varying estimates of Afghanistan's population - estimated at 15 million in the mid 90's we now estimate that 28 million people in Afghanistan. If we use our highest estimate -- 28.4 million this would mean there would 1 US contractor for every 177 Afghan citizens.
"The CRS study says contractors made up 69 percent of the Pentagon's personnel in Afghanistan last December, a proportion that "apparently represented the highest recorded percentage of contractors used by the Defense Department in any conflict in the history of the United States."
We outsourced tech support, manufacturing, billing and now we've outsourced our war.
I keep having this dream where I wake up one morning and the US has announced a unilateral downsizing of our military. Our defense budget is going from $623 billion to $50 billion. We declare the wars won and we're coming home.
The balance of that money will pay down debt, create new technical schools for green energy, clean water, advanced technologies, etc. Students in the top 1% of their graduating class can attend these schools tuition free. Students in the top 5% can attend for $5k per semester. Everyone else can apply to Princeton and Harvard. Veterans can test into these school or consider other trade schools to be created. We come roaring back as a country and lead the world to a prosperous century.
A girl can dream can't she ;)
2) Stratfor outlook -
If you're not familiar with Stratfor you probably should be. They are sort of a civilian CIA offering global insights on conflicts to the public. They don't really have any biases as their clients pay them for their objective opinions.
Here's their end of year summary of the Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan/Pakistan region.....