The army's other arm

American troops would be useless without all those civilian contractors

Barack Obama can hope all he wants, but here’s one thing the new U.S. President will never be able to change: the American military’s dependence on expensive, and sometimes shoddy, civilian contractors—including the infamous company once controlled by Dick Cheney. Travel to any U.S. military base in the world and you’ll see the letters KBR everywhere you turn. The Houston-based company, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, does everything from prepare meals to clean toilets to oversee billions of dollars worth of construction. Could the Pentagon do anything without KBR’s help? Absolutely not. (Interesting side note: the spokesman for logistical supplies at the largest American base in Iraq is a guy named Tim Horton.)