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770 civilian contractors died in Iraq
Daily Breeze/Houston Chronicle
By David Ivanovich and Brett Clanton Houston Chronicle
January 29, 2007

Laboring in a war with no discernible front line, more than 770 civilian contractors have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003.

Statistics kept by the Labor Department indicate fatalities among civilian contractors working for American firms escalated rapidly late last year, with at least 301 dying in Iraq in 2006 -- including 124 in the final three months.

U.S. military deaths totaled 818 during the year, the Defense Department has reported.

Despite the danger, job seekers continue to flood contractors' offices with resumes.

Some 165,000 prospective employees contacted Houston-based Halliburton Co.'s KBR last year about job opportunities in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, company officials said. KBR now has half a million resumes on file.

And the recent troop "surge" announced by President Bush has prompted KBR to increase its hiring, company Chief Executive Officer Bill Utt said Friday.

The Pentagon estimates that 100,000 civilians are working for U.S.-based contractors in Iraq.

The civilians provide a wide variety of functions, from serving chow to interrogating prisoners.

The 100,000 figure is an estimate because, nearly four years into the war, the Pentagon is just now conducting its first survey to determine how many civilian contractors are working in Iraq.

And Pentagon officials, citing military regulations, don't track contractor deaths.

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