"Private contractors now constitute a “fifth” service along side the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Like the uniformed military, some fight and even die supporting the nation’s missions in those two countries. The latest survey from CENTCOM reports some 250,000 private contractors operating in that command’s area of responsibility. At the height of the U.S. deployment to Iraq, in 2007, there were more than 180,000 civilians employed by over 600 foreign companies in that country. As U.S. forces are withdrawn from Iraq, the number of supporting contractors is declining. However, with the troop surge in Afghanistan, the number of contractors in that country is rising sharply with the total expected to exceed the number of U.S. forces in that country."Read the rest of the news article in "Private Contractors Still Vital to Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan", Defense Professionals, June 21, 2010. Learn more about private military corporations.