CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this week, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., questioned Army Secretary John McHugh and General Ray Odierno about the Army's increasing reliance on private military contractors.
Manchin wants military officials to cut contractors instead of reducing the number of regular troops, especially as debates about budget deficits continue.
The United States has 90,000 service members deployed in Afghanistan, Manchin said Thursday. But they are outnumbered by more than 113,000 private military contractors.
Many overseas contractors earn up to three times the amount that service members earn, Manchin said, for performing the same tasks.
Army officials are talking about cutting the number of their troops by more than 80,000 over the next five years.
During his tour of West Virginia in January, Manchin said he thought the large sums of money going to private military contractors are "sucking" the military dry.
"Especially in West Virginia, we have a hard time understanding why we would be cutting back the military men and women in uniform and not cutting back the contractors," Manchin said. "I can't figure that out."
During several hearings held about the Department of Defense budget over the past month, Manchin has repeatedly questioned military leaders about the growing reliance on expensive security and service contractors overseas.
Manchin argued American men and women in uniform are capable of performing the same jobs.