The New York Times has a piece about military contracting in Afghanistan which notes how war risks are shifting to contractors:
Even dying is being outsourced here ... [the Afghanistan conflict] is a war where traditional military jobs, from mess hall cooks to base guards and convoy drivers, have increasingly been shifted to the private sector. Many American generals and diplomats have private contractors for their personal bodyguards. And along with the risks have come the consequences: More civilian contractors working for American companies than American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year for the first time during the war.
The war in Afghanistan is actually not so unusual in that regard as many commentators seem to think, because the U.S. military has used contractors extensively going back to before World War II. The Defense Base Act, which provides insurance coverage for civilian workers on defense contracts overseas, and which is cited several times in the NYT article, was passed in 1941.
So, military contracting in war, and private sector casualties, are nothing new.
To take one example, there were some 1,600 military contractors on Wake Island in the Pacific when the Japanese Empire attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Most of the contractors were from Morrison Knudson, a large construction company that was basically the KBR of its day. When the garrison on Wake surrendered to the Japanese on 23 December, the civilian contractors were taken away as prisoners of war along with the military, except for some who were kept on Wake to build fortifications for the Japanese. When those fortifications were finished, the Japanese executed the civilian prisoners. One of the men escaped briefly and etched a message on a coral rock to mark the spot where the Japanese killed "98 U.S. [civilian] P.W. 5-10-43." See more details about the incident here.
A little historical context always helps me to place the news in perspective.