Private Military Companies

what are they

  • firms developing a corporate identity
  • they have a brand name
  • they are distinct from vegabond mercenaries
  • inpromptu, covert, adhoc, short term
  • Ancient order of Froththrowers - tried to over throw the Seychelles

permanent core staff

  • the collect intelligence
  • the market
  • dynacore - has a reserve of spanish speakers if post castro cuba breaks down


  • combination of foreign and domestic ownership
  • mostly rooted in developed world
  • organized with lobbies (peace operations organization - US, security companies organization - UK)

who joins them

  • 3 classes
  1. pedigree - elite special forces
  2. third country nationals - fiji, Nepal, South Africa, Nepal
  3. Nationals (for example Sierre Leon company Life Guard most were natives)
  • half of the contractors in Iraq are Iraqis
  • they recruit from all levels of the rank structure - More Generals than the Pentagon

What do they do

  1. personal security
  2. convoy moves
  3. installation security (Saliden - protects Canadian Embassy in Kabul)
  4. demining (dyncore) all encompassing approach to mining (assessment, removal, education, rehabilitation, )
  5. training (NPRL Dyncore is the Big fish) - it won the Liberian contract and the Afghan National Police force

25% of high end private security firms have worked for humanitarian clients

US is largest consumer of private military groups in foreign operations

why do they exist?

  1. stem from the cold war
  2. stem from the desire for a greater number of boots on the ground
  3. avoidance of the expensive of caring and training a proper military and the political interests of a draft
  4. strategic deterrent
  5. bias toward technological solutions and away from manpower

the military is known best for Killing people and Breaking things
Why is the Army in Afghanistan?

prevents holes in the hierarchy

  • taking 50 sgts out of rotation or 50 colonels out of the war staff is highly disruptive
  • why not just use private forces

paradigms of security

  1. Acceptance line of security

#. deterrance

  1. Protection

1. Acceptance line of security

2. deterrance

3. Protection

it is lucrative

  • demining the world will cost 33 billion
  • private firms have already extracted over a billion from the US government in Iraq

paying the bills

  • executive outcomes in Sierra Leon closed because of cash flow problems
  • developed world states and IGO's as you client base reduces the financial risk
  • Developed states also give these companies legitimate


  • in a coup he took over Sierre Leon
  • He seized the microphone of the National radio
  • huge pot head


  • linking PMC's with NGO's distances them from mercanaries
  • previously called Les Affareses - the terrible ones

Indirect security

  • do they contribute to public security?
  • security sector reform is one way
  • they provide protection for the NGO's who build capacity which contributes to security
  • making the international presence possible without the stigma of military pressence
  • without security there can't be
  • presence
  • security
  • reconstruction
  • national building

Waiting Game

  • security of individuals is put on the back burner
  • protection tasks - PMC's are so focused on their job that they alienate the population
  • no US state Department official under Black Water's protection has died
  • 25 black water personnel have died and that is much more than many countries within the coalition of the willing


  • private military companies are often conflated with foreign armies
  • they allow nation building to proceed

Blackwater has a spinoff company called grey stone that is much more restrained


  • escalation of force incidences are followed by investigations
  • if PMC's use force they are not usually reprimanded
  • the burdon is on the Justice system to pick up the slack
  • in many cases they do not

indigenous personnel

  • there are more indigenous private firm personnel in Afghanistan than in the Afghan National Army
  • warlords have transformed their armies into corporations
  • In afghanistan recruitment from the population is very tribe specific
  • militias have escaped disarmourment by morphing into private security firms
  • these firms fill a vacuums between national forces in training and insurgents
  • are their implications for using PMC's to train the national army

What if PMC's deliver NGO services

  • expansion of their service requirements
  • respect their autonomy

the catch

  • many NGO's are reliant on state funding
  • MSF is 50% funded by the government
  • Oxfam is 30% funded by the government
  • Donald Rumsfeld said NGO's have to be embedded and are a force multiplier

Interagency Counter Insurgency Actors

+ Aid becomes further instrumentalized

  • where as NGO's want to avoid integration
  • PMC's have no problem integrating
  • the word humanitarian then becomes all the more stretched almost to the point of breaking the category

not for profit mercenaries

  • human rights implications would be less likely because the profit factor is removed - no cost cutting
  • furthermore personnel would be more focused on delivery than the bottom line


  • pendulem between private and public has swung back and forth
  • 19th century subcontracting was the norm
  • 20th century the state was the norm
  • 21st century market is redeveloping


  • contracts are more effective than law at holding people accountable
  • if a firm works for both an NGO and a state does an insurgency conflate the three and make everyone a target

do not buy the marketing lines of PSE

  • the number of NGO's using PSE is dropping rapidly
  • the have poisoned the well
  • PSE have violated Human Rights and that reputation is being extended to state armies
  • it is difficult to say whether these firms are priding themselves in doing good teams

long term

  • expanded into humanitarian assistance delivery
  • long term viability
  • diversity of locations
  • expanded lines of service (expanded product lines)
  • expand the line of service to make yourself look attractive to a buyout


  • humanitarian assistance delivery in contexts of strategic interests to states providing a 3D approach
  • left over conflicts - no strategic interests - NGO's operating under the humanitarian ethic

Is the french foreign legion and the Gerka's defined as mercenaries

  • what is the definition of a mercenary
  • are green card soldiers - mercenaries
  • motivated by profit and not tied to a state origion


  • A mercenary is a person who takes part in an armed conflict
  1. who is not a national of a Party to the conflict
  2. and "is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain
  3. and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party

special forces

  • they are not all special forces - there are tens of thousands of firms and there are definitely not tens of thousands of special forces

  • short term vs. long term incentive packages
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