Outsourcing the War:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Using Private Military and Security Firms
This paper intends to outline how private military contractors and private security firms either are a boost to or are a hindrance to the military and government during war or contingency operations. This paper will compare and contrast the positive roles that private military companies (PMCs) and private security contractors (PSCs) play in support of critical government functions. This paper will also outline in detail how private military companies and private security contractors are a detriment to the military and the government. Most of the information is relative to the last thirteen years that United States and NATO forces have spent fighting the war on terror in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
What exactly are private military companies and private security contractors? Are these agencies equivalent to private military firms (PMFs)? The definition of a private military company is “legally established international firms offering services that involve the potential to exercise force in a systematic way and by military or paramilitary means, as well as the enhancement, the transfer, the facilitation, the deterrence, or the defusing of this potential, or the knowledge required to implement it, to clients.” (Ortiz, 2010) The definition of a private security contractor is”an employee of a private corporation that guards personnel, facilities, or properties, and any other functions which necessitate the use of armaments through a governmental contract.” (Jones, 2012) The definitions for private military companies and private security contractor vary from one website to another and the industry cannot come up with a common definition. One thing to note is that private military companies, private security contractors, private military security companies and private military firms are mostly interchangeable terms that the security industry uses to cover all aspects of the industry of private security. Primarily, the acronym PMC sees the most use consistently within the industry. Private military companies really took hold in the early 1980’s and picked up the pace right after the end of the Cold War and Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Additionally, the use of the term “mercenary” which private security and military contractors are considered to be, does not apply in today’s world by definition. Therefore, contractors are not mercenaries for the purposes of this paper.
Private military companies and private security contractors have been around since before the birth of Christ. The earliest recorded use of privately paid military goes back to King Shulgi of Ur circa (2094-2047 B.C.) King David used mercenaries to expel Philistines in 1000 B.C. The Greeks, the Romans and Alexander the Great all utilized hired military to fight their battles. Even Britain used hired military to put down the rebellion that we...