Private Military and Security Companies
The modern Private Military and Security Company (PMSC) came to be after the end of the Cold War. An increase in government interest in privatization and outsourcing combined with an age of warfare where civilians and combatants were increasing difficult to differentiate created the perfect environment for PMSCs to expand (Singer). Although PMSCs play an integral role in providing basic services for the United States military, the extent of their role must be reevaluated because they have been criticized for unscrupulous financial practices and lack of accountability and transparency.
To completely do away with PMSCs would be catastrophic to United States military personal because of the extensive logistical and support services they provide. US troops are stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the reluctance of congress to send more troops forces thousands of PMSC contractors to fill the holes. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a new landmark in the role of PMSCs in warfare, with 54% of the troops on the ground being private contractors hired by the Department of Defense and 46% being uniformed soldiers (Oliver). According to George Seagle, Director of Security for the Government and Infrastructure Division of Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), since 2003 KBR (a PMSC) has “served more than 490 million meals, transported more than 675 million gallons of fuel, delivered more than 220 million pounds of mail, and washed more than 30 million bundles of laundry.” Furthermore they often construct infrastructure such as housing and mess halls to feed troops. However, many times they are involved directly in conflict, designated as bodyguards, convoys, or trainers.
Although some PMSCs have been praised for accomplishing their tasks quickly and effectively, they have recently come under fire for questionable financial practices including waste spending, overcharging, and fraud. According to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a US House of Representatives organization, the PMSC Halliburton could not be considered a “responsible” company and should have its contracts suspended because of its wasteful practices in Iraq. The inspector general for the U.S. Coalition of Provisional Authority found Halliburton charged the government $2.85 million for hotel costs even though cheaper housing was available. A former logistician with Halliburton in Kuwait said that they had charged the government and ultimately the taxpayers an unbelievable $100 per 15-pound bag of laundry and $45 per pack of soda. Furthermore the Defense Contract Audit Agency found that Halliburton overcharged $212.3 million for fuel. The reason for privatization would be to cut costs by introducing free market principles and competition. However, in the case of PMSCs, the pitiful attempts of accountability and oversight have allowed unsaid millions – perhaps even billions – to fall down the cracks of wasteful expenditure. Even the exact costs...