The Role of Private Military Companies in a Counter Insurgency Strategy

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‘The role of Private Military Companies (PMCs) / Private Security Companies (PSCs) in a Counter-Insurgency Strategy’. The aim of this research was to review the roles of PMCs/PSCs in post war / conflict counter-insurgency environments to determine whether they have a future in the Twenty First century as legitimate government / organisational contractors. The research commenced with a detailed literature review to determine the history and origins of the PMC (PSC) market and provide an understanding of the context under which PMCs (PSCs) are contracted. It examined where such organisations have been employed since the Cold War and their key characteristics. Definition of the terms Mercenary, PMC, Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency were established. Primary data collection was conducted to determine the perception of users and members of PMCs working in hostile areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq. A questionnaire was sent out to 75 PMC/PSC security professionals, military personnel and ‘Other’ individuals who worked in international organisations and for companies who contract PMCs/PSCs for their various services. All respondents were currently working in, or had recently returned from, developing and high risk / high threat areas and all volunteered to provide their perception of the role and utility of PMCs / PSCs. The 46% response rate evenly spread across all three target populations was considered statistically valid. Subsequent analysis identified that PMCs/PSCs have a clear and valued role to play in C21st conflict areas particularly in security, logistics and language support and that there are opportunities for expansion of provision. The advantages and disadvantages of using such organisations were identified together with their management and oversight both now and in the future. PMCs/PSCs were clearly considered a more cost-effective means to provide support services and enabled skilled personnel to focus on their specialist / combat tasks. There was little support for the proposal that PMCs/PSCs could provide more direct combat support and concern was evident regarding the distinction between legitimate national armed forces and contracted mercenary support. Co-ordination between military and PMCs/PSCs has notably increased, although all parties would further benefit from awareness training prior to deployment. There is a requirement for further improvement in international accountability and regulation of PMC/PSC activity. Six recommendations were presented for further study in this area.

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This article considers the main directions of the activities of Western private military companies (PMCs) in the post-Soviet space. The end of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact led to the creation of an extensive arms market. The collapse of the Soviet army and the prolonged economic crisis frustrated a large number of former military personnel and made them ready to offer their professional skills to almost any solvent customer. The decay of the bipolar system of international relations has created vast zones of instability, mostly localized in Africa, the Balkans, and in the Middle East. The military security function no longer prevails in the largest Western PMCs. These corporations have significantly diversified their activities, thoughtfully excluded the word “military” from their names, and today provide customers with a wide range of services from cargo transportation and consulting to construction and geological exploration. Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, the post-Soviet space does not provide Western PMCs with any broad field for participation in peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations. Their contribution to the combat training of the armed forces of Georgia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan was limited to only a few episodes. However, the gradual penetration of Chinese military companies into the Central Asian region has become a fundamentally new phenomenon.
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Across the globe, from mega-cities to isolated resource enclaves, the provision and governance of security takes place within assemblages that are de-territorialized in terms of actors, technologies, norms and discourses. They are embedded in a complex transnational architecture, defying conventional distinctions between public and private, global and local. Drawing on theories of globalization and late modernity, along with insights from criminology, political science and sociology, Security Beyond the State maps the emergence of the global private security sector and develops a novel analytical framework for understanding these global security assemblages. Through in-depth examinations of four African countries – Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa – it demonstrates how global security assemblages affect the distribution of social power, the dynamics of state stability, and the operations of the international political economy, with significant implications for who gets secured and how in a global era.
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The Iraq War was a watershed regarding the scope of battlefield support by Private Security Companies (PSC). Skeptics soon raised concerns about these new actors being an impediment to the success of the very same operations they are meant to support. According to the critics, PSCs are grist to the mill for insurgents as they employ aggressive tactics and thereby alienate the population, cause credibility problems because they enjoy impunity, and increase coordination problems since they are not subordinated under the military chain of command. This article argues that this is not a necessary result of their employment, but rather the consequence of a lack of preparedness to operate alongside PSCs. However, the military is accustomed to adapting to new unexpected circumstances. Hence, when problems occurred, the armed forces underwent a trial and error learning process that improved PSC employment. The empirical picture supports this view. Initially, the counterinsurgency effort did indeed suffer from the actions, lack of oversight, and lack of coordination of PSCs. However, over the course of the Iraq War, most of the shortfalls were either improved significantly or even resolved.
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Incl. bibl., index.
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Frequently characterized as either mercenaries in modern guise or the market's response to security gaps, private military companies - commercial firms offering military services ranging from combat and military training and advice to logistical support - play an increasingly important role in armed conflicts, UN peace operations, and providing security in unstable states. Executive Outcomes turned around an orphaned conflict in Sierra Leone in the mid-1990s; Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI) was instrumental in shifting the balance of power in the Balkans, enabling the Croatian military to defeat Serb forces and clear the way for the Dayton negotiations; in Iraq, estimates of the number of private contractors on the ground are in the tens of thousands. As they assume more responsibilities in conflict and post-conflict settings, their growing significance raises fundamental questions about their nature, their role in different regions and contexts, and their regulation. This volume examines these issues with a focus on governance, in particular the interaction between regulation and market forces. It analyzes the current legal framework and the needs and possibilities for regulation in the years ahead. The book as a whole is organized around four sets of questions, which reflect the four parts of the book. First, why and how is regulation of PMCs now a challenging issue? Secondly, how have problems leading to a call for regulation manifested in different regions and contexts? Third, what regulatory norms and institutions currently exist and how effective are they? And, fourth, what role has the market to play in regulation?
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Public—Private Partnerships (PPPs) are becoming popular in Europe, but does the reality match the idea of co-operating actors who achieve added value together and share risks? An analysis of three PPPs in the Netherlands suggests that, in practice, PPPs are less ideal than the idea. Partners have difficulty with joint decision-making and organization and tend to revert to traditional forms—by contracting out and by separating responsibilities.
The past two decades have witnessed the rapid proliferation of private military and security companies (PMSCs) in armed conflicts around the world, with PMSCs participating in, for example, offensive combat, prisoner interrogation and the provision of advice and training. The extensive outsourcing of military and security activities has challenged conventional conceptions of the state as the primary holder of coercive power and raised concerns about the reduction in state control over the use of violence. Hannah Tonkin critically analyses the international obligations on three key states – the hiring state, the home state and the host state of a PMSC – and identifies the circumstances in which PMSC misconduct may give rise to state responsibility. This analysis will facilitate the assessment of state responsibility in cases of PMSC misconduct and set standards to guide states in developing their domestic laws and policies on private security.
This book traces the history of private military companies, with a special focus on UK private forces. Christopher Kinsey examines the mercenary companies that filled the ranks of many European armies right up to the 1850s, the organizations that operated in Africa in the 1960s and early 1970s, the rise of legally established private military companies in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and today's private and important actors in international security and post-conflict reconstruction. He shows how and why the change from the mercenary organizations of the 1960s and 1970s came about, as the increasing newness of private military companies came to be recognised. It then examines how PMCs have been able to impact upon international security. Finally, Kinsey looks at the type of problems and advantages that can arise for organizations that decide to use private military companies and how they can make an unique contribution to international security. Corporate Soldiers and International Security will be of great interest to all students of international politics, security studies and war studies.
Recent years have seen a growing role for private military contractors in national and international security. To understand the reasons for this, Elke Krahmann examines changing models of the state, the citizen and the soldier in the UK, the US and Germany. She focuses on both the national differences with regard to the outsourcing of military services to private companies and their specific consequences for the democratic control over the legitimate use of armed force. Tracing developments and debates from the late eighteenth century to the present, she explains the transition from the centralized warfare state of the Cold War era to the privatized and fragmented security governance, and the different national attitudes to the privatization of force.
If such regulation is to have any effect at all, however, both states and interested NGOs will need to think more broadly about possible forms that regulation might take. This chapter draws an analogy with existing domestic contract regimes and argues that the market, despite its underdeveloped state, can be significantly regulated by contract law. It argues that contracts - an archetypal private law tool - can be utilized to protect public interests and establish an ongoing oversight role of the hiring or host government.
In the past private security companies have taken responsibility for protecting reconstruction and aid activities during and after conflict. In Mozambique, Angola and Afghanistan such companies have played various roles in providing security for the reconstruction effort and delivery of humanitarian aid. However, the extensive private sector involvement in the reconstruction of Iraq, in addition to expanding aid activities, means that the use of private security companies is at an unprecedented level. Consequently the boundaries between civilian and military activities are becoming blurred, which creates new dangers for humanitarian assistance. Despite the increased number of private security companies in operation, their role is poorly conceptualised, discussed only as part of the overall security response rather than as a vital component of the delivery of aid and of the extensive private sector-led reconstruction programme. To conceptualise the protection of private sector reconstruction and ngo activity, the article examines three interrelated perspectives—the confusion between military intervention and humanitarian aid, the advent of the armed humanitarian and the need to understand the perceptions of the local population. The article provides typologies of local perceptions as a starting point for organisational analysis. It examines the implication of these typologies for reconstruction using Slim's questions: how do we look? What is most visible? Who is looking? The article confirms the link between the use of private security companies for reconstruction and ngo activities and the exacerbation of conflict. Therefore ngos and organisations working in the private sector need to differentiate their efforts from the military campaigns which by doing so limits the violent consequences of negative perceptions.
"We are very good at navigating the physical terrain, we have to be just as good at navigating the human terrain." This quote by Brigadier General Lake reflects the importance of proper communication with native peoples during counterinsurgency operations. After six years of war, Marines remain unprepared for the confusing and nuanced world of cross-cultural communication. When the center of gravity is the populace, correct communication between Marines and the native people is vital. Lack of cultural preparation prior to the invasion forced the Marine Corps to build the bulwark of its interpreter pool with locally hired Iraqi interpreters. To ensure success in future counterinsurgency operations, the Marine Corps must reconsider the use of local interpreters due to cultural damage caused by interpreter corruption, incompetence, and insurgent infiltration. The Marine Corps' dependence on indigenous interpreters is a weakness that will not go away in the future. Training more military linguists and the recent Marine Corps focus on language and cultural operations will help, but it will not completely eliminate the need for local translators. A cadre of interpreter supervisors trained and inducted into a unit prior to deployment will help alleviate some of these issues. Interpreter corruption, incompetence, and infiltration by the enemy are obstacles that not all Marines are prepared to handle, but by taking basic steps they can alleviate these problems significantly.
The central thesis of this paper is centered on the ever-increasing use of contractors on the battlefield. The basic premise focuses on the notion that our weapons and equipment are becoming increasingly more complex and as a result more challenging to operate and maintain. This premise in conjunction with the implementation of proposals such as the Third Wave initiative will continue to expand the privatization of basic core competencies that are vital to success in forward regional defense options. Contractors undeniably will be called upon to help sustain the fighting forces in forward theaters of operation. There are numerous challenges DOD faces with respect to the introduction of progressively more contractors in our battle spaces. Deployment, force protection and legal ramifications are just three of many issues that our strategic leaders will have to address in order to properly preserve our lethal strength. As Donald Rumsfeld recently stated, the defense of the United States is in a new, dangerous era of new vulnerabilities. Current and future enemies will seek to strike the United States and U.S. Forces in novel and surprising ways...wars will be notably different from those of the past century and even from our current conflict. America will inevitably be surprised again by new adversaries striking in unexpected ways." Contractors will be part of the solution for us. Our national security policies and national security strategy must account for this fact. Contractors will represent an expansion of our "Means" to achieve our "Ends."
New types of threats are constantly emerging in this rapidly-changing, global military and economic environment. At the same time, the revolution in business affairs occurring within the Department of Defense (DoD) brings with it major impacts on the warfighter. One significant impact is in the area of increased reliance on contractor support, with changes both in the magnitude and the nature of that support. Contractors now provide many of the functions that were previously performed by military personnel, ranging from traditional base operations support to maintaining sophisticated weapons systems. This transition has occurred as a result of globalization and expansion of U.S. interests abroad, with a concurrent increase in military operating tempo (OPTEMPO). Furthermore, transformation dictates that the military must have the capability to deploy quickly and decisively, with the optimum tooth-to-tail ratio, while complying with established troop limitations set by Congress or host nations. Other factors have exacerbated the situation-deep cuts in DoD personnel and budgets, the Congressional push to privatize functions that can be accomplished outside the military, and new technology and complex weapons systems that have found their place on the battlefield. Contractors on current and future battlefields create a host of challenges for the commander. This paper chronicles the historical perspective of contractor support to the military. It reviews policy and doctrine and examines critical DoD issues and risks in light of the movement to contract out more, not less-and differently-in the future. Lastly, the paper looks to the future and identifies a course of action to legitimize contractors as an integral piece of the Total Force, augmenting existing DoD force structure and creating a seamless partnership between contractors and the military.
This article examines the concept of a public sector ethos as it is manifested at regional level. It argues that the increased interaction of the public and private sectors in recent years, exemplified by the growth of quangos and programmes such as the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and Single Regeneration Budget (SRB), has had a more complex effect than is usually acknowledged and that while the demands of the market have clearly imposed strains on the conventional view of the public sector, the increasing involvement of private sector organizations in public projects has also had a reciprocal effect on private sector companies. It is further suggested that there is, in consequence of this interaction, a new emerging ethos of public service which more accurately reflects organizational behaviour than the (largely misperceived) public sector ethos which it is replacing. This synthesis of public and private ethics, manifest in both the public and the private organizations engaged in the new 'governance' of the UK, reflects a fundamental shift from a concern with process to a concern with outputs, and offers an insight of general importance into the way in which New Public Management impacts upon the delivery of public services.(1)
DOD officials have stated that the military's experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with Congressional attention and legislation, has focused DOD's attention on the importance of managing PSCs. DOD has taken steps to improve how it manages and oversees such contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. These steps include tracking contracting data, coordinating the movements of PSCs throughout the battle space, issuing new policy on managing PSCs, and updating DOD doctrine to incorporate the role of contractors. However, these efforts are still in progress and could take three years or more to effectively implement. This chapter examines current private security contractor trends in Iraq and Afghanistan, steps DOD has taken to improve oversight and management, and the extent to which DOD has incorporated the role of security contractors into its doctrine and strategy. It also reviews steps Congress has taken to exercise oversight over the use of PSCs and includes options for Congress.
Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. Pentagon has accelerated efforts to outsource weapons, battlefield and base support operations, and troop training, invoking competition-based savings and better quality. I review the arguments for and against such privatization and summarize recent Pentagon outsourcing experience. I conclude that the current enthusiasm for privatization is driven largely by commercial concerns and lobbying rather than real gains to the nation and citizens, that it poses dangers of monopolization and undue political influence, and that current contracting practices lack verification and mandatory evaluation safeguards to deliver promised results.
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