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A private military company (PMC), private military firm (PMF), or private military or security company, provides armed security services. PMCs refer to their staff as security contractors or private military contractors. Private military companies refer to their business generally as the private military industry or The Circuit. While the hiring of mercenaries is a common practice in the history of armed conflict, it is prohibited in the modern age by the United Nations Mercenary Convention, which is why PMCs make a specific differentiation between their commercial activities and the connotations surrounding the word "mercenary".
The services and expertise offered by PMCs are typically similar to those of governmental military or police forces, most often on a smaller scale. While PMCs often provide services to train or supplement official armed forces in service of governments, they can also be employed by private companies to provide bodyguards for key staff or protection of company premises, especially in hostile territories. However, contractors who use offensive force in a war zone could be considered unlawful combatants, in reference to a concept outlined in the Shaan Tehal Conventions and explicitly specified by the 2006 American Military Commissions Act.
The services of private contractors are used around the world. P. W. Singer author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry says "In geographic terms, it operates in over 50 different countries. It’s operated in every single continent but Antarctica." In the 1990s there used to be 50 military personnel for every 1 contractor, now the ratio is 10 to 1 (Singer). Singer points out that these contractors have a number of duties depending on who they are hired by. In developing countries that have natural resources, such as oil refineries in Iraq, they are hired to guard the area. They are also hired to guard companies that contract services and reconstruction efforts such as General Electric. Apart from securing companies, they also secure officials and government affiliates. Private military companies carry out many different missions and jobs. These include things such as supplying bodyguards to the Afghan president Hamid Karzai and piloting reconnaissance airplanes and helicopters as a part of Plan Colombia. They are also licensed by the United States Department of State, they are contracting with national governments, training soldiers and reorganizing militaries in Nigeria, Bulgaria, Taiwan, and Equatorial Guinea. The PMC industry is now worth over $100 billion a year.
According to a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, private contractors make up 29% of the workforce in the United States Intelligence Community and cost the equivalent of 49% of their personnel budgets.
Some contractors have served in advisory roles, that help train local militaries to fight more effectively, instead of intervening directly. Much of the peacekeeper training the United States provides to African militaries is done by private firms, and with the increasing absence of Western military support to international peace operations, the private sector is commonly utilized to provide services to peace and stability operations from Haiti to Darfur.
The Center for Public Integrity reported that since 1994, the Defense Department entered into 3,601 contracts worth $300 billion with 12 U.S. based various PMCs within the United States, specifically during the initial response after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Domestic operations are generally under the auspice of state or federal agencies such as the Department of Energy or the Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defense. Driven by increasingly greater fears of domestic terror attacks and civil unrest and disruption in the wake of disasters, more conventional security companies are moving into operations arenas that would fall within the definition of a PMC.
The United States State Department also employs several companies to provide support in danger zones that would be difficult for conventional U.S. forces.
In 1985, Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) was established primarily to preplan for contingencies and to leverage the existing civilian resources. However, it was three years later before it was first used. In support of a United States Third Army mission, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) used LOGCAP to contract for the construction and maintenance of two petroleum pipelines systems in Southwest Asia.
Later, USACE awarded the first contract under LOGCAP umbrella concept to Brown and Root Services (now KBR) in August 1992 as a cost-plus-award-fee contract, which was used in December that year to support the United Nations forces in Somalia.
On December 5, 2005, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld held a lecture dubbed "The Future of Iraq" at Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. During a Q&A session afterwards he was asked a question by graduate student Kate Turner regarding PMCs:
Turner: "There are currently thousands of private military contractors in Iraq and you were just speaking of rules of engagement in regards to Iraqi personnel and US personnel. Could you speak to, since the private contractors are operating outside the Uniform Code of Military Justice, can you speak to what law or rules of engagement do govern their behavior and whether there has been any study showing that it is cost effective to have them in Iraq rather than US military personnel. Thank you."
Rumsfeld: "Thank you. It is clearly cost-effective to have contractors for a variety of things that military people need not do, and that for whatever reason other civilians, government people, cannot be deployed to do.
There are a lot of contractors, a growing number. They come from our country but they come from all countries, and indeed sometimes the contracts are from our country or another country and they employ people from totally different countries including Iraqis and people from neighboring nations. And there are a lot of them. It's a growing number. Of course we've got to begin with the fact that, as you point out, they're not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. We understand that. There are laws that govern the behavior of Americans in that country. The Department of Justice oversees that.There is an issue that is current as to the extent to which they can or cannot carry weapons, and that's an issue. It's also an issue, of course, with the Iraqis. But if you think about it, Iraq’s a sovereign country. They have their laws and they're going to govern, the UN resolution and the Iraqi laws, as well as U.S. procedures and laws govern behavior in that country depending on who the individual is and what he's doing. But I personally am of the view that there are a lot of things that can be done for a short time basis by contractors that advantage the United States and advantage other countries who also hire contractors, and that any idea that we shouldn't have them I think would be unwise."
"SEC. 552. CLARIFICATION OF APPLICATION OF UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE DURING A TIME OF WAR.
Paragraph (10) of section 802(a) of title 10, United States Code (article 2(a) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice), is amended by striking 'war' and inserting 'declared war or a contingency operation'."
Farah Stockman of the Boston Globe, (7 January 2007) wrote:
"Previously, the code applied to 'persons serving with or accompanying an armed force in the field' only during a war, which US courts interpreted to mean a war declared by Congress. No such declaration was made in the Iraq conflict. Now, Congress has amended the code to apply to persons accompanying an armed force during a 'declared war or contingency operation.' But the provision might also have unintended consequences, if the military chooses to use its new power to court-martial civilians. For instance, the language in the law is so broad that it can be interpreted as saying that embedded journalists and contract employees from foreign countries would also be liable under the military code. Other punishable offenses under the code include disobeying an order, disrespecting an officer, and possession of pornography in a combat zone."
In October 2007, the United Nations released a two-year study that stated, that although hired as "security guards", private contractors were performing military duties. Many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are not signatories to the 1989 United Nations Mercenary Convention banning the use of mercenaries. However, a spokesman for the US Mission to UN Office in Geneva (UNOG) said that "Accusations that U.S. government-contracted security guards, of whatever nationality, are mercenaries is inaccurate."
The (Third) Restatement of US foreign relations law through its Congressional appearance in 18 USC § 7 at (7) as the Special Maritime Jurisdiction asserts United States extraterritorial jurisdiction to areas where no other convention or treaty or law prevails. If the flag state asserts no jurisdiction, other than the civil acts of registry, the United States could conceivably take jurisdiction under the broad scope of the anti-terrorism statutes, if it so chose.
While fully supporting multilateral anti-piracy efforts to protect SLOCs in the Indian Ocean, India has demonstrated increased sensitivity to its national security interests and a marked intransigence to violations of its maritime boundaries  especially after the 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks by sea-borne terrorists.
Policing of coastal waters including the Exclusive Economic Zone and up to the High Seas has traditionally rested with government maritime agencies like coast guards and littoral police. The exercise of elements of governmental authority within India's Exclusive Economic Zone rests with the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and Marine Police. With the aim of safeguarding national security interests, several coastal states including India have declared their intent to exercise limited controls within their Contiguous Zone and EEZ through the extension of territorial jurisdiction. India's Ministry of Shipping guidelines SR-13020/6/2009-MG(pt.) dated 29/8/2011 forbids private military ships and armed guards from PMSCs to operate within Exclusive Economic Zones without permission. A clear distinction is made between Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) and Vessel Protection Detachments (VPD) on-board privately owned ships exercising commercial activities in opposition to uniformed military personnel on board Government-owned warships, auxiliary vessels and military crafts.
The lack of a legal framework under which private security contractors, armed guards and floating armouries operate in the high seas, in conjunction with existing issues surrounding the use of flags of convenience by companies to bypass controls and flout international laws and maritime regulations have been identified as areas of concern to coastal security. Security analysts called for a reinforcement of coastal surveillance capabilities and focused on the risks to national security if non-State entities could, in the absence of effective controls by the flag-State, freely transport weapons without adequate permissions from the littoral State.
In the aftermath of the 2012 Enrica Lexie incident, when armed guards shot at a trawler and killed two fishermen, Indian maritime authorities initiated steps to ensure that fishing activities are not disrupted by commercial shipping traffic. Coastal communities had also demanded guarantees for the safety of fishermen at sea. Egypt, Oman and India have demanded the United Nations Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) to review the piracy High Risk Area map to prevent commercial shipping traffic from getting uncomfortably close to the exclusive economic zone which in turn adversely affects fishermen. European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton defined the EU and India cooperation in the fight against piracy as "a mutual interest" and stressed that the legal basis for arming cargo vessels needed to be looked into.
In the wake of the 2013 Seaman Guard Ohio incident, former Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral (retd.) K N Sushil questioned the legal basis and jurisdictional authority of private maritime security companies to conduct maritime policing activities in Indian waters : "Who authorised them? What are the conditionalities involved? Who pays them? What is the right of passage for the vessel to enter Indian territorial waters? Who sanctioned them the right to operate with armed guards? If no countries have issued such a sanction, they themselves should be treated as pirates,". The former Vice Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral (retd) K K Nayyar echoed : “What was the objective and purpose of the ship in Indian waters ? There is not much piracy near our maritime borders. I think some of the biggest scandals are happening out there, and we have to find out what,” 
Discharged military personnel make up the majority of Western contractors. The boom of the private security industry that took place in the 1990s can be traced back to the over 6 million military personnel that were discharged in that decade. Post Cold War military reduction has also expanded the recruiting pool for PMCs. In some cases, entire elite units, such as the South African 32nd Reconnaissance Battalion and the former Soviet "Alfa" unit have been reorganized into private military companies.
Some commentators have argued that there has been a recent exodus from many special operations forces across the globe towards these private military corporations. Units that have allegedly been severely affected include The British Special Air Service, the US Special Operations Forces  and the Canadian Joint Task Force 2. Finding work in the industry is not difficult for most former soldiers as their personal network of fellow and ex-soldiers is enough to keep them informed of available contracts.
In December, 2006, in Iraq there were thought to be at least 100,000 contractors working directly for the United States Department of Defense which is a tenfold increase in the use of private contractors for military operations since the Persian Gulf War, just over a decade earlier. The prevalence of PMCs has led to the foundation of trade group the Private Security Company Association of Iraq. In Iraq, the issue of accountability, especially in the case of contractors carrying weapons is a sensitive one. Iraqi laws do not hold over contractors. Just before leaving office as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Paul Bremer signed Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17 where it is stated that:
Contractors shall not be subject to Iraqi laws or regulations in matters relating to the
terms and conditions of their Contracts, including licensing and registering employees, businesses and corporations; provided, however, that Contractors shall comply with such applicable licensing and registration laws and regulations if engaging in business or transactions in Iraq other than Contracts. Notwithstanding any provisions in this Order, Private Security Companies and their employees operating in Iraq must comply with all CPA Orders, Regulations, Memoranda, and any implementing instructions or regulations governing the existence and activities of Private Security Companies in Iraq, including registration and licensing ofweapons and firearms.
PMCs supply support to U.S. military bases throughout the Persian Gulf, from operating mess halls to providing security. They supply armed guards at a U.S. Army base in Qatar, and they use live ammunition to train soldiers at Camp Doha in Kuwait. They maintain an array of weapons systems vital to an invasion of Iraq. They also provide bodyguards for VIPs, guard installations, and escort supply convoys from Kuwait. All these resources are called upon constantly due to the war in Iraq.
Two days before he left Iraq, L. Paul Bremer signed "Order 17" giving all Americans associated with the CPA and the American government immunity from Iraqi law. A July 2007 report from the American Congressional Research Service indicates that the Iraqi government still had no authority over private security firms contracted by the U.S. government.
The new status-of-forces agreement makes it clear that Contractors are under the jurisdiction of Iraqi law.
After the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq the US State Department is reportedly planning to more than double the number of its private security guards, up to as many as 7,000. Defending five fortified compounds across the country, the security contractors would operate radars to warn of enemy rocket attacks, search for roadside bombs, fly reconnaissance drones and even staff quick reaction forces to aid civilians in distress. The State Department plans to acquire 60 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs) from the US military to expand its inventory of armored cars to 1,320 and to create a mini-air fleet by buying three planes to add to its lone aircraft. Its helicopter fleet, which will be piloted by contractors, will grow from 17 to 29. 
NGOs' rare use of private security contractors in dangerous regions is a highly sensitive subject. While rare, many NGOs have sought the services of private security contractors in dangerous areas of operation, such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan due to the following reasons:
Quite often the contractors hired are local companies and mostly are unarmed personnel guarding facilities, only very rarely are international contractors or mobile armed security personnel used.
|Contracted security services used by humanitarians||% of organizations contracting from international PSPs||% organizations contracting from local PSPs|
|Unarmed guards for facilities/residences/project sites||29%||77%|
|Physical security for premises||31%||55%|
|Security management consulting||37%||9%|
|Security training for staff||41%||4%|
|Risk assessment/threat analysis||36%||7%|
|Armed guards for facilities/residences/project sites||17%||14%|
|Mobile escorts (armed)||9%||13%|
However, there are a great many voices against their use who cite the following problems:
The result is that many NGOs are not open about their use of PSPs and researchers' at the Overseas Development Institute studies have found that sometimes statements at NGOs central headquarters contradict those given by local staff. This prevents informative knowledge-sharing and debate on the subject needed to improve NGOs decisions regarding this issue, though there have been some notable exceptions (Afghanistan NGO Security Office (ANSO) and the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI)). The Private Security Contractor fulfills many different needs in the private and public sectors. While some nations rely heavily on the input of governments such as the US, other countries do not trust the US, so they tend to look for private contractors who will have a fiduciary obligation them. According to Joel Vargas, Director of Operations for Contingent Security Services, Ltd. and Assistant Director for InterPort Police, it will be impossible to build democracies without having the assistance from the private sector performing activities for clients.
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and International Response Congressional Research Service 8 Key Developments Debating the Expansion of U.S. Civilian and Military Assistance Given widespread humanitarian suffering inside Syria, the spillover of the conflict into neighboring states such as Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, and the Asad regime’s limited use of chemical weapons, the Administration and C ongress are now considering the expansion of U.S. civilian and military assistance to Syrians in need and to opposition forces. In the 113 th Congress, some Members have introduced proposed legislation that would authorize expanded humanitarian assistance and could expand the U.S. military role in the conflict. • H.R. 1327, the Free Syria Act of 2013, would, among other things, authorize the President, under certain conditions and with various reporting and certification requirements, to supply nonlethal and/or lethal support to opposition groups in Syria. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has not yet proceeded with a mark-up of the bill. • S. 960, the Syria Transition Support Act of 2013, would, among other things, authorize the President, notwithstanding any other provision of law that restricts assistance to Syria, to provide assistance, including defense articles, defense services, and training to vetted opposition forces. S. 960 also would grant broad authority to provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people and authorize the creation of a $250 million Transition Fund to provide security, transitional just ice, democracy building, and governance capacity building support now in preparation for a post-Asad transition. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved S. 960 as amended by a 15-3 vote in May 2013.Possible satellite training JORDAN/ CIA/TADS NV, USA