Private military company

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A private military company (PMC), private military firm (PMF),[1] 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".[2][3] The hiring of mercenaries is a common practice in the history of armed conflict and prohibited in the modern age by the United Nations Mercenary Convention; the United Kingdom and United States are not signatories to the convention, but the United States has stated that describing PMCs under US contract as mercenaries is inaccurate.[4]

The services and expertise offered by PMCs are typically similar to those of governmental security, 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.[5]

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.[6] [7] 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.[8] The PMC industry is now worth over $100 billion a year.[9]

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.[10]

History[edit]

Sir David Stirling, an SAS veteran, founded a PMC in the 1960s.

Modern PMCs trace their origins back to a group of ex-SAS British veterans in 1965 who, under the leadership of the founder of the SAS, Sir David Stirling and John Woodhouse, founded WatchGuard International (formerly with offices in Sloane Street before moving to South Audley Street in Mayfair) as a private company that could be contracted out for security and military purposes.[11]

The company's first assignment was to go to Yemen to report on the state of the royalist forces when a cease-fire was declared. At the same time Stirling was cultivating his contacts in the Iranian government and exploring the chances of obtaining work in Africa. The company eventually operated in Zambia and in Sierra Leone, providing training teams and advising on security matters. Stirling also organised deals to sell British weapons and military personnel to other countries for various privatised foreign policy operations. Contracts were mainly with the Gulf States and involved weapons supply and training. The company was also linked with a failed attempt to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi from power in Libya in 1971. Woodhouse resigned as Director of Operations after a series of disagreements and Stirling himself ceased to take an active part in 1972.[12]

Stirling also founded KAS International (aka KAS Enterprises) and was involved in a collaboration with the WWF to forcibly reduce the illegal poaching and smuggling of elephant tusks in various countries of Southern Africa.[13] Other groups formed by ex-SAS servicemen were established in the 1970s and 80s, including Control Risks Group and Defence Systems, providing military consultation and training.

Dramatic growth in the number and size of PMCs occurred at the time of the end of the Cold War, as Western governments increasingly began to rely on their services to bolster falling conventional military budgets. Some of the larger corporations are: Vinnell and Military Professional Resources Inc. in the United States; G4S and Keeni-Meeny Services in the United Kingdom; Lordan-Levdan in Israel and Executive Outcomes in South Africa.

The exodus of over 6 million military personnel from Western militaries in the 1990s 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 were reorganized into private military companies.[14]

Some commentators have argued that there was an exodus from many special operations forces across the globe towards these private military corporations. Units that were allegedly severely affected included The British Special Air Service,[15][16] the US Special Operations Forces [17] and the Canadian Joint Task Force 2.[18] 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 1985, Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) was established in the United States, 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 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.

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 Western governments have provided to African militaries was done by private firms,[citation needed] and with the increasing absence of Western military support to international peace operations, the private sector was 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.

PMCs in Iraq[edit]

In December, 2006, in Iraq there were estimated to be at least 100,000 contractors working directly for the United States Department of Defense which was a tenfold increase in the use of private contractors for military operations since the Persian Gulf War, just over a decade earlier.[19] The prevalence of PMCs 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, was a sensitive one. Iraqi laws do not hold over contractors.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld justified the use of PMCs in Iraq on the basis that they were cost effective and useful on the ground. He also affirmed that they were not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22]

However, in 2007, the Uniform Code of Military Justice was amended to allow for prosecution of military contractors who are deployed in a "declared war or a contingency operation."

PMCs supplied support to U.S. military bases throughout the Persian Gulf, from operating mess halls to providing security. They supplied armed guards at a U.S. Army base in Qatar, and they used live ammunition to train soldiers at Camp Doha in Kuwait. They maintained an array of weapons systems vital to the invasion of Iraq. They also provided bodyguards for VIPs, guard installations, and escort supply convoys from Kuwait. All these resources were called upon constantly.[9]

International legal issues[edit]

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 American mission to the U.N. office in Geneva (UNOG) said that "Accusations that U.S. government-contracted security guards, of whatever nationality, are mercenaries is inaccurate."[4]

PMC activities elsewhere[edit]

Relation to non-governmental organizations[edit]

The rare use by NGOs of private security contractors in dangerous regions is a highly sensitive subject.[37] 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:[37]

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.[37]

Contracted security services used by humanitarians % of organizations contracting from international PSPs % organizations contracting from local PSPs
Unarmed guards for facilities/residences/project sites29%77%
Physical security for premises31%55%
Security management consulting37%9%
Security training for staff41%4%
Risk assessment/threat analysis36%7%
Information services26%12%
Armed guards for facilities/residences/project sites17%14%
Standby security13%16%
Mobile escorts (armed)9%13%

However, there are a great many voices against their use who cite the following problems:[37]

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.[37] 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)).[37] 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.

Future[edit]

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. [38]

Regulation[edit]

Over the last decade there have been a number of initiatives to regulate the private security industry.[39][40][41][42] These include the ISO/PAS 28007:2012 Guidelines for Private Maritime Security Companies and the ANSI/ASIS PSC.1 and PSC.4 standards.

See also[edit]

Resources[edit]

Academic publications[edit]

Non-academic publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Singer, P.W. (March–April 2005). "Outsourcing War". Foreign Affairs 84 (2). pp. 119–132. 
  2. ^ Wheeler, Virginia. The Sun (London) http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/campaigns/our_boys/3862186/Brits-are-No1-guns-for-hire.html |url= missing title (help). 
  3. ^ http://www.circuit-magazine.com/
  4. ^ a b Higgins Alexander G.US rejects UN mercenary report USA Today, October 17, 2007 (syndicated article by Associated Press)
  5. ^ Barnes, Julian E.. (2007-10-15). "America's own unlawful combatants?". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ Vieira, Constanza (2007-07-17). "COLOMBIA-ECUADOR: Coca Spraying Makes for Toxic Relations". IPS. 
  7. ^ a b Private Security Transnational Enterprises in Colombia José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective February, 2008.
  8. ^ Shishkov, Viktor (2009-03-02). "Private military companies to supersede regular armies". informationliberation. 
  9. ^ a b Yeoman, Barry (2003-06-01). "Soldiers of Good Fortune". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  10. ^ Priest, Dana (2011). Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State. Little, Brown and Company. p. 320. ISBN 0-316-18221-4. 
  11. ^ Crowell, William P; Contos, Brian T; DeRodeff, Colby; Dunkel, Dan (2011). Physical and Logical Security Convergence: Powered By Enterprise Security Management: Powered By Enterprise Security Management. Syngress. Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  12. '^ The SAS: Savage Wars of Peace: 1947 to the Present, by Anthony Kemp, John Murray, 1994, pp. 88-89
  13. ^ "Pretoria inquiry confirms secret battle for the rhino". The Independent (London). 18 January 1996. Retrieved 13 February 2008. 
  14. ^ Zabiki, Feliz "Private Military Companies: Shadow Soldiers of Neo-colonialism", Capital & Class, Summer 2007, issue 92 p1-10, Retrieved on 2010-3-22.
  15. ^ Crisis as SAS men quit for lucrative Iraq jobs, The Daily Telegraph article dated 15/02/2005
  16. ^ Soldiers to be allowed a year off to go to Iraq to earn £500 a day as guards, The Daily Telegraph article dated 23/05/2004
  17. ^ $150,000 incentive to stay in US elite forces, The Daily Telegraph article dated 07/02/2005
  18. ^ Special forces get pay raise, National Post article dated August 26, 2006
  19. ^ Merle, Renae (2006-12-05). "Census Counts 100,000 Contractors in Iraq". Washington Post. 
  20. ^ "Secretary Rumsfeld's Remarks to the Johns Hopkins, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies". Defenselink.mil. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  21. ^ Hirch, Michael (2007-09-20). "Blackwater and the Bush Legacy". Newsweek. p. 2. Archived from the original on 2007-10-01. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  22. ^ "Blackwater staff face charges". CNN.com. 2007-09-23. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  23. ^ a b P. W. Singer (March/April 2005) Outsourcing War. Foreign Affairs. Council on Foreign Relations. New York City, NY
  24. ^ "A movieclip containing the behavior of alleged Aegis Defence Services driving in Iraq". Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  25. ^ 'Trophy' video exposes private security contractors shooting up Iraqi drivers, Daily Telegraph article from 26/11/2005.
  26. ^ "Discussion on a blog about Aegis trophy video". Thedanreport.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  27. ^ South Africa Aims To Regulate Foreign Ownership of Private Security Firms
  28. ^ "SL:SoF Synopsis". Foreign Correspondent (ABC Television). 
  29. ^ "Sierra Leone: Soldiers of Fortune, Script". Foreign Correspondent (ABC Television). 
  30. ^ U.S. firm offers 'private armies' for low-intensity conflicts, WorldTribune article from March 29, 2006
  31. ^ Congo Holding 3 Americans in Alleged Coup Plot, Washington Post article from May 25, 2006
  32. ^ Congo Deports Nearly 3 Dozen Foreigners, Washington Post article from May 29, 2006.
  33. ^ ELISE CASTELLI (2009-12-16). "Projected contractor surge in Afghanistan: Up to 56,000". Federaltimes.com. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  34. ^ Pincus, Walter (2009-12-16). "Up to 56,000 more contractors likely for Afghanistan, congressional agency says". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  35. ^ ELISE CASTELLI (2009-12-16). "Projected contractor surge in Afghanistan: Up to 56,000". Federaltimes.com. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  36. ^ Pincus, Walter (2009-12-17). "Congress investigating charges of 'protection racket' by Afghanistan contractors". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  37. ^ a b c d e f Abby Stoddard, Adele Harmer and Victoria DiDomenico (2009) Private security providers and services in humanitarian operations Overseas Development Institute
  38. ^ Michael r. gordon (August 18, 2010). "Civilians to Take U.S. Lead as Military Leaves Iraq". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  39. ^ http://dextrafortis.com/a-brief-explanation-of-the-private-security-regulatory-initiatives/
  40. ^ http://dextrafortis.com/a-brief-explanation-of-the-private-security-regulatory-initiatives-the-standards/
  41. ^ http://dextrafortis.com/a-brief-explanation-of-the-private-security-regulatory-initiatives-human-rights-initiatives/
  42. ^ http://dextrafortis.com/a-brief-explanation-of-the-private-security-regulatory-initiatives-united-nations-efforts/

External links[edit]