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Corporate Mercenaries report | ControlPMSC

We take it for granted that the state should have a monopoly on the use of violence. Previous generations, however, were more relaxed about private-sector involvement in the bloody business of war. For much of the Middle Ages, European battlefields were the playgrounds of condottieri, puffed-up mercenary captains such as Sir John Hawkwood and Sigismondo Malatesta hired by Italian city-states to wage war.

The tradition persisted into the 19th century. Many of the troops Wellington mustered at Waterloo in were mercenaries. Armstrong kicks off his story with the mercenary renaissance of the s and the story of dashing David Stirling, founder of the Special Air Service.

Corporate Mercenaries In DAPL Case Look For Free Pass

Had it not been for Stirling and the British Mercenary Organisation, royalist forces in Aden would likely have collapsed under the onslaught of Nasser's invasion in In , having embarked on a profitable business connection with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Stirling founded Watchguard International, the world's first private security company. The Brits have been well represented in private security ever since.

Fast-forward to the second Gulf War in Much of the battlefield was by now a privatised business. KBR Kellogg Brown and Root , formerly a subsidiary of the Halliburton corporation, provides everything from accommodation, laundry and linens to vehicle maintenance, military canteens and convoys. Private-security companies, most of them British and American, mushroom to fill the sudden demand for convoy protection, bodyguarding and armoured taxi services.

Others, such as Custer Battles and Triple Canopy at the cowboy end of the market, are not. By the end of Donald Rumsfeld's tenure as Secretary of Defense in , there were , contractors in Iraq, a ratio of one to one with American troops.

Defining modern Mercenaries in the U.S. context

With 14, personnel in uniform in early , the British security company Erinys has more men in Iraq than the British Army. The work is dangerous, but the money is good. From an Iraqi perspective, the arrival of large numbers of pumped-up young men with goatee beards who look as though they are dressed for a paramilitary catwalk, has been an unwelcome development. Many wore goatees and dressed in all-khaki uniform with ammo vests or Blackwater T-shirts with the company's trademark bear claw in the cross hairs, sleeves rolled up.

They bossed around journalists and ran Iraqi cars off the roads. It is this sort of behaviour and character - physically ludicrous, overconfident, culturally insensitive and intellectually challenged - that gives the private security industry such a poor reputation.

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Armstrong's original inspiration for this book came from the disgraceful shooting by a Blackwater team of 16 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad last September. Blanket immunity, guaranteed by Bremer in one of his last acts in Iraq, is not the best way to deal with this problem of perception.

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 Geneva Conventions and explicitly specified by the American Military Commissions Act. The services of private contractors are used around the world.

Singer , author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry , says "In geographic terms, it operates in over 50 different countries. He also points out that these contractors have a number of duties depending on whom 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 secure officials and government affiliates.

Private military companies carry out many different missions and jobs. Some examples include close protection for the Afghan president Hamid Karzai and piloting reconnaissance airplanes and helicopters as a part of Plan Colombia. According to the Brazilian geostrategist De Leon Petta, far from meaning a possible weakening of the national state power and its monopoly on violence, these PMCs will actually serve as alternative forms of power application abroad through irregular means, without violating international law, causing troubles in the domestic or public policy, or too many international repercussions.

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 Woodhouse resigned as Director of Operations after a series of disagreements and Stirling himself ceased to take an active part in 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.

The exodus of over 6 million military personnel from Western militaries in the s expanded the recruiting pool for PMCs. Some commentators have argued that there was an exodus from many special operations forces across the globe towards these private military corporations. However, it was three years later before it was first used. 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.

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. In August Close Protection operatives from a United Kingdom based security and intelligence company International Intelligence Limited rescued six British lawyers from a hostile crowd in Baghdad, extracting them to a neutral hotel, in a pro bono action despite those solicitors not being clients of the firm.

In December , there were estimated to be at least , contractors working directly for the United States Department of Defense in Iraq which was a tenfold increase in the use of private contractors for military operations since the Persian Gulf War , just over a decade earlier. 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. 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.

Two days before he left Iraq, L. However, in , 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. They supplied armed guards at a U. 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.

Private military company

They also provided bodyguards for VIPs, guard installations, and escort supply convoys from Kuwait. All these resources were called upon constantly. By the end of , the number of contractors who had died in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait had reached 3, Scholars have studied whether contractor deaths have an effect the public's "casualty sensitivity" when substituted for military fatalities. In October , the United Nations released a two-year study that reported, that although hired as "security guards", private contractors performed military duties.

Many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are not signatories to the United Nations Mercenary Convention banning the use of mercenaries.


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However, a spokesman for the American mission to the U. She claims contracted combatants carry the legitimacy of the state that hires these firms. No international court has jurisdiction over these corporations and there is no preexisting mechanism in place bound by international law to account and manage for PMSCs use of force. However, there are a few soft law instruments in which these corporations are held responsible to some degree of legal status. One favorable argument for PMSCs is that they have the skills and expertise necessary to deploy in a short times notice with the ability to provide for a wide range of services Malamud, However, outsourcing does bring on the risk of a lack of transparency in the selection process of third party personnel.

In addition, the UN is held responsible to ensure a clean human rights record and maintaining a gold standard for missions that entail the use of private contractors. Often, states do not have control over these operations. Although, in the UN Department of Safety and security published a new policy in which oversees the use of armed private contractors.

Establishing clear criteria is necessary to determine when it is permissible to use such companies and for what activities. Criteria such as transparent decision making procedures, solid vetting and screening measures, as well as standard operating procedures. Private military and security firms provide a temporary mechanism for countries with prolonged violence and security unrest. The rare use of private security contractors by NGOs in dangerous regions is a highly sensitive subject.

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. 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.

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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  • After the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq , the U. State Department is reportedly planning to more than double the number of its private security guards, up to as many as 7, 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, 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 State Department and The Pentagon has also outsourced the expanded military training in Africa to three companies: