Problems with the Privatization of Counterterrorism

 

 
Iliana Lilova
2005
Texte produit dans le cadre du cours CRI 6224
Pour tout commentaire contactez ERTA
 

The role of private military companies in Iraq has never been fully acknowledged. However, several incidents have brought public attention to that secretive industry.

The most striking incident was the murder of four men in Fallujah by rebels who ambushed their SUVs, threw hand grenades and set them on fire. The charred body of one was hooked to a car and dragged through the streets while the bodies of two others were hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River as the crowd chanted, "Fallujah is the graveyard of Americans". There were no U.S. troops or Iraqi forces coming to the scene.
     
But who were the victims and what were they doing there? All it was known was that they were four Americans, civilians, and contract workers involved in a reconstruction project in Iraq. U.S. officials in Washington said the contractors were working with the U.S.-led coalition but did not say what they were doing in the city. The four men were employees of Blackwater, a private military company.
     
Another incident that drew attention to private military contractors was the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. A couple of independent contractors from CACI International and Titan Corporation, working as military interrogators and translators, were involved but again it was not clear who were they and what were they doing in Iraq. It was not clear also what were others like them doing in U.S. run prisons, to whom were they accountable and what were they doing on critical missions like counterintelligence (Schlesinger, 2004). These questions remain unanswered.

     

Introduction

What are private military companies? What do they do in Iraq? Who regulates them?

Singer defines them as "corporate bodies that specialize in the provision of military skills-including tactical combat operations, strategic planning, intelligence gathering and analysis, operational support, troop training, and military technical assistance" (Singer, 2001/2002). Thus, as Singer states, they accomplish tasks directly affecting the tactical and strategic success of engagement. Clients can "access capabilities that extend across the entire spectrum of military activity-from a team of commandos to a wing of fighter jets-simply by becoming a business client." The role of PMCs has become increasingly widespread and important in contemporary warfare yet its "full scope and impact remain underrealized." PMCs range from small consulting firms to transnational corporations that lease battalions of commandos."
     
The contractors working for these companies perform a range of services. They operate and maintain airplanes on the battlefield, and sometimes even fly them to the world's most troubled conflict zones. They supply bodyguards for the president of Afghanistan, construct detention camps to hold suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, and pilot armed reconnaissance planes and helicopter gunships to eradicate coca crops in Colombia. They operate the intelligence and communications systems at the U.S. Northern Command in Colorado, which is responsible for coordinating a response to any attack on the United States. They are contracting with foreign governments, training soldiers and reorganizing militaries in Nigeria, Bulgaria, Taiwan, and Equatorial Guinea (Yeoman, 2003).
     
The clients of PMCs "differ in size, relative power, location in the international system, level of wealth, number and type of adversaries, organizational makeup, ideology, legitimacy, objectives, and so on." (Singer, 2001/2002). They range from individuals to private corporations and governments and from humanitarian agencies to drug cartels (Morse, 2004). The UN and other international organizations, for example, frequently employ PMCs or private security companies (PSCs) for logistics or security. Also, many foreign industries and NGOs would be unwilling to operate without having the protection of such companies (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2002). Other international organizations have used PMCs like Halliburton's Brown & Root division to remove land mines (GlobalSecurity.org).
     
Singer (2004) estimates that there are several hundred PMCs around the world that have operated in over 50 countries with their single largest client being the U.S. According to Singer (2001/2002) every major U.S. military operation in the post-Cold War era (whether in the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Haiti, Zaire, Bosnia, or Kosovo) has involved significant and growing levels of PMC support. The U.S. has used DynCorp and subsequently Pacific A&E to recruit and manage monitors for it in the Balkans (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2002). The Associated Press (2004) reports that the CIA often uses independent contractors for short-term assignments. While these contractors are sometimes recruited by and work through a private company, they can also be contracted directly by the agency.
     
In the last decade, the U.S. government has signed over 3 000 contracts with PMCs (Singer, 2004). Also, the spending on federal contracts increased by about 42 percent from 2000 to 2003 (from $205 billion to $291 billion) according to a report issued in May by Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the senior Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee (Associated Press, 2004).
     
Private military companies make an estimated $100 billion in business worldwide each year with much of the money going to Fortune 500 firms like Halliburton, DynCorp, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon (Yeoman, 2003). According to Singer (2001/2002) over the next few years, revenues are expected to increase by about 85 percent in industrial countries and by 30 percent in developing countries.

    Activities, examples and users of private military security companies

activities and services provided examples of companies main users of services
combat and operational support Executive Outcomes, Sandline International, Gurkha Security Guards governments
military advice and training DSL, MPRI, Silver Shadow, Levdan, Vinnel, BDM governments
arms procurement Executive Outcomes, Sandline International, Levdan governments
intelligence gathering Control Risk Group, Kroll, Saladin, DynCorp. governments, multinational companies
security and crime prevention DSL, Lifeguard, Group 4, Control Risk Group, Gurkha Security Guards, Gray Security, Coin Security multinational companies, humanitarian agencies
logistical support Brown and Root, DynCorp, Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE) peacekeeping organisations, humanitarian agencies

Taken from: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2002, 12th February). Return to an Address of the Honourable the House of Commons dated 12th February 2002 for a Paper, entitled: Private Military Companies: Options for Regulation. London: The Stationery Office; www.fco.gov.uk]

     

The rise of private military companies

The last decade witnessed a surge in PMC activity around the globe. PMCs are credited with having been a determinant actor in wars in Angola, Croatia, Ethiopia-Eritrea, and Sierra Leone. However, the use of mercenaries is nothing new. Throughout history mercenaries have been used. Every empire, from Ancient Egypt to Victorian England, utilized contract forces (Davis, 2002).
     
The seventeenth century was like the post-Cold War period, characterized by transitions, weak governments and openly available military services. During the colonial expansion, Dutch and English East Indies Companies commanded armies and navies larger than those in Europe. By the twentieth century, the state system and the concept of state sovereignty had spread all over the world and norms against private armies had begun to gain in strength (Singer, 2001/2002; 2003).
       
In modern times, the move towards privatizing war started during the Bush Senior administration. During the Gulf War, the Pentagon began replacing soldiers with private contractors, relying on them to provide logistical support to troops on the front lines (Yeoman, 2003). The military continued to privatize many jobs traditionally reserved for uniformed soldiers. After the Gulf War, the Pentagon, headed by Dick Cheney, paid Brown & Root Services, a Halliburton subsidiary, nearly 9 million USD to study how private military companies could provide support for American soldiers in combat zones. Eventually Cheney served as CEO of Halliburton, and Brown & Root, now known as Halliburton KBR, was awarded at least 2.5 billion USD to construct and run military bases, some in secret locations, as part of the Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (Singer, 2001/2002).
     
In the current Bush administration and the war on terror, the PMCs' business is booming. One Washington law firm, cited in Yeoman (2003), states that after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, there was a rapid expansion of US military activity in many areas in the globe, and President Bush's ongoing war on terrorism will likely require even more support from private military contractors for future operations.

     

Reasons for the emergence of PMCs

Singer (2001/2002) lists four reasons for the emergence of PMCs; the end of the Cold War; the resulting vacuum in the market of security; transformations in the nature of warfare, and the broader shifts toward privatization in an age of military downsizing and globalization.

THE GAP IN THE MARKET OF SECURITY. The massive military establishments of the Cold War were winding down. During the Cold War, small wars and weak states needed outside help to maintain security, but once the great powers no longer had an interest in them they simply stopped supporting them and many ethnic or internal conflicts long suppressed or manipulated by the superpowers re-emerged (GlobalSecurity). The great powers were no longer willing to intervene to restore stability. The public support was also lacking. Because of the generalized downsizing of intervention capabilities there were limits to the abilities of states to respond to many threats. In addition, as Singer states (2001/2002), nonstate actors, such as local warlords, terrorist networks, international criminals, and drug cartels able to challenge and disrupt world society began to increase in number, power, and stature. Thus, the insecurity caused by these actors, combined with the poorly organized local militaries and police forces, have created an increased demand for PMCs.
     
The Cold War was also a period of "historical hypermilitarization" (Singer 2001/2002) and the subsequent military downsizing around the globe meant that a large number of individuals with unique skills were looking for work. So many of the elite units were discharged that they did not even change structure when regrouping as private companies. Singer (2001/2002) states that since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, professional armies have been downsized and stretched thin. In the 1990s, the world's armies shrank by more than six million personnel. The US military has declined from about 2.1 million active-duty troops during the Cold War to about 1.4 million in 2004 and it is about one-third smaller than it was during the 1991 Gulf War (Singer, April 2004).

TRANSFORMATIONS IN THE NATURE OF WARFARE. Warfare has been undergoing revolutionary changes, requiring more technical skills. The most advanced military forces became increasingly reliant on commercial technology, such as information technology and the latest software, usually provided by private firms. In modern times, fewer individuals are doing the actual fighting, while massive support systems are required to upkeep the world's most modern forces (Singer, 2001/2002).
      
High-technology warfare has also increased the need for specialized expertise. Today's armies need technical and logistic support from private companies. Great Britain has recently contracted out its aircraft support units, tank transport units, and aerial refueling fleet. With the growing importance of information-related systems there will be more reliance of civilians (Singer, 2001/2002).

PRIVATIZATION. Lastly, governments have strived to reduce their size and budgets and so have privatized some military functions like they have done with other services. Thus, privatization has spread to areas that were once the exclusive domain of the state.

     

Types of private military companies

The term private military company is broad, and thus encompasses the overall industry.

The privatized military industry is organized according to the range of services and levels of force that its companies are able to offer (Singer, 2001/2002). Thus, the private military industry is divided into three categories: military provider companies, military consulting companies, and military support companies (Davis, 2002; Singer 2001/2002).

Military provider companies (PMCs), also known as "private military firms", offer direct tactical military assistance to clients, including serving in front-line combat, engaging in actual fighting or direct command and control of field units, or both (Singer 2001/2002). Clients of these firms have low military capabilities and face immediate, high-threat situations. The first PMC to work in this sector was Executive Outcomes, a former South African company which carried out operations in Angola, Congo, and Sierra Leone. Other such companies are Sandline and Airscan, which can perform aerial military reconnaissance.

Military consulting firms provide strategic advisory and military training expertise that is often integral to the function or restructuring of armed forces. They can offer a greater amount of experience and expertise. Such assistance can dramatically improve military capabilities. For example, advice from MPRI (Military Professional Resources Incorporated), a firm based in Alexandria, Virginia, is credited with turning the ill-trained Croat militia into a professional-like army that carried out the "very successful" "Operation Storm" in 1995 in which Croat soldiers captured the Serbian-held region of Krajina with quite a few casualties. MPRI boasts that it has on call the skill sets of more than 12,000 former military officers, including four-star generals.
      The clients of the military consulting firms are usually in the midst of force restructuring or aiming for a transformation. Compared to clients of PMCs, their needs are not as immediate and their contract requirements are more long term and often more lucrative. Examples of such companies are Vinnell and Levdan.

Military support firms provide rear-echelon and supplementary services. They fill in functional needs such as logistics, intelligence, risk assessment, technical support, transportation and maintenance services to armed forces. This allows soldiers to concentrate their energies on combat. The Halliburton Company of Houston, Texas, has been one of the major players. Clients include those engaged in immediate and long-duration interventions.

     

Private Military Firms in Iraq

A Blackwater bodyguard accompanies Paul Bremer (left) in Mosul, Iraq (Salon.com)

Reasons for the emergence of PMCs in Iraq

The unsafe conditions in Iraq have hampered the rebuilding effort and the thinly stretched American forces cannot provide protection, therefore companies who want to operate there have to hire their own guards. This also allows scarce military resources to concentrate on war fighting. All of this has contributed to the growth of PMCs in Iraq.
     
Some claim that the U.S. employs PMCs because it looks for ways to limit its military costs and risks and because it is a way of displacing some of the political costs of the war. The death of a private contractor will not cause the same reaction as the death of a soldier would because their casualties are taken outside public awareness. Furthermore, as Singer states, casualty figures beyond single digits are routinely seen as a political, and thus a military defeat (2001/2002).
     
In addition, Yeoman (2003) states that relying on PMCs enables Washington to circumvent Congress and to avoid attention. If soldiers are killed, there will be headlines but when private military are killed things are different. For example, in 1992 when a helicopter was shot down during an anti-drug mission in Peru, three DynCorp employees were killed but the whole incident merited only 113 words in the New York Times.
     
There are no exact numbers about the number of companies or private military contractors in Iraq but according to Singer (2005) and as reported by the Associated Press (2004), between 15 000 and 20,000 private military employees from over 60 firms operate in Iraq. That is as much as 15 percent of the total US presence of about 130,000 soldiers (GlobalSecurity). Some claim that PMCs are the third-largest contributor to the war effort in Iraq after the United States and Britain, whereas others claim they are the second-largest contributor (Sandline, 2004).
     
According to Singer the industry has reached its greatest height during the war in Iraq beginning in 2003. He estimates the ratio of private contractors to U.S. military personnel to be about 1 to 10 during this war, which is 10 times greater than the ratio during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
     
In Iraq, the PMCs perform an array of roles, that soldiers used to do in the past - from logistics to maintenance to training local armies and even fighting (Singer, 2004). The training of the Iraqi police, soldiers, paramilitary, and army all involved private firms, as did multiple tactical combat, security, and military intelligence jobs (Daragahi, 2003; Singer, 2003). Private security guards watch over U.S. officials, convoys and private workers in Iraq - some under government contract and some hired by private companies.
     
In addition, before the war, PMCs took part in war games and field training. During the war, they handled logistics and support for coalition troops and maintained many of the most sophisticated weapons systems, such as the B-2 stealth bomber (Singer, 2001/2002).
     
Most security firms in Iraq are British (Manjoo, 2003). Some state (Sandline, 2004) that British companies are popular because they are run by and employ ex-Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers who have a certain reputation. British companies boast that they have two times more men in Iraq than their American counterparts.
     
However, PMCs employ personnel from more than 30 nationalities (Singer, 2004), including British, Nepalese, Chilean, Ukrainian, Israeli, South African and Fijian. The personnel they employ is believed to be ex-members of elite military and security forces (WorldTribune, 2004).
     
Thus, ArmorGroup, a British company, employs 700 Gurkhas to protect America's primary contractors in Iraq, Bechtel and KBR. Control Risks relies on westerners in contrast to Erinys whose pipeline protectors are overwhelmingly Iraqi. The cheapness of the other groups, compared with western soldiers, is one reason why PMCs are flourishing. Private Iraqi soldiers, for example, get $150 a month, third - country nationals (Gurkhas and Fijians) get 10-20 times as much as the Iraqis and internationals (first-worlders) get 100 times as much (Sandline, 2004).
     
Some of the largest PMCs working in Iraq are Global Risk Strategies, Control Risks Group, Blackwater and Triple Canopy. Global Risk Strategies is a London-based security company. It was a two-man team until the invasion of Afghanistan. Now it has up to 1 200 security personnel in Iraq (including 500 Gurkha and 500 Fijian soldiers) manning the barricades of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) (Sandline, 2004). Last year it won a 27m USD contract to distribute Iraq's new dinar. The second largest PMC is Control Risks Group, with 750 people; followed by Blackwater, USA, 600; Triple Canopy, 350; Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group, 300; Olive, 265; and DynCorp, 175 personnel (Singer, 2004; WorldTribune, 2004).
     
These companies also obtain very lucrative revenues. David Claridge, managing director of Janusian, a London-based security firm, (Sandline, 2004) states that the war in Iraq has boosted British military companies' revenues from £200m (420 m CAD) before the war to over £1 billion. The same article reports that a four-man ex-SAS team in Baghdad can cost 5 000 USD a day.
     
Erinys, another British firm, founded by Alastair Morrisson, an ex-SAS officer won a contract with Jordanian and Iraqi partners to protect Iraq's oil installations. A contract which is worth over 100m USD. The company has 14 000 people in Iraq.
     
Control Risks provides armed escorts and it has 500 men guarding British civil servants (Sandline, 2004). DynCorp, a subsidiary of CSC, an American military contractor is training Iraq's police force (Manjoo, 2003). Similarly, Blackwater is a Virginia-based, private company that contracts with the US armed forces to train soldiers and guard government buildings around the world (Yeoman, 2003). In the fall of 2002, it signed a 35,7m USD contract with the Pentagon to train more than 10 000 sailors from Virginia, Texas, and California each year in "force protection." Other contracts are apparently so secret, that its president Garry Jackson, states that he can not tell one federal agency about his business with another. It was the firm protecting Iraq's American proconsul, Paul Bremer.

     

Issues with the privatization of counterterrorism

Employing private military companies has legal and ethical ramifications. It raises questions relating to issues of chain of command, authority, accountability, effectiveness, sovereignty and human rights. As the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2002) stated, "actions in the security field have implications which go beyond those of normal commercial transactions. They may involve the use of force and the taking of lives. Or they may impact on stability within a country or a region; this may be the case even where PMCs are not engaged directly in combat (MPRI's training programmes clearly altered the balance of forces in the Balkans for example)".

LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY. When private military companies abuse their power, they and the government are shielded from public scrutiny because they are private entities (Singer, 2001/2002). For example, in 2001 the Alabama-based firm, Aviation Development Corp., which provided reconnaissance for the CIA in South America, misidentified an errant plane as possibly belonging to cocaine traffickers and based on that information the Peruvian air force shot it down, killing a US missionary and her seven-month old daughter. Subsequently, when Congress members tried to investigate they were told by the CIA and the State Department to call the company because it is a private entity (Yeoman, 2003).
     
According to the CPA, non-Iraqi private-security personnel contracted to the coalition or its partners are not subject to Iraqi law (Sandline, 2004). Therefore, they can literally get away with anything. This seems as a déjà vu. When several private contractors from DynCorp, a private military company, were accused by two fellow colleagues of being involved in forced-prostitution rings while in Bosnia, the company fired the whistle-blowers and eventually discharged the accused quietly. However, due to legal loopholes and bureaucratic confusion, they were never prosecuted.
     
As Jan Schakowsky, a Congress member cited in Yeoman (2003) pointed out, private military do not have the same level of accountability. They are not obligated to follow orders or to follow the Military Code of Conduct. Their obligation is to their employer, not to their country.
     
The lack of accountability could have grave consequences in battle too (Yeoman, 2003). The Pentagon has become so dependent on private military companies that it literally cannot wage war without them. According to Yeoman, troops already rely on for-profit contractors to maintain 28 percent of all weapons systems, and the Bush administration wants to increase that figure to 50 percent. In most cases, private military companies can legally withdraw their employees if faced with danger in a combat zone. This is very worrisome to military officials because if contractors flee when the battle starts, supply lines could be severed, aircraft could be grounded, and soldiers would have to run weapons systems they no longer have the skill or know-how to keep in working order. Thus, the lives of soldiers could be endangered.
      
A good example of what might happen when there is a lack of accountability is given by Yeoman (2003). In 1996, International Charter Inc., a small private military company based in Salem, Oregon, subcontracted with DynCorp to fly helicopters for international peacekeepers in Liberia. Four months into the contract, rebels from the countryside attacked the capital city of Monrovia, shooting people and burning homes. The International Charter Inc. subcontractors fled to the embassy but their superiors from DynCorp had already left the country the day before without saying anything. Stranded in Monrovia, the subcontractors armed themselves with guns bought at the black market and gathered from the street, and defended the embassy they were hiding in together with other refugees until U.S. military reinforcements arrived.

REGULATION. Another major problem with PMCs is the lack of regulation. PMCs do not have clear guidelines to which they should adhere and there is no one to make sure that they follow them and that they are penalized when they contravene them. This lack of regulation may allow PMCs to act with impunity and there is anecdotal evidence that some private contractors do. For example, Sandline (2004) claims that ill-trained mercenaries operate in Iraq with impunity, erect checkpoints without authorization, and claim powers to detain and confiscate identity cards. It cites the example of a South African company guarding a Baghdad hotel that put guns to the heads of the correspondent's guests. This incident raises important questions about human rights abuses.
     
In addition, there are no guarantees about the quality of the training the private contractors have received, about their discipline and their preparedness to deal with risky and potentially dangerous situations. If the personnel is not well prepared, it may endanger not only its life but that of non-combatants, the people they are supposed to protect, as well as indirectly it may endanger the lives of American soldiers.
     
As Singer states (2001/2002), regulation at the national level is also minimal. In the United States, the contract approval process for PMFs is divided among different government agencies, and no clear rules apply. The only state that has sought to establish full control over military companies based within its territory is South Africa, but with mixed results. It required government approval for any military contract with foreign clients but South African-based firms simply changed their corporate location or created subsidiaries in their client's country.
     
There are also legal problems related to the PMCs. For example, being private entities, PMCs seem to be protected by a few legal loopholes. The investigations by the United States Army into the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal found that employees of CACI and Titan participated in the abuses at Abu Ghraib. A report by Army Major General George R. Fay charged that a translator for Titan raped a young man and a report by Major General Antonio Taguba noted that a Titan contractor advised military police to use interrogation techniques that "equated to physical abuse" (Singer, 2001/2002). While U.S. military personnel charged with abuses were quickly brought before courts-martial, none of the military contractors were charged. The two companies, of course, have denied that their employees did anything wrong. Before the United States returned sovereignty to Iraq on June 30, 2004, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer III declared contractors "immune from the Iraqi legal process" (Singer, 2001/2002).
     
The PMC industry has developed at a fast pace but the legislation to regulate it and supervise it has not caught up. Current international laws, like the Geneva Convention, are primarily written for individual mercenaries.
     
Following from the lack of accountability issue is that the actions of the PMC will reflect on their country of origin. For example, if PMCs abuse Iraqi people, like it has already happened, this reflects on the reputation of the U.S. government and its military, especially since many private contractors are visually impossible to distinguish from U.S. military personnel.
     
Also, people may assume that because a PMC is from the U.S., it has been approved by the U.S. government. This will affect perceptions of American policy and there is the possibility of misinterpretation. Some people may assume that the company has a covert mission in the country and is a proxy of its government (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2002). For example, MPRI has functioned as an instrument of US policy in the Balkans. By licensing it, the State Department has "confirmed" that MPRI's actions are at least consistent with US Government policy. And the fact that PMCs usually include former members of the armed services could lend some plausibility to that view.
     
Close to that issue is the issue of sovereignty. In the 1960s and 70s mercenaries took part in a number of attempted coups, thus posing a real threat to the legitimacy of unstable countries. Although recently there has been no such threats, the theoretical risk remains. Nevertheless, PMCs may be less damaging to sovereignty than an unrestricted rebel movement (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2002).
     
Another way in which PMCs can pose a threat to the sovereignty of a country is through economic exploitation. For example, the countries in Africa most associated with the use of PMCs - Angola, Sierra Leone and Zaire - are those with readily available mineral resources. It is not a good idea for a government to pay for security by mortgaging future returns from mineral exploitation. Nevertheless if a government has no choice, or has to choose between leaving the mineral resources with the rebels or mortgaging some of it to the PMCs it may be best for them to take the latter course (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2002).
     
An interesting potential situation may eventually arise from the training of foreign personnel: U.S. forces may find themselves confronted by an enemy trained by a U.S. private military company.
     
There is another issue which is of concern. Should private contractors who are stranded in a hostile country, with their lives possibly in danger, be saved, or should they be left to fend for themselves?
     
Another point which comes from the fact that PMCs are businesses is that PMCs have a vested interest in conflict. Since they are paid to deal with conflict situations it could be argued that they have no interest in bringing a conflict to an end (unlike national armies who are paid in peacetime) (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2002).
     
PMCs may also be wearing away Britain's and US defenses. Just as the war on terror is stretching the army to the limit, the rise of the profitability of the private sector is tempting many elite soldiers (Green Berets, NAVY Seals, SAS, etc.) to leave for higher-paying jobs. A soldier, sailor or airman gets $60,000 per year at 18 years of service, including housing allowance and some types of special duty pay. However, ex-soldiers who work for civilian contractors can make up to $200 000 a year (Associated Press, 2004). A person cited in Sandline, guesses that there are more ex-SAS people in Iraq than there are currently serving in the regiment.
     
The problem is that troops are lost faster than they could be replaced and trained. The US and British military are even formulating new pay benefits and educational incentives to try to retain their elite troops (WorldTribune.com; Associated Press, 2004). It takes four plus years to train a special operations soldier. Therefore, it's a loss of time and money spent on training the soldier. In addition, this does not leave enough people to train and lead the new recruits into combat. Thus the lives of the new recruits may be endangered and consequently, the lives of civilians in the combat zone. Also, special forces play a central role in hunting and capturing terrorists and training other nation's forces in counter-terrorism fight (Associated Press, 2004). But because of PMCs, the military might become less efficient at a time when the war on terror is waged and does not have a foreseeable end point.
     
In addition to the legal objections, moral ones can be raised concerning the PMCs. It could be argued that to encourage such activity is contrary to our values and to the way in which we order society. In a democracy it seems natural that the state should be defended by its own citizens (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2002).

     

Conclusion

A report by the British American Security Information Council states that the PMCs have done "reasonably well" in fulfilling their contracts in Iraq. Moreover, they are said to have demonstrated professionalism and to be more in tune with local culture than the U.S. military forces (Isenberg, 2004).
     
PMCs should not be thought of as necessarily bad and national armies as always good. In many cases national armies have been charged with abuses, were unaccountable, a danger to stability and frequent violators of human rights. However, the impact of PMCs should be examined and guidelines provided for the industry in order to make clear what is and what is not expected of it. This will help to establish a more respectable and transparent  industry.

     

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