The Full Wiki

More info on Private military company

Private military company: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

A private military company (PMC) provides specialized expertise or services of a military nature, sometimes called or classified as mercenary ("soldiers for hire"). Such companies are equally known as private military contractors, Private Security Contractors (PSCs), Private Military Corporations, Private Military Firms, Military Service Providers, and generally as the Private Military Industry.

The services and expertise cover those typically found in governmental military or police forces, but most often on a smaller scale. While PMCs often provide services to train or supplement official armed forces in service of governments, they are also employed by private firms. However, contractors who use offensive force in a war zone could be considered unlawful combatants, thereby referring to the "concept" being implicitly mentioned in the Geneva Conventions and explicitly specified by the Military Commissions Act.

Private military companies supply bodyguards for the Afghan president and pilot armed reconnaissance planes and helicopter gunships to destroy Coca crops in Colombiamarker.
They are licensed by the United States Department of Statemarker, they are contracting with foreign governments, training soldiers and reorganizing militaries in Nigeriamarker, Bulgariamarker, Taiwanmarker, and Equatorial Guineamarker  . The PMC industry is now worth over $100 billion a year.

General terms

PMCs are also known as security contractors, although this term usually refers to individuals employed or contracted by PMCs. Services are mainly rendered for other business corporations, international and non-governmental organizations, and state forces.

Private military companies are sometimes grouped into the general category of defense contractors. However, most defense contractors supply specialized hardware and perhaps also personnel to support and service that hardware, whereas PMCs supply personnel with specialized operational and tactical skills, which often include combat experience.

The 1949 Third Geneva Convention (GCIII) does not recognize the difference between defense contractors and PMCs; it defines a category called supply contractors. If the supply contractor has been issued with a valid identity card from the armed forces which they accompany, they are entitled to be treated as prisoners of war upon capture (GCIII Article 4.1.4). If, however, the contractor engages in combat, he/she can be classified as a mercenary by the captors under the 1977 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions (Protocol I) Article 47.c, unless falling under an exemption to this clause in Article 47. If captured contractors are found to be mercenaries, they are unlawful combatants and lose the right to prisoner of war status. Protocol I was not ratified by the United States because, among other issues, it does not require "freedom fighters" to obey the convention in order to be granted its protections.

United States

The United States State Departmentmarker employs several companies to provide support in danger zones that would be difficult for conventional U.S. forces. The military employs many of them as guards to high ranking U.S. government officials in high risk areas all around the world. The term most often refers to the two dozen U.S. firms that provide services for the Pentagonmarker and indirectly assist in overseas theaters of operation. 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 Departmentmarker entered into 3,601 contracts worth $300 billion with 12 U.S. based PMCs. Some view this as an inevitable cost cutting measure and responsible privatization of critical aspects of a military. However, many feel this is a troubling trend, since these private companies are not directly accountable to a legislative body and may cost more than providing the same functions within the military. Seventeen of the nation's leading private military firms have contributed $12.4 million in congressional and presidential campaigns since 1999.

Another issue of concern has been the recent high-profile operation of various PMCs within the United States, specifically during the initial response after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleansmarker. Supporters are quick to point out the stabilizing influence that the operators of these companies put into place in the first few days provided, whereas detractors have levied claims of abuse and unlawful activities. Neither side has provided much proof to back their claims, however, beyond anecdotal evidence.

Domestic operations are generally under the auspice of state or federal agencies such as the Department of Energy or the Department of Homeland Securitymarker 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.

U.S. administration policy on PMCs

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 Justicemarker 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."

New U.S. law on PMCs

According to the FY2007 Defense Budget appropriation bill, the text of the UCMJ has been amended to allow for prosecution of military contractors who are deployed in a "declared war or a contingency operation."


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) writes: "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 light of the above issues, some commentators have argued that there has been a recent exodus from many special operations forces across the globe towards these private military corporations. The Britishmarker Special Air Servicemarker, the US Special Operations Forces and the Canadian Joint Task Force 2 have allegedly been severely affected. 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. Most are also able to find current information on contracts and job listings through popular industry sites like the Private Military Herald.

PMC activities in Iraq

Currently in Iraqmarker there are thought to be at least 100,000 contractors working directly for the United States Department of Defensemarker 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 registeringemployees, businesses and corporations; provided, however, that Contractors shallcomply with such applicable licensing and registration laws and regulations ifengaging in business or transactions in Iraq other than Contracts. Notwithstandingany provisions in this Order, Private Security Companies and their employeesoperating in Iraq must comply with all CPA Orders, Regulations, Memoranda, andany implementing instructions or regulations governing the existence and activitiesof Private Security Companies in Iraq, including registration and licensing ofweapons and firearms.

PMCs supply support to U.S. military bases throughout the Persian Gulfmarker, from operating mess halls to providing security. They supply armed guards at a U.S. Army base in Qatarmarker, and they use live ammunition to train soldiers at Camp Doha in Kuwaitmarker. 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.

Events involving PMCs in Iraq

  • Employees of private military company CACI and Titan Corp. were involved in the Iraq Abu Ghraib prison scandal in 2003, and 2004. The U.S. Army "found that contractors were involved in 36 percent of the [Abu Ghraib] proven incidents and identified 6 employees as individually culpable", although none have faced prosecution unlike US military personnel.
  • On March 31, 2004, four American private contractors belonging to the company Blackwater USA were killed by insurgents in Fallujahmarker as they drove through the town. They were dragged from their car in one of the most violent attacks on U.S. citizens in the conflict. Following the attack, an angry mob mutilated and burned the bodies, dragging them through the streets before they were hung on a bridge. (See also: 31 March 2004 Fallujah ambush, Operation Vigilant Resolvemarker)
  • On March 28, 2005, 16 American contractors and three Iraqi aides from Zapata Engineering, under contract to the US Army Corps of Engineers to manage an ammunition storage depot, were detained following two incidents in which they allegedly fired upon U.S. Marine checkpoint. While later released, the civilian contractors have levied complaints of mistreatment against the Marines who detained them.
  • On June 5, 2005, Colonel Theodore S. Westhusing committed suicide, after writing a report exonerating US Investigations Services of allegations of fraud, waste and abuse he received in an anonymous letter in May.
  • On October 27, 2005, a "trophy" video, complete with post-production Elvis music, appearing to show private military contractors in Baghdad shooting Iraqi civilians sparked two investigations after it was posted on the Internet. The video has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services. According to the posters, the man who is seen shooting vehicles on this video in Iraq was a South African employee of Aegis Victory team named Danny Heydenreycher. He served in the British military for six years. After the incident the regional director for Victory ROC tried to fire Heydenreycher, but the team threatened to resign if he did. As of December 2005, Aegis is conducting a formal inquiry into the issue, although some concerns on its impartiality have been raised.
  • On September 17, 2007, the Iraqi government announced that it was revoking the license of the American security firm Blackwater USA over the firm's involvement in the deaths of eight civilians in a firefight that followed a car bomb explosion near a State Department motorcade. Blackwater is currently one of the most high-profile firms operating in Iraq, with around 1,000 employees as well as a fleet of helicopters in the country. Whether the group may be legally prosecuted is still a matter of debate.

Legal position

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.

PMC activities elsewhere

  • In 1994 and 1995 South African based PMC Executive Outcomes was involved in two military actions in Africa. In the first conflict, EO fought on the behalf of the Angolan government against UNITA after a UN brokered peace settlement broke down. In the second action EO was tasked with containing a guerrilla movement in Sierra Leonemarker called the Revolutionary United Front. Both missions involved personnel from the firm training 4-5 thousand combat personnel for the Angolan government and retaking control of the diamond fields and forming a negotiated peace in Sierra Leone.
  • In 1999, an incident involving DynCorp in Bosniamarker was followed by a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit was filed against DynCorp employees stationed in Bosnia, which alleged that: "employees and supervisors from DynCorp were engaging in perverse, illegal and inhumane behavior and were illegally purchasing women, weapons, forged passports and participating in other immoral acts."

  • In 2000, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's ABC Television international affairs program "Foreign Correspondent" broadcast a special report "Sierra Leone: Soldiers of Fortune", focussing on the exploits of South African pilot Neall Ellis and his MI-24 Hind gunship. The report also investigated the failures of the UN Peacekeeping Force, and the involvement of mercenaries/private military contractors in providing vital support to UN operations and British military Special Operations in Sierra Leone in 1999-2000.

  • On April 5, 2005, Jamie Smith, CEO of SCG International Risk announced the expansion of services from the traditional roles of PMCs of protection and intelligence to military aviation support. SCG International Air would provide air support, medevac (medical evacuation), rotary and fixed-wing transportation, heavy-lift cargo, armed escort and executive air travel to "any location on earth." This marks a unique addition and expansion of services to rival the capabilities of some country's armies and air forces.
  • On March 27, 2006, J. Cofer Black, vice chairman of Blackwater USA announced to attendees of a special operations exhibition in Jordan that his company could now provide a brigade-size force for low intensity conflicts. According to Black, "There is clear potential to conduct security operations at a fraction of the cost of NATO operations".
  • In mid-May 2006, police in the Democratic Republic of the Congomarker arrested 32 alleged mercenaries of different nationalities; 19 South Africans, 10 Nigeriansmarker and three Americans. Half of them worked for a South African company named Omega Security Solutions and the Americans for AQMI Strategy Corp. The men were accused of plotting to overthrow the government but charges weren't pressed. The men were deported to their home countries.
  • In 2006, a U.S. congressional report listed a number of PMCs and other enterprises that have signed contracts to carry out anti-narcotics operations and related activities as part of Plan Colombia. DynCorp was among those contracted by the State Department, while others signed contracts with the Defense Department. Other companies from different countries, including Israelmarker, have also signed contracts with the Colombian Defense Ministry to carry out security or military activities.

List of PMCs

U.S. companies

Name HQ Portfolio Details
AirScan Titusville, FLmarker US Department of Defensemarker, US Air Force, NASAmarker, US Forest Service, National Test Pilot Schoolmarker, National Response Corporation, US Department of the Interiormarker, Bureau of Land Reclamation, Arkansasmarker, Floridamarker, Illinoismarker, Louisianamarker, Missourimarker, New Jerseymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, and West Virginiamarker, Maximum Protective Services, ECOPETROL: the national oil company of Colombia, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Cabinda Gulf Oil Company (Angola), SONANGOL: national oil company of Angola Provides airborne surveillance and security
Custer Battles McLean, Virginiamarker Iraq and oil sector (at present, have ceased operations in Iraq)
Defion Internacional
DynCorp Falls Church, VAmarker Iraqmarker
ITT Corporation White Plains, NY Kosovomarker
KBR Houstonmarker Formerly a Division of Halliburton
Military Professional Resources Inc. Alexandria, VAmarker
MVM, Inc. Viennamarker, Virginiamarker CIA and NSA contractor
Northbridge Services Group Turkmenistan, Somalia, Nigeria
Northrop Grumman Los Angelesmarker
Paratus World Wide Protection Charlotte, New Jersey Iraq
Raytheon Cambridge, MAmarker
Triple Canopy, Inc. Herndon, Virginiamarker South America, Iraqmarker
Sharp End International Mainly uses Australian and New Zealand ex-special forces instructors
Titan Corporation San Diego, CAmarker Benin Triple Canopy Iraq
Vinnell Corporation Fairfax, Virginiamarker Turkey, Saudi Arabia
Xe Moyock, NCmarker Iraqmarker, Afghanistanmarker, New Orleans, Louisianamarker, and others Formerly Blackwater Worldwide
Pathfinder Security Services Casper, Wyomingmarker Oil, gas and mining sector; mainly in the US
Alexander Worldwide Protection Services Fredericksburg, VAmarker North Africa, Middle East, Caribbeanmarker, Latin America, Washington, DCmarker Member of Nine Lives Association - Black Cat Designated

U.K. companies

Name HQ Portfolio Details
Aegis Defence Services Iraqmarker, Afghanistanmarker, and others
ArmorGroup Now part of G4S
Control Risks Group Provider of security and armed guards for British Embassies and Consulates
Erinys International Joint South Africa-Britainmarker company
Sandline International Ceased operations on April 16, 2004


See also


Academic publications

  • The Market for Force: The Consequences of Privatizing Security, by Deborah D. Avant, George Washington University, August 2005. ISBN 0-521-61535-6

  • Armies Without States: The Privatization of Security, by Robert Mandel, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002.

  • Private Armies and Military Intervention, David Shearer, April 1998. ISBN 0-19-829440-9

  • Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, Peter W. Singer, Cornell University Press, March 2004. ISBN 0-8014-8915-6

  • "Soldiers of Misfortune – Is the Demise of National Armies a Core Contributing Factor in the Rise of Private Security Companies?" by Maninger, Stephan in Kümmel, Gerhard and Jäger, Thomas (Hrsg.) Private Security and Military Companies: Chances, Problems, Pitfalls and Prospects, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden, 2007. ISBN 978-3-531-149011

Non-academic publications

  • Making A Killing, James Ashcroft. Virgin Books. ISBN 1-85227-311-9

  • Licensed to Kill : Privatizing the War on Terror, Robert Young Pelton ISBN 1-4000-9781-9

  • Three Worlds Gone Mad: Dangerous Journeys through the War Zones of Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific, Robert Young Pelton, August 2006. ISBN 1-59228-100-1

  • An Unorthodox Soldier, Tim Spicer, September 2000. ISBN 1-84018-349-7

  • Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Jeremy Scahill, Nation Books. February 2007. ISBN 978-1560259794


  1. Private Security Transnational Enterprises in Colombia José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective February, 2008.
  2. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to Speak at JHU SAIS, press release December 2, 2005
  3. Secretary Rumsfeld's Remarks to the John Hopkins, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
  4. Bill Number H.R.5122 for the 109th Congress
  5. H.R. 5122 109th: John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007
  6. Crisis as SAS men quit for lucrative Iraq jobs, The Daily Telegraph article dated 15/02/2005
  7. 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
  8. $150,000 incentive to stay in US elite forces, The Daily Telegraph article dated 07/02/2005
  9. Special forces get pay raise, National Post article dated August 26, 2006
  10. P. W. Singer (March/April 2005) Outsourcing War. Foreign Affairs. Council on Foreign Relations. New York City, NY
  11. A movieclip containing the behavior of alleged Aegis Defence Services driving in Iraq
  12. 'Trophy' video exposes private security contractors shooting up Iraqi drivers, Daily Telegraph article from 26/11/2005.
  13. Discussion on a blog about Aegis trophy video
  14. Blackwater license being revoked in Iraq
  16. U.S. firm offers 'private armies' for low-intensity conflicts, WorldTribune article from March 29, 2006
  17. Congo Holding 3 Americans in Alleged Coup Plot, Washington Post article from May 25, 2006
  18. Congo Deports Nearly 3 Dozen Foreigners, Washington Post article from May 29, 2006.

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address