In the debate on the use of PMCs there are many things that need to be considered. Their effectiveness, cost, whether they are being properly regulated and held accountable as well as several other subjects. As I said last week I would like to touch more on this debate in the coming weeks rather than on the actual use of these companies. I would argue that the majority of these companies, especially those employed by the U.S., are extremely effective. They recruit most of their members from some of the most prestigious special forces groups in the world. Therefore some of them have much more training than the average soldiers in today’s military. I would also argue that their lack of accountability also allows them to be as effective as they are. I have gone into detail regarding the regulations of PMCs in an earlier post. However, these companies are not held to the same rules of engagement that our military is faced with, which allows them to be proactive, rather than reactive, when dealing with rising situations. The cost of hiring these companies versus using our own troops is also another highly debated controversy. Those who are for using PMCs argue that each mission costs the government less money while also paying the operators more. However, what these people don’t like to mention are the very expensive bases we construct and allow these companies to use within their area of operation. As well as the food that is provided for them. The cost of training soldiers is also included in the military’s costs. However, since these organizations recruit from our military they do not need to train their operators. If the government were to rely solely on contractors all these expenses would then fall on these corporations and increase the price exponentially.
When I first started this blog I set out to investigate the use of private military corporations in modern conflict. I had originally planned to focus on those forces employed by the United States for the conflicts within the middle east. However, it did not take me very long to see flaws with this course of action. The largest and most difficult problem I had to overcome with this topic was the lack of fluidity. There was very little developing news to keep the blog fresh from week to week. This forced me to cover topics that were, in some cases, over a year old. It also forced me to stray away from the main focus of the United States and the middle east. The fact that the situation within theses conflicts was is slow to evolve also meant that after I had written about a conflict it was extremely difficult to follow up on that topic without repeating many of the same points I had already made. This forced me to limit my main focus, the middle east, to only two blog posts.
After Branching out my topic a little further I was able to incorporate many new and interesting topics, my personal favorite being the post on the security forces in South Africa. However, after re-reading my posts I feel that I have left out one of the biggest and most controversial debates on the use of PMCs. That is the moral dilemma between using mercenaries versus a national military. I mention my personal opinion only briefly in my post on the USCENTCOM. My lack of opinion in all posts was another issue I noticed after reading them again. However, this discussion is so complex that I could have spent two or more posts discussing solely the differing opinions on their use, effectiveness and cost.
As we near the end of the semester and begin to focus in on our analytical papers I’m drawn further away from the use of these companies in conflict, and more towards the arguments for or against their use in general. Another possible topic might be on whether they are being properly regulated. With both topics I would focus on the arguments and regulations within the United States in order to keep the topics manageable. The challenge with both of these topics is how similar they are, it will be difficult to keep the focus on one topic without going to in depth with the other. However, this audit has given me several ideas for future posts and I look forward to researching them in the coming weeks.
Since the Russian invasion of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine both Washington and Moscow have denied allegations of sending troops to aid either side. However there are suspicions that both sides are hiding behind PMCs in order to allow them to continue saying that there are no national military forces involved in the conflict. After anonymous soldiers seized the Crimean peninsula in late February 2014 the Russian government stated that no Russian troops had been deployed. Although the troops may not have been Russian, intelligence suggests that they are being controlled by the Russian government. Sources say that the soldiers in Crimea belonged to Vnevedomstvenaya Okhran, a private military corporation based in Russia. On the other side of the conflict German intelligence services reported seeing western mercenaries in April of 2014. Who was in charge of these forces or who was paying for them remained a mystery. However there was reported to be up to four hundred soldiers working for the Academi group, formally known as Blackwater Security. The company denied all allegations of involvement in the conflict. However if there were four hundred soldiers reported almost a year ago, how many could there be now? Around the time of these allegations the nationalist party had pushed legislation through regional government and was now aiming for parliament. This new legislation was aimed at expanding the private security industry in Russia. The authors of this new legislation claim that the country had a “necessity for capable and specialized commercial organizations to enforce national interests in cases when international politics or law prevent the government from using regular military forces”. This necessity is exactly what is suspected to have been behind the occupation of Crimea. This new legislation puts the Russian Federal Security Service in charge of all activities PMCs are involved in in Russia, claiming to allow them to be monitored and held accountable. However, I would see it as just another branch of the Russian military that allows them to maintain anonymity.
South Africa has become known as the largest “hub” for private security forces in the entire world. As of two thousand fourteen there were more active members in security firms than there was in the South African Police Force and the South African Army combined, with more than four hundred thousand members in security firms and only one hundred and fifteen thousand active police officers. In nineteen ninety seven the number of private security contractors was one hundred fifteen thousand three hundred and thirty one. Since then the number has grown two hundred and eighty six percent. Meanwhile the number of arrests have gone up only fifty four percent. The number of companies in the region has grown to nine thousand. The colossal crime rate mixed with the under trained and under funded police forces within the country forced the providence’s and even some small neighborhoods to hire security firms to patrol their streets, and over several years has caused this drastic spike in security forces. These companies claim that their success is due to the more advanced training and equipment that their officers are given, makes them better equipped for any situation and also serves as a strong deterrent. These firms insist that they are only there to aid and assist the South African Police Forces. However some experts in the region are concerned about what might happen to a country that has more Armed security forces than is police force and its military combined. These experts continue to push for more legislation in regulating these corporations such as the PSIRA (Private Security Industry Regulatory Act). Which gave the Government the ability to control wages and other small aspects of the industry. Also a new regulation passed in twenty fourteen limits the foreign ownership of the security forces to forty nine percent. However, despite these new regulations on the industry it shows no signs of slowing down after last years violent crime rating end at a very high thirty three percent of all crime.
Last month in the Presidents State of The Union address he stated that there were less than fifteen thousand American troops in Afghanistan. At the same time USCENTCOM reports show the the number of contractors in Afghanistan is close to forty thousand, almost three times the number of American troops. Those reports boast a total of over fifty thousand contractors within CENTCOM, five thousand of which are in Iraq. The Office of Workers Copensation Programs also released a report showing the eight hundred and seventeen companies that the United States employs within CENTCOM. The larges being DynCorp. A private military corporation that has many contracts with the U.S. in both CENTCOM and AFRICOM. Earlier this month President Obama put forth a motion to congress to authorize troops on the ground in Iraq to aid in the fight against ISIS. Publicly President Obama claims that these troops will not have a combat role, but instead will be training and support the combat operations of the Iraqi and Syrian forces. As well as giving us the capability of responding with force should we need to. However, as I have said in earlier posts the President is looking for private military corporations that can take the fight on the ground to ISIS without putting American troops on the front line. I’ve heard the government boast about the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by the drawback of troops. However they have not been open about the tens of thousands of contractors that are still there pursuing American interests. This propaganda spreads false hope of the end of a conflict that is still very much weighing on the American tax payer. Some people argue that there are no longer American lives in danger, however statistics show that thirty percent of workers employed by these companies are American. Meaning we continue to put American lives in danger. I personally would much rather use our troops than foreign mercenaries.
As private military corporations have become more and more popular over the past several decades there have been demands within the international communities to impose regulations on these organizations. In 2000 the United States government passed the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA). This extended the Uniform Code Of Military Justice to contractors. However, this only applied to security forces hired by the U.S. Negotiations at the international level continued until 2010 when the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers was created. Although this did set a standard to promote accountability for military contractors, there was very little that it did to help enforce these regulations. Under these standards companies were given a standard of how they were to conduct there operations, however the enforcement was left up to the country that hired them. Which made it very easy for companies to literally get away with murder. In 2007 U.S. contractors working for Blackwater Security (one of the largest private military corporations in America) shot into Nisour Square in Baghdad killing 17 civilians. This caused the State Department to launch a full investigation of the organizations operations in the region. Then after receiving death threats from a Blackwater manager, the investigator was pulled out of the region and no further sanctions were placed on the organization. The four soldiers who were deemed responsible for the incident have only just started there trial as of June 2014. This incident is just one of many that shows just how loosely these mercenary firms are being regulated. Also because the contractors are hired by the U.S. they have immunity from being tried in the Iraqi court system for there crimes. Now President Obama has asked congress to officially declare war on ISIS he plans to use the under regulated military corporations to lead the charge in order to fulfill his promise to the American people that he will not put our “boots on the ground”.