The Case for PMFs in UN Peacekeeping Forces
Private military firms are increasing being viewed as an option for humanitarian groups as a military option. Some argue that the role of PMFs could be extended to include guarding compounds, but also vulnerable refugees and citizens. International Executive Service Organization (IESO) has made its goal to cater towards humanitarian groups since its inception. There motto states that “we strive to bring harmony and stability to regions under conflict, quickly and with the minimum of disruption to the local population. We are able to rapidly deploy, allowing stability to return, thus enabling deployment of aid. Agencies are then able to carry out emergency relief unhindered and without fear of physical harm.”
The effectiveness of PMFs in contracted war is astounding, but their long term effectiveness is questioned. A great example of this contract-only effectiveness is seen in the experience of Executive Outcomes in Sierra Leone in 1995. The Revolutionary United Front had nearly defeated the Sierra Leone military, but multinational mining companies hired Executive Outcomes and the rebels were defeated in a matter of weeks. Once the contact ended, violence once again erupted and the UN was sent in in 1999. Despite this lack of long term vision, PMFs have proved more timely and efficient than UN forces.
Projections of a 6 month safe haven operation in Rwanda would have cost Executive Outcomes $ 600,000 a day with troops deployed in two weeks, whereas a UN relief operation costs would top $3 million a day and delayed deployment. Despite breaking through bureaucratic gridlock of the UN, critics exclaim at the thought of PMFs joining forces with the United Nations because of their lack of commitment and ethics. PMFs are looked down upon because they contact for a specific amount of time, with no allegiance to a specific nation. Their goal is of a corporate nature. The corporate mindset might increase capabilities and efficiency, but it often limits ethics.
Negative cases emerge when looking at companies such as Blackwater and Executive Outcomes, but many PMFs are well vetted and contain former military members of US and British Special Forces. The United Nations should consider the faults of PMFs that have failed in the past when they investigate the use of PMFs as a part of humanitarian or peacekeeping forces, but well vetted and ethical PMFs are worth a look for the UN to increase efficiency and budgetary constraints. Source: Singer