The involvement of private military contractors in state conflicts has increased, with the US using them extensively in the war on terror. In Afghanistan in 2014, according to Scott L. Efflandt, there was a 1:1 ratio of contractors to uniformed service members. A poll conducted by Rand of Active deployed service members generally had a positive view of contractors, with many reporting that they were competent and helped fulfill missions. The US government sees contractors as a force multiplier that can provide surge capacity and critical jobs at a lower cost. However, this healthy relationship between the US and its contractors does not seem to be present right now in Russia.
Wagner is a PMC group led by Yevgeny Proghiven, which has operated in numerous states, including Libya, the Central African Republic, and Syria. Wagner is viewed as a highly effective and reliable PMC, and it has even joined the fight in Ukraine, hiring countless prisoners for combat operations. However, friction appeared between Wagner and the regular Russian army during the Russian offensive in Bakmut, which is currently seeing a significant Wagner presence. Yevgeny has criticized the Russian military as committing a betrayal and claims that they are deliberately withholding ammunition from his troops which was promised in February. This friction suggests that the relationship between Wagner and the Russian army may not be as solid as it has previously been.
It is unclear how far this friction between the Russian army and Wagner goes. However, it is worth exploring whether the type of combat mission affects how well PMC groups function. The US has primarily engaged in low-intensity conflicts for the past twenty years, while the Russians are currently engaged in a traditional modern war against another state.