Friday, March 30, 2018

The Rise of Private Military Firms

Private Military Firms (PMF) are the corporate amalgamation of mercenaries and modern technology. According to the Brookings Institute, modern PMFs emerged out of the 1990s under the influence of the end of the Cold War, transformations in the nature of warfare that blurred the lines between soldiers and civilians, and a general trend toward privatization and outsourcing of government functions around the world. These new entities formed by retired military personnel provide a multitude of services, ranging from direct combat utilization to providing the background necessities to fulfill their clients' missions. 

Rapidly increasing alongside the number of PMFs is the usage of PMFs by countries. According to the Berkeley Political Review, the United States is the largest customer of PMFs. Compared to World War II, where 10% of America's armed forces were privately contracted, during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the proportion grew to 50%. This trend appears to continue, with a yearly increasing amount of contracts awarded to PMFs across the world. In 2015 alone, the Pentagon had spent $274 billion to federal contractors. 

Just like all purchases, the billions of dollars worth of taxpayer money spent on PMFs also comes with its benefits and challenges. By hiring PMFs, governments are able to reduce the number of its official military casualties, expand its area of reach through the aid of PMFs, and tap into a source of highly trained and equipped personnel for military operations without long periods of training. While from a business perspective, PMFs are a genius moneymaking machine - they hire military personnel to work military roles on taxpayer money. However, from the government's perspective, they are losing their trained human capital to PMFs and then made to hire them at a higher rate. Furthermore, PMFs have also been notoriously known for their secrecy and lack of transparency; leading to miscommunications and oversight issues. 

In today's capitalist society, as long as governments fail to address the downsides of PMF-Government relationships, the challenges of hiring PMFs may eventually outweigh the benefits. Governments should be able and ready to address the self-defeating cycle that feeds into more PMFs and hold PMFs accountable by being smarter customers. 

Casendino, A., Casendino, A., Singh, A., Singh, A., Kadie, T., & Kadie, T. et al. (2017). Soldiers of Fortune: the Rise of Private Military Companies and their Consequences on America’s Retrieved 30 March 2018, from

Singer, P. (2018). Outsourcing WarBrookings. Retrieved 30 March 2018, from

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