Soldiers of Fortune
Join now to read essay Soldiers of Fortune
Soldiers of Fortune
He switched his assault rifle to safe, and let it hang freely from his neck, as he looked over towards the gate. The dust was just starting to clear up and the only noise to be heard was the screams of the civilians down the street. Only a moment before the area was filled with the sounds of gunfire, and of yelling, both in English and Arabic. The vehicle wouldn’t stop, and after several warnings, he was forced to open fire. It was not a happy time, after all, he had just taken a human life, but he was only doing his job. That being to protect whoever or whatever they are assigned to protect. No, this man is not a member of the US Military, he is a mercenary, a military contractor, an employee of one of the several Private Military Companies the US employs in Iraq to protect it’s personnel and assets.
I consider myself to be someone who keeps up with the news relatively well, but I feel like I’ve been slacking lately see as when I found an article on BBC News entitled “Insiders guide: Security contractors in Iraq” I had no idea what they were talking about. Looking inside I was amazed to find that I had never heard of such a thing as a private “Security Contractor.” The article raised several questions as I read it, the first of which was, “What is a Private Security Contractor?”
After a very short time researching I found out that they go by several terms; Private Security Contractor, Private Security Firm, Privatized Military Firms, Military Service Providers, and last but not least as a Mercenary Company. Well, now I know many different terms for them, but I still don’t know what exactly they are, or what they do. I did a search through some databases and found an article titled “Outsourcing War” from www.Brookings.edu. They say that there are actually three different types of Private Military Companies (PMC). They are the military provider firms a.k.a. private security firms, military consulting firms, and military support firms. The first is the type that provides soldiers for fighting, guarding, etc; they do the actual dirty work. The second will train troops, and provide strategic advising, while the third takes care of the background work: maintenance, logistics, and intelligence. I always knew of mercenaries, soldiers who would fight for pay despite having no obligation to. But I never knew it became such a large-scale business until now, so I began to wonder just how this all got started.
Apparently they started to grow towards the end of the Cold War. At that time instability around the world started to increase, it was the end of an era, and at the same time, the two largest militaries were downsizing. This created a great demand for troops to participate in conflicts and to guard assets in conflict zones around the world along with fulfilling the training and logistics needs of new democracies. Basically, it was simple economics, there was a demand, so companies were eager to do the supplying. In many cases, it is just far simpler for a country to pay a company for military work, rather than calling up more troops and dealing with all the other stuff that goes along with that. But lets not fool ourselves into thinking they’re new inventions, they’ve been around for ages known as mercenaries, or dogs of war, just soldiers who would fight in any conflict providing the pay was right.
I began wondering, how big can these companies possibly be? They must pale in comparison to our government troops, and clearly their involvement in Iraq must be small scale, and not so significant, right? Actually, I found it to be quite the opposite. I only had to look a bit closer at just one of the many PMCs to be proved wrong on both points.
Blackwater is based out of North Carolina, and they are currently (as of April 2007) the largest security firm the United States employs. They hold that title by a landslide, with 987 employees around the world. The closest two companies behind them have 257, and 151, meaning the US employ a total of 1,395 private contractors, and that is just the US alone, we’re not including the firms Iraq and the UK employ. While this may seem like a small number, it makes PMCs the third largest contributor to troops in Iraq. In addition, just their role in Iraq means they have a huge impact there. They are guarding our installations and protecting diplomats and other important people over there, meaning that them doing their job well, will mean the whole operation will run more smoothly. So clearly, we can see that they play an important role in Iraq, not only important by what they’re doing but also in the effect that it frees up our government troops for doing other things besides sitting around guarding installations. Now as for the other point, them being not as effective as our own troops, that’s not true either. In fact Blackwater’s