Private Military Companies Iraq Illustrate a Trend Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

private military companies Iraq illustrate a trend warfare? -No, Historical reasons great empires employed a large number mercenaries.-What reasons, -Type firms, divided types- type spear

Private military companies

Today's society is more challenging and dynamic than it has ever been. And this trend is manifested within the military sector as well. Here, the employees in the division have to be better motivated in order to risk their lives and this motivation has to be complex, and include both financial and non-financial incentives. While the major non-financial incentive would be the sense of fighting to protect one's country, the financial incentive has to be substantial and significantly larger than that of any other category of employees.

The modern day army then integrates technologic developments to improve the nature and outcome of its operations. It as such strives to answer the more and more complex demands of the contemporaneous society and, in doing so, it integrates the developments of the communities, such as incremental employee demands, increasing public attention and concern or technologic developments.

In other words, the modern day military employs a wide array of tools in order to attain its primary objective -- maintaining peace. But despite political and social efforts, peace is often not sustainable and conflicts arise. In the context of conflicts, parties employ a wide array of techniques in order to increase their chances of success. One of these means is that of employing private military companies.

Throughout the recent past, the number of parties using the services of private military companies from Iraq has increased. Based on this observation, a question is being posed relative to the occurrence of a trend. The current endeavor strives to answer this question.

2. Private military companies of Iraq

The private military companies are the offspring of the traditional mercenaries, yet the players in the industry desire to distance themselves from this concept of mercenary. The private military companies offer a wide array of services, from training to involvement in combat and they serve a wide array of customers, including private agents, but even federal institutions. At the level of the services they offer, these include, but are not limited to, the following:

The protection of authority by the employers

The management of weapons

The gathering of intelligence

The offering of security consulting

The offering of non-military functions, such as catering or logistics

The offering of training programs to security staffs

The guarding of assigned locations and so on (Christian, 2005).

A majority of these private military companies is located in Iraq, but their operations and actual contracts are often mysterious.

"Private military companies (PMCs) operate extensively in Iraq, sometimes with highly sophisticated military means including helicopters and advanced computer systems allowing them to engage in direct combat […]. The number of PMCs involved in Iraq, their often -- mission critical -- activities and the fact that they are operating alongside the forces of a multinational coalition, confer a specific salience to the issue today" (Christian, 2005).

While the actual number of private military companies in Iraq is difficult to identify, in 2004, it was estimated that there were over 20,000 private security contractors in the country. This figure represented 10 per cent of all foreign military in Iraq -- and it was following an ascendant trend (Christian, 2005). It as such represented a source of contracts for parties across the globe.

As it has already been recognized, there is a certain sense of secrecy surrounding the contracts and operations of the private military companies in Iraq. A review of the available sources has however revealed the existence of the following contracts (it is assumed that several more exist):

Contracts to escort prisoners near Baghdad

Contracts signed by the Bush Administration to help manage international agendas. "With the U.S. military stretched to the limit, PMCs are being used by the Bush administration to provide the needed military and logistical means to conduct colonial interventions and wars of aggression. Without the services of mercenaries, the U.S. government would be compelled to increase the size of the U.S. military or to consider reviving the military draft" (Conachy, 2004).

Contracts to provide safety to the American diplomats traveling in the Middle East

Contracts to control the population and manage conflicts through times of regime changes in the Middle East

Florida-based firm ArmorGroup has a contract with 500 Gurkhas to protect the headquarters and transports of Bechtel and Halliburton's KBR in Baghdad (Conachy, 2004).

Overall, there is a sense of secrecy and ambiguity surrounding the contracts of Iraqi private military companies, but fact remains that the industry is one which flourishes. And the trend is expected to be maintained as the private security contractors register tremendous profits. It has even happened that soldiers in various armies have quit their jobs in order to become better paid mercenaries (Conachy, 2004). At an international level however, the question remains whether the contracting of the Iraqi private military companies has created a new trend within the societies. At this stage, it is argued that this is not the case, as mercenaries were always used by countries. The following section demonstrates this through a look across history.

3. Historic use of private military

Mercenaries -- now called private military contractors -- are essentially people or agencies specialized in military operations and assistance. They are not traditionally part of the nation hiring them, but they will bring in their expertise for money. The advantage of using mercenaries is that they are specialized, professional and efficient; they make better bodyguards and they are willing to engage in military action when the national army is not; the mercenaries are not driven by sentiments -- unlike the national forces -- and they are as such more efficient.

Private military companies have been used throughout the entire history and they have played essential parts in winning wars. As in the case of the Iraqi private military companies, the mercenaries of the past were surrounded in mystery and silence; they were not mentioned in historic documents and were not praised with glory. Their existence and role cannot however be denied. Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker explain:

"Their use is almost universal in advanced societies, and they have often played key roles in history. Without them Carthage could have never challenged Rome, and Greek mercenaries were a crucial factor in the spread of Hellenistic civilization from Italy to Afghanistan after the death of Alexander the Great.

Mercenaries were an essential, and underrated, element of medieval warfare. Flemish mercenaries, for examples, allowed King Stephen of England (1135-1154) to fight off the Plantagenets for nearly twenty years. When Henry II came to power, he banished the Flemings, who were hated by the English -- and promptly hired his own mercenaries. By the end of the medieval period, mercenaries were everywhere in Europe" (Cowley and Parker, 2001).

4. The rise of private military companies

While it is generally assumed that the private military companies are the modern day followers of mercenaries, some sources indicate a real difference between the two. In this order of ideas, the 7th Mercenary Division argues that a mercenary is not a private military company. In the first case, the private military company is an organized group, regulated and with the ability to serve any federal institution in the world. It has rights and obligations and cannot exit a contract unless the terms for which it was signed are completed or if both parties agree to the dissolution of the contract.

Mercenaries on the other hand are "paid up front to gather their supplies, and team. A mercenary enters a contract, but can refund the money at any time and opt out of the conflict. Mercenaries are often just one or two people, but can be as large as 15" (7th Mercenary Division).

The modern day private military companies became popular during the 1990s decade, when a proliferation of private military services was witnessed (Private Military). During the decade, the Cold War was still manifesting. The ideological conflicts and the absence of armed clashes created a context in which the need for the army was decreased. As a result, many soldiers were discharged and they as such entered the workforce. But it was difficult for them to become integrated in the economic market and they would soon enough become the candidates for the private military companies.

Another element which sat at the basis of the emergence of the private military companies is represented by the focus of governments. In this order of ideas, before the emergence of the Cold War, smaller size countries felt protected by the larger superpowers, such as Japan or the United States. This protection was perceived in relationship to the alliances made during the World Wars, but as the superpowers became entangled in the ideological dispute, the smaller size states found themselves without protection. And they as such turned to private troops.

These private troops would initially be joined by both financial desires, but also by sustained ideological…

Cite This Essay:

"Private Military Companies Iraq Illustrate A Trend" (2011, May 27) Retrieved January 18, 2018, from

"Private Military Companies Iraq Illustrate A Trend" 27 May 2011. Web.18 January. 2018. <>

"Private Military Companies Iraq Illustrate A Trend", 27 May 2011, Accessed.18 January. 2018,