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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/2519

Title: From gun to briefcase: the rise of the private military firm 1990-2007
Authors: McCallum, Sean Fitzgerald
Keywords: History;Mercenary troops;Military history
Issue Date: 27-Dec-2007
Abstract: There is an often-quoted statistic stating that in the Gulf War of 1991, seen by some as the last hurrah of the cold war military, the ratio of active military personnel to contractors and civilians was approximately 60 to 1. The Iraq War of 2003 has seen near parity between contractors and the total number of troops deployed. This number signifies a fundamental shift in military doctrine that bears examining. Tasks once seen as the purview of militaries around the world have been outsourced to private interests such as Blackwater USA and DynCorp. These firms all fall under the umbrella designation of the Private Military Firm (PMF). This thesis seeks to explain how these firms have achieved such critical roles in United States military operations since the Gulf war. In doing so I will argue that militaries in the post cold war vacuum have sought to reduce size and increase efficiency through the outsourcing of core functions to privatized interests. Due to a large industrial military infrastructure being in place since the end of World War II, the move of the military toward privatization of some functions is not unusual. That a whole new industry has sprung up around the military with a minimum of public knowledge, while avoiding the derogatory “mercenary” label is unusual. This thesis will seek to answer three questions. First, to whom do the PMFs answer? For example, in April 2001, a single engine Cessna was shot down by the Peruvian Air force under the guidance of a surveillance plane operated by Aviation Development Corporation as part of American counter-narcotics operations in South America. The plane contained a group of Baptist missionaries, of whom a mother and her daughter were killed.1 The CIA--for whom the contractors were working--claimed it was a matter for the company. The company claimed it was carrying out its contract with the CIA; therefore, it would fall on the C.I.A. Second, is there a real cost benefit to using private forces to carry out the tasks once executed by national militaries? In 2004 Tim Spicer, former head of the well known PMF Sandline Security, won a $293,000,000 contract for the newly minted AEGIS Defense Services Ltd. to provide security for multiple organizations and corporations currently active in the Iraq conflict. This is the largest contract awarded to a non-US firm so far in the Iraq War. Finally, what is the role of technology in this burgeoning industry? For example the military theories of net-centric and 4th generation warfare incorporate technology as the basis for national strategy in the coming years. These new military strategies will require not only the classic military presence of “boots on the ground”, but an extensive and complex communications and information relay system to fight a wars on not only the strategic front, but political and media fronts as well. To begin I will define the structure of the PMF. In this section I hope to establish a vocabulary by which I can explain how the PMF has created a multi-tiered, multi service business that separates it from the mercenary. The next section will be three case studies examining individual companies and what they have contributed to the debate using the three questions asked above. Finally, I will divide this history into 3 eras; The Gulf War, September 11, 2001, and finally the Afghan and Iraqi wars. These four events have defined the development, explosive rise, and ultimate testing of the privatized military industry.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/2519
Appears in Collections:Drexel Theses and Dissertations

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