Security, Inc.

Here is one of the more comprehensive articles I have seen on the role of private security organizations in major conflicts and crises around the globe.

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But it is not well appreciated that PMCs now operate all over the world. While no authoritative figures are available, there are estimates that the PMC industry generate US$100 billion in annual revenues and that PMCs operate in more than 50 countries. According to a study published last year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, since 1994, the US Defense Department has entered into 3,061 contracts valued at more than $300 billion with 12 of the 24 US-based PMCs.

Organizations like the ones mentioned in the article raise some ethical issues, largely due to our unfamiliarity with them, but in my opinion, they solve more ethical issues than they raise, and on balance are a welcome trend. Unlike conventional military forces, they do not rely on state funding for support. Nor are they able to conscript citizens. Both their source of revenues and human capital is voluntary. If they operate dissatisfactorily, their financial supporters can immediately withdraw their support via market mechanisms, unlike militaries which can get bogged down in conflicts due to political maneuvering. They can evolve defensive strategies in a decentralized manner, which has the potential to keep up with ever-changing terrorist means.

Yes, there is also the possibility that instead of using voluntary means for funding, they will use their guns to raise revenue outside of their stated operational procedures, but vigilance can keep a watchful eye on such developments. And lets face it, if that happens, it will not be any worse than conventional military forces that already exist in most places.

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