Privatizing While Transforming

By Bowman, Marion E. | Defense Horizons, July 2007 | Go to article overview

Privatizing While Transforming

Bowman, Marion E., Defense Horizons


The Armed Forces of the United States are designed to be supported by capabilities provided by civilians. The Army, for example, depends not only on Reserve and National Guard components for warfighting elements, but also on private contractors for numerous roles no longer performed by military personnel. Originally working in small contingents focused on logistical functions, private contractors now rival military personnel in number in the battlespace. In addition to providing direct logistical support to the military, contractors perform equipment maintenance and reconstruction work, train military and police, and work as civil affairs staff, interpreters, and even interrogators. They also provide private armed security services. The issues arising from new roles are exacerbated by the growth of the contractor population in conflict zones at a pace that defies effective recordkeeping.

This rapid increase in the number of contractors has outstripped procedures meant more for acquisition of tangible objects than services. It has also placed private contractors in harm's way in a manner not envisaged in previous conflicts. Legal and regulatory schemes have been challenged and perhaps stretched beyond limits. The laws of war divide the world neatly into combatants and civilians, but on today's battlefields, the distinctions blur. Moreover, there are neither recognized nor logical rules of engagement for private individuals. The laws of armed conflict not only fail to accommodate armed private citizens, but also, in some instances, may treat them as unlawful combatants. Put simply, the requirements of the contemporary battlespace do not mesh well with procedures, regulations, and laws devised for a different era.

Growth of Privatization

The end of the Cold War exposed ethnic tensions and intra- and interstate rivalries that destabilized broad regions of the world. Neither the extent nor the nature of the resulting conflicts had been anticipated. In these conflicts, the battlespace is cluttered with large numbers of personnel and entities not previously seen as major players in conflict arenas. These include the United Nations and its many components, foreign governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), a plethora of news media, and even private entrepreneurs who arrive without benefit of government sponsorship. The main driver of new entries in the battlespace is privatization of activities formerly performed by uniformed personnel.

In the United States, privatization means any shift of activities or functions from the state to the private sector and, more specifically, any shift of the production of goods and services from public to private. Especially where the privatized functions are military, this process has been contentious, as many argue that national security itself is being privatized. (1) However, it is beyond cavil that private military firms must provide the military with certain professional services intrinsically linked to warfare, which begs the question of what is and is not inherently governmental. The services to be provided often are ill defined until events unfold or technology changes. Although regulations for contracting these services are detailed, they leave significant issues to be resolved as they arise because the regulations were devised in another time and for purposes that do not always suit today's threat environment.

Probably the most significant change comes as a result of outsourcing some logistical needs previously provided by uniformed personnel. That outsourcing may be accomplished through NGOs, other governments, international organizations, or private contractors and may include outsourcing within the continental United States. This paper deals exclusively with the issues that have arisen from using private companies to support the U.S. military in a foreign conflict. For that purpose, Iraq will be the backdrop that illustrates the speed with which earlier practices of outsourcing have been overtaken by threats not contemplated only a few years ago. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Privatizing While Transforming


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.