Victory for Hire: Private Security Companies' Impact on Military Effectiveness

By Molly Dunigan | Go to book overview

6 CONCLUDING LESSONS
AND RECOMMENDATIONS

AS THE PREVIOUS CHAPTERS HAVE ILLUSTRATED, contracting of military functions occurs to an unprecedented extent in the United States at present and shows little indication of tapering off in the near future. Such extensive contracting practices occur for numerous reasons. Primarily, it is argued to be less expensive and more efficient over the long term to hire a contractor to perform a soldier’s job: contractors require very little to no training (and so can be deployed immediately) and require no retirement plan, pension, health care, or related long-term benefits. This viewpoint reflects the worldwide tendency toward the outsourcing of government functions that began in the 1980s. Despite ever-increasing calls for increased regulation of and transparency within the industry, the historical pervasiveness of mercenarism and the modern industry’s strong position vis-à-vis contracting states both indicate that the private military and security industry is here to stay for the foreseeable future. What remains to be determined is the manner in which this industry can and should best be used to support democratic endeavors.

Numerous government, academic, and media reports over the past several years have assessed the various effects of the private military and security industry on the militaries of the United States and its partners, as well as on U.S. operations and U.S. legal and moral accountability both at home and abroad. More theoretical accounts have assessed the impact of the modern private military and security industry on the future of the Westphalian state as we know it, pointing to the rise of the modern industry as a sign of the decline of the state’s monopoly on legitimate violence. However, little analysis of private security contractors’ impact on democracies’ military effectiveness and conflict

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