NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Private-Sector Military Services

July 21, 2003

The United States is making increasing use of private contractors to provide a variety of military services, including armed men. Use of such businesses is a growing worldwide trend; globally, these companies have annual revenue of more than $100 billion a year and operate in at least 50 countries.

Known as "privatized military firms," these companies specialize in personnel and services rather than weapons. They range from small consulting firms that offer the advice of retired generals to transnational corporations that lease out battalions of commandoes.

  • From 1994 to 2002, the Pentagon entered into more than 3,000 contracts with private military firms.
  • In Iraq, there was roughly one private military worker in the region for every 10 soldiers fighting the war -- as opposed to one for every 100 troops in the 1991 gulf war.

Companies are providing logistics for every major American military deployment. Corporations have even taken over much of military training and recruiting, including the Reserve Officer Training Corps programs at more than 200 American universities. In Iraq, private employees worked on everything from feeding and housing coalition troops to maintaining weapons systems like the B-2 bomber.

In addition to a proposed privatized security force to guard sites in Iraq, the new Iraqi military will be trained by corporate consultants.

Privatization often increases military capacities and cost efficiency. Analysts note that there are almost no international laws or national regulations on the industry.

Source: P. W. Singer (Brookings Institution), "Have Guns, Will Travel," New York Times, July 21, 2003.


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