Small Wars Journal

private military contractors

Contractors in Afghanistan are Fleecing the American Taxpayer

The defense contracting industry undeniably plays a critical role in the nation’s defense. From research and development, acquisitions, consulting, intelligence, cyber, logistics, and information technology, there are myriad ways the private sector makes valuable contributions that advance U.S. national security policy goals and keep Americans safe. But there are also many problems with how these operational support contracts are executed on the ground, which various U.S. government agencies have acknowledged for years. Unfortunately, the model the U.S.-led coalition is relying on for employing contractors in Afghanistan remains rife with poor accountability, ineffectiveness, and fundamental strategic communications issues.

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Private Parts: The Private Sector and U.S. Peace Enforcement

This essay therefore holds the assumption that engaging in UN-led enforcement operations is to the geopolitical benefit of the United States and endeavors to answer the following question: If the United States chooses to contribute to UN peace enforcement operations, to what extent should this effort be privatized? To answer this question, this essay defines UN peace enforcement and examines the present and potential role of private military and security companies (PMSCs), as well as the role of PMSCs in the US's current enforcement model. The advantages and disadvantages of using PMSCs are then addressed, followed by a recommendation that the United States seek to privatize its UN peace enforcement contributions by engaging PMSCs.

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A Test for Privatization in Afghanistan

Erik Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater has been pushing the privatization of the Afghan war as an alternative to the present strategy of gradually completing the Afghanization of the war. This is obviously a very controversial proposal, but it is one that at least merits some consideration. There is one remote area of Afghanistan that might well serve as a laboratory for privatization - the provision of construction security for the Ring Road in the remote northwestern region. Completing of the road was the most wicked problem I faced in my time in country, and the situation has not improved since I left in 2012.

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