When you are a soldier in the military, and you’re firing at an enemy alongside several other soldiers, you don’t know if it was your gun, your bullet, that killed someone. “I’d rather not know,” says Stephen Friday, who spent 12 years in the British army before becoming a private military contractor (PMC) in 2008, working in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first time he ever shot somebody, and knew about it, “was as a PMC. The firefights were a lot closer, a lot more personal.” It was also more dangerous. As a soldier, he had once come under fire for seven hours in Baghdad, but as a PMC, “I would say it was worse. When you’re in the army, you’ve got an army behind you. As a PMC, you can’t call for back-up, you can’t call fire missions in. Certainly my worst incidents were as a PMC rather than in the military.” He was shot at by snipers, survived a handful of roadside bombs and a grenade attack, and once a bullet lodged in the bulletproof glass of his vehicle, inches from his head. “There was a stage in 2009, for a period of about three months, where we were probably losing guys every second or third day. It was violent, and emotionally difficult.” Continue reading
Published on February 5th, 2016 | by David Isenberg
The private military and security contracting (PMSC) industry has long claimed, not without some justification, that all the publicity about private security contractors—that is, guys carrying guns—overshadows and unfairly tars the work of reconstruction. This latter subcategory of unarmed contractors, much larger in terms of the number of people and contract value, is engaged in the far more prosaic but critically important work of rebuilding shattered infrastructure and restoring or creating the economic and social structures to enable a war torn country to rebuild and develop itself.
The international stability operations of the PMSC are considered so vital that they have required several U.S. oversight bodies over the years, such as the Commission on Wartime Contracting, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
Yet the IDC (international development contractor) sector is closely connected to the PSC (private security contractor) sector and shares the same neoliberal organizing principles. In fact, in a twist on President Eisenhower’s prescient warning about the military industrial complex, we now have a Development Industrial Complex (DIC). Continue reading