Secrets of modern mercenaries: Inside the rise of private armies

Sunday, Jan 25, 2015 02:00 PM EST

Secrets of modern mercenaries: Inside the rise of private armies

We don’t know all the details about the opaque world of military contractors. An expert lays out the real story

Sean McFate

Secrets of modern mercenaries: Inside the rise of private armies (Credit: Vartanov Anatoly via Shutterstock/Salon)

Excerpted from “The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean For World Order”

The market economy as such does not respect political frontiers. Its field is the world.
—Ludwig Edler von Mises

The private military industry has surged since the end of the Cold War and is now a multibillion-dollar business. Today’s military firms are sophisticated multinational corporations with subsidiaries around the world and quarterly profit reports for investors. These companies are bought and sold on Wall Street, and their stocks are listed on the London and New York exchanges. Their boards consist of Wall Street magnates and former generals, their corporate managers are seasoned Fortune 500 executives, and their ranks filled with ex-military and law-enforcement personnel recruited from around the world. They work for governments, the private sector, and humanitarian organizations. The industry even has its own trade associations: the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) in Washington, D.C., the British Association of Private Security Companies in London, and the Private Security Company Association of Iraq. Continue reading

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Africa Check: Does South Africa have the largest security industry in the world?

Africa Check: Does South Africa have the largest security industry in the world?

  • AFRICA CHECK
  • South Africa
africa-check-private-security.jpg

Which country has the largest private security industry in the world? South Africa ranks high, according to available data, but doesn’t bag the top spot.  Researched by Kate Wilkinson for AFRICA CHECK.

This article was first published by Africa Check, a non-profit fact-checking organisation (@AfricaCheck)

South Africa’s suburbs and business are wired with alarms and surrounded by high walls, barbed wire, electric fences and motion sensors. Big dogs with big teeth bark at strangers from behind steel gates. Gun-toting private security guards patrol the streets. The high levels of security are the first thing that many visitors to the country remark on.

But does South Africa really have the largest private security industry in the world as is so often claimed in dinner table conversation? Continue reading

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Free Market Justice: Do the Police Need Competition?

Free Market Justice: Do the Police Need Competition?

Police stand guard before the mandatory midnight curfew on August 16, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The curfew was imposed on Saturday in an attempt to reign in the violence that has erupted nearly every night in the suburban St. Louis town since the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Recent incidents, such as the Michael Brown and Eric Garner case, have focused attention on the inefficiency and prejudices of law enforcement agencies. In response, a number of commentators have termed this a libertarian moment and made a case for services that compete with police.

The economic case for competition is a sound one: The police department, much like the rest of the government, is a monopoly. There is no competition and, therefore, the law enforcement department lacks incentive to improve performance or services. Unshackling the police force’s monopoly will spur competition and, consequently, better services for customers.

This has been the case in other industries, which have benefited from privatization. For example, privatization of intercity travel has resulted in multiple competing services for customers. Customers willing to pay a premium have the option of numerous luxury and economy choices.  Then there is Greyhound, which has the oldest and most extensive intercity network. Continue reading

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Profit and Loss in Somalia

Profit and Loss in Somalia

Profit and Loss in Somalia

It was lunchtime on Christmas Day in Mogadishu, and Brett Fredricks was doing what he loved. The retired member of the Army’s famed and secretive Delta Force was huddling with Ugandan soldiers planning an assault on an enemy position during a firefight with al-Shabab guerrillas. But this gunbattle was different. It was taking place inside the international force’s heavily secured base at Mogadishu airport. It would also be one of the final moments of Brett Fredricks’s life. Continue reading

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PSCs and Use of Force

Director, Armed Contingency Contractor Policies and Programs at US Department of Defense

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Five Private Prison Corporations You’ve Never Heard Of Are Making Millions From Mass Incarceration

Five Private Prison Corporations You’ve Never Heard Of Are Making Millions From Mass Incarceration

California PrisonsIn this photo taken Wednesday, April 30, 2013, inmates from the Washington Ridge Conservation Camp private prison practice creating a fire line during a readiness exercise near Garden Valley, Calif.  Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Likely the most well-known prison profiteers in the United States are the Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group. Between them, these two firms pulled in about $3.3 billion last year running scores of private prisons and immigration detention centers.

However, these two firms are not alone feasting at the trough of corrections expenditure. Many other companies, most of them off the popular radar, are also benefiting from epidemic prison and jail building. Some may even be even operating in your neighborhood. Here we’ll do a quick sketch of five such companies, outline their activities, ponder their deeds of infamy, and reflect a little on how to curtail their profiteering. Continue reading

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Najlaa Chicken Pox Report, November 12, 2008

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Najlaa Cure Notice – Mobilization Deficiencies (F1, F2, and F3), November 24, 2008

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Najlaa Cure Notice Labor Facilities R3, December 2, 2008

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Najlaa Letter of Concern, September 19, 2008

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