Journal of Military Ethics
Should Private Security Companies be Employed for Counterinsurgency Operations?
David M. Barnesa*
Many of the reasons offered for outsourcing security involve costs and benefits – a consequentialist way of reasoning. Thus, I will explore a consequentialist argument against the use of private security contractors (PSCs) in counterinsurgencies. Discussing the benefits and costs of employing PSCs in these kinds of operations will demonstrate that the hiring of PSCs in many cases (perhaps in most) is consequentially unsound. More precisely, the overall negative consequences of hiring PSCs during counterinsurgencies should preclude their use unless in extreme emergencies. Defenders of the use of PSCs readily point to their financial benefits and expected increase in efficiency as the starting point for their argumentation. On my account, if the benefits really do outweigh the foreseeable and expected costs, then hiring PSCs may, in that case, be a morally viable option. However, I contend that, unless we institute broad contractual control and oversight reform, unless we truly understand the costs and benefits, we should have a standing, prima facie prohibition against employing PSCs in counterinsurgencies.