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Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs) Hardcover – July, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs
  • Hardcover: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801441145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801441141
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,419,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A security analyst at the Brookings Institution, Singer raises disturbing new issues in this comprehensive analysis of a post-Cold War phenomenon: private companies offering specialized military services for hire. These organizations are nothing like the mercenary formations that flourished in post-independence Africa, whose behavior there earned them the nickname les affreux: "the frightful ones." Today's corporate war-making agencies are bought and sold by Fortune 500 firms. Even some UN peacekeeping experts, Singer reports, advocate their use on grounds of economy and efficiency. Governments see in them a means of saving money-and sometimes a way to use low-profile force to solve awkward, potentially embarrassing situations that develop on the fringes of policy. Singer describes three categories of privatized military systems. "Provider firms" (the best known being the now reorganized Executive Outcomes) offer direct, tactical military assistance ranging from training programs and staff services to front-line combat. "Consulting firms," like the U.S.-based Military Professional Resources Inc., draw primarily on retired senior officers to provide strategic and administrative expertise on a contract basis. The ties of such groups to their country of origin, Singer finds, can be expected to weaken as markets become more cosmopolitan. Finally, the overlooked "support firms," like Brown & Root, provide logistic and maintenance services to armed forces preferring (or constrained by budgetary factors) to concentrate their own energies on combat. Singer takes pains to establish the improvements in capability and effectiveness privatization allows, ranging from saving money to reducing human suffering by ending small-scale conflicts. He is, however, far more concerned with privatization's negative implications. Technical issues, like contract problems, may lead to an operation ending without regard to a military rationale. A much bigger problem is the risk of states losing control of military policy to militaries outside the state systems, responsible only to their clients, managers, and stockholders, Singer emphasizes. So far, private military organizations have behaved cautiously, but there is no guarantee will continue. Nor can the moralities of business firms be necessarily expected to accommodate such niceties as the laws of war. Singer recommends increased oversight as a first step in regulation, an eminently reasonable response to a still imperfectly understood development in war making.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

". . . .[T]he first notable book on the subject." -- The Financial Times, August 11, 2003

"The creeping military-industrial complex about which President Dwight Eisenhower warned us five decades ago has reached critical mass. . . .[I]lluminating." -- Christian Science Monitor, August 14, 2003

"This is a new area for policymakers to debate and scholars to explore." -- Library Journal, July 2003

"[P]rovides a sweeping survey of the work of MPRI, Airscan, Dyncorp, Brown & Root, and scores of other firms..." -- The Atlantic Monthly, October 2003

More About the Author

Hi! My formal biography and links to all my books and articles are at www.pwsinger.com but the short version is that I am someone who loves to read, and hopes to write books that people love to read too.
You can also follow me on twitter @peterwsinger

Customer Reviews

His writing is well organized and incisive with very astute observations.
S. McCallum
Singer also provides company profiles, and covers the international/global aspects of the industry and its development.
A. Halpin
This book will open your eyes and allow you to see what this world is coming to.
pojo440

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Poirier on May 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
Throughout history, private interests have performed military duties and always proved a critical political factor. Celts and Germans worked in the Roman Emperor's personal Praetorian Guard, King Edward I employed professional companies of archers, and the Swiss fought all over Europe, and are still guarding the Vatican. It's only in the 19th and 20th centuries that the state has become the sole legitimate agent in the conduct of military operations. The 1990s, however, have witnessed the emergence of private organized interests at every level of military operations. The twist comes because today these private military firms (PMFs) are organized as twenty first century corporations, with business plans and long term profit objectives.

Singer's analysis begins with an account of private military interests in ancient and modern times. This gets us used to the idea that PMFs have been around before and are really nothing new. In the second section, Singer classifies PMFs in three segments, each characterized by how far its activities are from actual fighting. First and most obvious there are the military provider firms that place frontline military units (e.g. Executive Outcomes) second there are the consulting firms who train and shape a client's military (e.g. Military Professional Resources Inc.) and third there are the firms that provide logistical and support services such as food delivery (e.g. Brown and Root).

Lastly, Singer examines the implications of using PMFs, which of course being corporations are motivated by profit. Singer illustrates how seemingly simple precepts result in fiendishly complex moral problems.

Do we feel uneasy at for-profit military firms? Of course we do and so we are tempted to dismiss any question of using them.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A. Sandoc on February 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
P.W. Singer has written a very insightful and detailed look into the modernization and globalization of the private military firms. The private military firm is not a new concept but actually dates back thousands of years. These firms are better known under the more controversial name: mercenaries.

It'd be unfair to say that all private military firms are like the mercenary companies of old. Sure there are still flight-by-night firms that hire themselves out to the highest bidder, switching allegiances on a dime, and committing acts of brutality that made them so infamous during the African civil war and wars of liberation in the late 1950's and through most of the 1960's. The modern private military firm as described by Singer has more in common with corporations that deal in outsourcing specific jobs.

Corporate Warriors goes through in describing the many different types of firms. From the provider firms like Executive Outcomes (a famous early 90's firm created by former South African military operatives) which take a fron-line role in training, advising and fighting for their clients. Then there's firms like the US-based MPR who provide military assistance in the form of advisors that range from ex-generals to former veteren noncoms. The third type would be firms like Halliburton who provide non-combat services (mess hall, laundry, logistics, etc...) for the US Military and its allies.

What all these types of private military firms have in common is in the way they are run. These firms are run like Fortune 500 firms and alot of the companies in the Fortune 500 make use of these firms' services. Whether for help in negotiating with the governments of third world nations to security detail for corporate officers.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By W. Clifton Holmes on June 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Singer's categorizations of military assistance organizations confer clarity in a fragmented, heterogenous field of activity. When one thinks of quintessential 'government-provided' services, one thinks of education, prisons, policing, and the military. While privatization in the first three such areas has been studied extensively, Singer has provided here an essential overview and analysis of how privatization has unfolded, to a much greater extent than we may realize, in the military sphere. 5 stars- as readable as it is insightful.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Restorm on September 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most folks will automatically assume this is a book about the latest generation of mercenaries. While that's certainly an aspect of this industry, there's a far more surprising side to this story: Their role in the restoration of peace, and in the reconstruction of wartorn countries.
Thus, private military firms (PMF's) are actually one of the 8 sectors of restorative development, often referred to as the global "restoration economy", which currently accounts for about $2 trillion annually. [Restorative development is defined as "socioeconomic revitalization based on restoration of the natural and built environments".]
This shouldn't be so surprising, given that most of them come from engineering or construction roots. But, why the dichotomy of good and evil? It's simple, really:
When PMF's are used to advance "new development" (such as exploiting someone else's natural resources, which often requires a "regime change"), they are often operating on "the dark side". When they are advancing "restorative development", they are usually the "good guys". The same dynamic can be found in the ordinary (non-PMF) civil engineering community.
Corporate Warriors does a wonderful job of documenting this fast-growing, highly profitable "ancient" industry, which is experiencing a rebirth as a major global force after 3 centuries of slumber.
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