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.
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"Provides a thoughtful, engaging critique of the U.S. government's growing dependence on private companies to wage war. Mercenaries in the employ of the Pentagon have made news with every new controversy in Iraq, from the ambush that sparked the siege of Fallujah to the prisoner abuses in Abu Ghraib prison and the raid on Ahmed Chalabi's offices. The involvement of those for-profit fighters has inspired plenty of political vitriol, much of it directed at Halliburton, Vice-President Dick Cheney's former employer. But there are some less-well-known players here, too: DynCorp, MPRI, and ICI Oregon, which do everything from database work to intelligence-gathering."—Business Week, 28 June 2004
"The creeping military-industrial complex about which President Dwight Eisenhower warned us five decades ago has reached critical mass. In fact, P. W. Singer, a security analyst at the Brookings Institution, suggests that Ike would be flabbergasted by the recent proliferation of privatized military firms and their influence on public policy both here and abroad. Calling them the corporate evolution of old-fashioned mercenaries, Singer's illuminating new book, says they provide the service side of war rather than weapons."—Christian Science Monitor, 14 August 2003
"The first notable book on the subject."—The Financial Times, 11 August 2003
"Large-scale wars may still be the sole provenance of sovereign governments, but many countries are now quietly outsourcing smaller-scale functions to privatized military firms (PMFs), which do not carry the same political weight as national troops. These firms might build camps, provide supplies, or furnish combat troops, technical assistance, or expert consultants for training programs. This is a new area for policymakers to debate and scholars to explore. . . . This portrait of the military services industry is well documented with many footnotes and a lengthy bibliography."—Library Journal, July 2003
"Provides a sweeping survey of the work of MPRI, Airscan, Dyncorp, Brown and Root, and scores of other firms that can variously put troops in the field, build and run military bases, train guerrilla forces, conduct air surveillance, mount coups, stave off coups, and put back together the countries that wars have just destroyed."—The Atlantic Monthly, October 2003
"After reading this book, it is impossible to see the landscape of insurgencies, civil wars, and inter-state wars the same way again. Peter Singer's book is a rare find: a study of the breakdown of the state monopoly on war that challenges basic assumptions in international relations theory; an exploration of the many different ways in which privatized military firms pose both problems and opportunities for policymakers; and a fascinating read for anyone interested in the changing nature of both international security and international politics."—Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
"A must read for anyone interested in the art of war, Corporate Warriors is a fascinating analysis of a new, often secretive, global industry. Marked by impressive research, this path-breaking study describes a pattern of increasing reliance on private military firms by individuals, corporations, humanitarian groups, governments, and international organizations. This is a masterful book that will appeal to students, scholars, policymakers, and lay readers alike."—Stephanie G. Neuman, Director of the Comparative Defense Studies Program, Columbia University