The rise and consequences of PMCs


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Contributed image

War is now more than a confrontational affair of nationalities: war has become a business.

In the last decade since the 2003 Iraq War, there has been an enormous growth in private militarized contractors — “companies,” consisting of mostly ex-military veterans, who are hired by the government to execute operations away from military soldiers under oath.

The industry is relied on for roles that have traditionally been performed by national security branches.

Instead of governments having to call home to the parents and loved ones of fallen soldiers to tell them their son, daughter, husband or wife won’t be coming back alive, they prefer hiring private “armies” to do the dirty work they don’t have to take responsibility for.

It’s similar to saying, “take our money, get it done — but leave us the hell out of it.”

After throwing a massive party at my house a few weekends ago, the house looked worse than a farm field of cow manure and urine.

Our floors were hidden by mud from the backyard, our furniture was covered in red cups, our walls were re-painted with spilled beer and each of our washrooms was drenched in the acidic reek of splattered vomit — it wasn’t pretty.

Waking up in this mess, my roommates and I were contemplating two options: suck it up and clean, or pay for a cleaning service to do it for us while we all go for breakfast to treat our throbbing hangovers. Breakfast tasted great.

Today, with more than 30 per cent of the American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan being private militarized contractors, their government is doing exactly that: hiring others to clean their mess.

Only they’re not walking away from some cups left on their front yard; they’re walking away from life-threatening political circumstances, leaving servicing American men to gamble with their lives at the simple cost of some extra cash in their pockets.

According to a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, contractors make up 29 per cent of the workforce in the United States Intelligence Community.

In 2003, for every ten U.S. Military Service Members, there was one PMC in Iraq. By 2007, also in Iraq, there were more contractors than actual U.S. Military.

Currently, the business is so strong that the global market for security services is projected to reach $218 billion after 2014.

Shortly after handing over the cash to the cleaning service the morning after the party, my roommates and I made sure to lock all our bedroom doors — just to be sure nothing would be taken when we were gone.

After all, how can we trust a bunch of strangers when we aren’t there to see them work their magic?

Therein lies the problem. Governments are paying ex-soldiers to clean messes in unseen settings.

As more wars are fought through the extension of PMC, national control can ultimately diminish — after all, who knows what these men are doing to get the job done when they aren’t being seen doing it?

Military service has always been about more than payment.

It’s been about the pride and honour of serving your country — not to mention the camaraderie of fellow soldiers in battle.

If these contractors would rather take a different route for the extra dough, who’s to say they won’t be more loyal to the guys paying them the bigger buck? After all, to them, it’s just business.

These paid mercenaries are walking in with guns pointed, ready to fire at all costs.

They operate within the shadows, away from national accountability and transparency.

Moral compasses could be adjusted. And when the control of war is no longer in the hands of the country fighting it, then who knows what decisions could be made with outrageous impacts on the political world.

It is my hope that PMCs will be more monitored and accounted for, in an effort to maintain the strong unity of Americans and Canadians in the frontiers of war.

After all, whether it’s the aftermath of a big college party or political controversy overseas, every mess must be cleaned.

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