A private military company or private military corporation (PMC), also known as a private military security company (PMSC) or private force (PF), is a non-state organization composed of professional soldiers, which provides various military services in exchange for monetary or material compensation. PMCs consisting of a singular member or individual members of a PMC are referred to as private military contractors.
PMCs not only directly participate in battle, they also undertake a large variety of other military responsibilities, such as logistics, maintenance, and transport operations, acting as strategic and tactical advisers, and overseeing the training and education of local military assets. In order to comply with international laws, the position of PMCs is described as being different to that of mercenaries, and the term is often avoided due to the stigma associated with it. The hiring of mercenaries is a common practice in the history of armed conflict. They are also sometimes referred to as an "Army without a country, " in reference to the fact that they don't answer to one nation. They can also be used to field test several in-development weapons when the military itself is constrained from doing so on their own terms.
Nonetheless, PMCs do have their limits, however: PMCs cannot directly use state-of-the-art military-grade systems (for example, military-grade aircraft drones), especially on American soil, although they can get them launched by the military provided they possessed the right connections. In addition, PMCs are also required by law to have their contractors be fully informed about having to die in battle, including if the method of death was a built-in self-destruct device that activated when falling in battle.
The concept of a PMC market originated around the early 1970s, with Big Boss's development of Militaires Sans Frontières in 1972. Kazuhira Miller, MSF's subcommander, viewed the MSF in 1974 as being neither a mercenary group nor a foreign legion, but a new kind of business, and wanted to ensure that Big Boss's views on MSF were expanded upon in every way possible.
The PMC market was expanded upon by 1984, where they at the time were referred to as Private Forces. Ironically, a large part of their expansion and spread was the direct result of MSF's destruction by XOF nine years earlier.
The modern PMC market developed with the end of the Cold War era, when a number of factors coincided to facilitate its rapid growth. With the end of the fifty-year standoff between the U.S. and the USSR, conflict became more diffuse and disordered. Many of the economic and social tensions that were exploited to fuel Cold War competition in parts of the Third World remained acute. Many postcolonial client states of the two superpowers collapsed into internal conflict with the absence of their former backers, especially in Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The breakdown of state control in a number of areas produced new civil and ethnic conflicts. This caused an increase of small-scale conflicts all around the world.
The collapse of state institutions weakened their powers relative to non-state actors, "pav[ing] the way for ethnic mobilization, transnational criminal activity, warlords, rebels, and paramilitaries." Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and multinational corporations (MNCs) who sought to operate in these areas could not rely on the weakened state apparatus to protect their operations, encouraging them to look to other sources for localized protection and order.
The large-scale decommissioning of forces at the end of the Cold War, as was the case in past conflicts, produced a global pool of newly unemployed individuals whose careers during the Cold War left them with a predominantly military-oriented skillset. One estimate puts this worldwide number at approximately seven million soldiers; in the former Soviet bloc and South Africa, entire units were dismissed from duty, including elite special forces, and the U.S. military shrank by a third from its wartime peak. This new pool of military human capital was complemented by the large-scale post-Cold War sale of surplus arms and materials, particularly in Russia and Eastern Europe. The growth in the global arms trade drove down prices on small arms — and even heavy weaponry — and made the instruments of warfare readily accessible to non-state actors.
PMCs predominantly operate in three battlespace zones: front-line command and combat operations; training and advisory programs; and logistical support services. It is considered more cost effective to contract PMCs than to increase national military budgets maintaining a national army, since it doesn't require spending on logistics, maintenance or buying state of the art weapons. Another advantage is that the PMC personnel that die in combat is not considered KIA, and thus are largely ignored by the public and the news media.
The war economy
PMC effects on the world as of the War Economy.
As a result, PMC-spawned "surrogate wars" spread across the world since the end of the 20th century. Also known as the 21st century's "surrogate Cold War, " the increase of regional conflict and demand for PMCs helped companies rake in a fortune and gradually increase their military power, while an exodus of retired soldiers infused them with years of experience. It is said that there were over 20, 000 PMC personnel and over 60 PMC firms operating in Iraq as of the summer of 2004.