Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry

Overview

Some have claimed that "War is too important to be left to the generals," but P. W. Singer asks "What about the business executives?" Breaking out of the guns-for-hire mold of traditional mercenaries, corporations now sell skills and services that until recently only state militaries possessed. Their products range from trained commando teams to strategic advice from generals. This new "Privatized Military Industry" encompasses hundreds of companies, thousands of employees, and billions of dollars in revenue. ...

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Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, Updated Edition

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Overview

Some have claimed that "War is too important to be left to the generals," but P. W. Singer asks "What about the business executives?" Breaking out of the guns-for-hire mold of traditional mercenaries, corporations now sell skills and services that until recently only state militaries possessed. Their products range from trained commando teams to strategic advice from generals. This new "Privatized Military Industry" encompasses hundreds of companies, thousands of employees, and billions of dollars in revenue. Whether as proxies or suppliers, such firms have participated in wars in Africa, Asia, the Balkans, and Latin America. More recently, they have become a key element in U.S. military operations. Private corporations working for profit now sway the course of national and international conflict, but the consequences have been little explored.

In Corporate Warriors, Singer provides the first account of the military services industry and its broader implications. Corporate Warriors includes a description of how the business works, as well as portraits of each of the basic types of companies: military providers that offer troops for tactical operations; military consultants that supply expert advice and training; and military support companies that sell logistics, intelligence, and engineering.

This updated edition of Singer's already classic account of the military services industry and its broader implications describes the continuing importance of that industry in the Iraq War. This conflict has amply borne out Singer's argument that the privatization of warfare allows startling new capabilities and efficiencies in the ways that war is carried out. At the same time, however, Singer finds that the introduction of the profit motive onto the battlefield raises troubling questions—for democracy, for ethics, for management, for human rights, and for national security.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

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. (July) Forecast: A long New York Times piece last October detailed the recent exploits of corporate forces, but didn't get much play in the run-up to war. Look for corporate forces to be a topic of discussion when "peacekeeping" becomes an issue in Iraq and elsewhere. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
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. Singer, a security analyst at the Brookings Institution, does not offer a history of these firms but instead attempts to integrate the available information so that theories may be formed to guide future research and decisions. In addition, he provides valuable appendixes, the first listing PMFs and their web addresses and the second providing the text of an actual government contract with a PMF. This portrait of the military services industry is well documented with many footnotes and a lengthy bibliography. Suitable for academic and specialized collections. (Index not seen.)-Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801474361
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2007
  • Series: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs Series
  • Edition description: Updated Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 412,281
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Table of Contents

PART I. THE RISE
1. An Era of Corporate Warriors?
2. Privatized Military History
3. The Privatized Military Industry Distinguished
4. Why Security Has Been Privatized

PART II. ORGANIZATION AND OPERATION
5. The Global Industry of Military Services
6. The Privatized Military Industry Classified
7. The Military Provider Firm: Executive Outcomes
8. The Military Consultant Firm: MPRI
9. The Military Support Firm: Brown & Root

PART III. IMPLICATIONS
10. Contractual Dilemmas
11. Market Dynamism and Global Disruptions
12. Private Firms and the Civil-Military Balance
13. Public Ends, Private Military Means?
14. Morality and the Privatized Military Firm
15. Conclusions

POSTSCRIPT
The Lessons of Iraq
Appendix I. PMFs on the Web
Appendix 2. PMF Contract

Notes
Bibliography
Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The End of the Nation-State?

    This a fantastic book for anyone interested in the forces that shape global politics and those interested in unique new business. Singer, through rigorous research and superb organization, describes the private military industry in great detail and classifies different companies based on the products they provide. Singer's writing is engaging and thought provoking, providing historical detail that takes the reader to Sierra Leone, the Balkans among other places in order to better describe this growing industry. Throughout the book, Singer focuses on what the rise of the private military industry might mean to the way states are organized and how their authority is expressed. Singer's writing is no way biased for or against this new industry as many are in popular press and elsewhere. Instead, Singer approaches this subject clinically; describing, analyzing and illuminating trends that may come into conflict with current views as to who has the legitimacy in the use of force and its effect on civil-military relations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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