Private military chumps

8 March 2007

by Johannes Koch

And the question over private military/security services/corporations/companies (PMC/PSC) - in short, 'mercenaries'- rages on! In today's news "US Contract for Somali Peace2,The Times relegates this issue to a 3x6 cm2 box, somewhere in their print version. I went online to find some more (nothing specifically on Timesonline, check my search here).

"The State Department has hired a major military contractor to help equip and provide logistical support to international peacekeepers in Somalia, giving the United States a significant role in the critical mission without assigning combat forces." Corp Watch

I think this was lifted by the Times almost word for word. The military contractor herein referred to is Dyncorp.

Anyway, should governments be allowed to conduct military operations through private corporations? Maybe the UN should start contracting PMCs to do their bidding? Can PMCs get the job done faster and cheaper than the UN and its member states? Do 'mercenaries' cancel the need for public scrutiny? Under whose jurisdiction are these guys?

When is a PMC actually involved in a combat and when is it merely a support mechanism? I'm just trying to draw the line between training up forces and combat strategy and physically participating in combat. Where do you draw the line? Is it really a question of semantics or, do we just say that any involvement which doesn't involve those contracted firing a gun is legitimate?

It seems that the debates surrounding this issue are far from being resolved. PMCs have, however, become a bleeding reality so far from public scrutiny that it worries me.

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