What is the future role of private security in addressing the terrorism threat?
There has been a lot written about the role of private security in international relations since the invasion of Iraqin 2003. [ Much of it is emotional outpouring that either demonises the private security industry or represents it as a silver bullet that can transform humanitarian interventions. What such work invariably lacks is a critical assessment of the potential utility offered by
private security companies (PSC) in expeditionary warfare. It is impossible to do justice to the topic in a short piece such as this, especially given its controversial nature. However, the author will attempt to do his best; if only in outlining some of the major themes that governments and international organisations will need to address in the coming years concerning PSCs and international security.
There is nothing new about the use of private actors in war. They have been a significant player in warfare throughout the ages. Indeed, only over the last 150 years has the state managed to maintain some type of monopoly over violence. Even so, since the end of the Cold War the market has gradually eroded that monopoly. At the start of the 21st Century, private actors are once more an important feature on the battlefield. As armies have become more specialised they have outsourced more mission tasks to the private sector, while the complex nature of expeditionary warfare has left governments with few alternatives to harnessing the capabilities of the market. States’ institutions are no longer able to cope with the range of tasks associated with humanitarian intervention. Rather a new set of institutional arrangements has gradually emerged to manage complex humanitarian interventions, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations, international organisations and the private sector. Importantly, new ways have had to be found to project power through networks that are non-territorial and transcend the public-private divide. ]
There are no new answers.