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Not only is the war on terror a response to the unprecedented threat posed by non-state actors such as terrorist networks; it is also a conflict characterized by a growing role of commercial actors supporting bureaucracies and military organizations by performing functions such as logistical support, armed security, intelligence and security sector reform.PMSCs’ employees, usually referred to as private military contractors, have been involved in some of the most salient and controversial episodes of the latest conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.Such episodes raised unprecedented public attention to the role of private military and security companies in today’s conflicts, triggering a heated discussion over the appropriateness of privatizing certain functions to commercial firms.The current debate, however, has not always provided an accurate picture of the role played by PMSCs in today’s conflicts.Such figures, referring to Do D workforce only, do not encompass contractors hired by other U. agencies such as State Department and USAID, composed as of 2010 by 19,310 and 35,768 contractors respectively.
As logistics is one of the four branches of military art, the privatization of support functions has played a crucial role in augmenting state force projection capabilities by acting as a force multiplier and freeing up all the available uniformed personnel for combat tasks.In Afghanistan too, civilian workforce significantly outnumbered military personnel.As of September 2009, Do D contractors amounted to 104,100 units compared to only 63,950 troops.Indeed, the withdrawal of military personnel has translated into a new spike in the ratio of contractors versus soldiers, which in December 2010 amounted to 71,143 and 47,300 respectively. A huge resort to private military contractors has also characterized the latest British operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Another indicator of the crucial role played by contractors in counterinsurgency efforts is the fact that, while not directly providing combat functions, U. contracted workforce has heavily suffered from casualties. To date, scholarly attention has almost exclusively focused on contractors hired by the U. Like the State Department and USAID, the British Foreign Office and Department for International Development have also significantly relied on private security personnel for the protection of their personnel abroad.
Ten years after the launching of a global war on terror, private military and security companies (PMSCs) have become a familiar picture in today’s strategic landscape.