Global War Machine or Mercenaries?

Where war arises, soldiers-for-hire inevitably follow. Private military and security companies are a reincarnation of a generation of private providers of physical force. These include privateers, corsairs and mercenaries. These entities operate in blurred situations where the frontiers are difficult to distinguish. This new-age security industry move large quantities of military equipment and provides services for military operations. Moreover, it recruits former soldiers as civilians to carry out defensive security.

Though recruited as civilians these individuals cannot be considered as such since they carry and use weapons, interrogate prisoners and fulfill other military functions. This only shows that they can switch to an offensive role, and this could result to violation of human rights and even destabilization of governments. They, therefore, cannot be considered soldiers under the international humanitarian law because they are not from the army and often belong to different nationalities.

Private military companies pose a threat to international human rights law and ordinary civilians. The United Nations Rights Council monitors and evaluates the effects of the activities of private companies offering military services on the enjoyment of human rights. It also prepares international principles that promote respect for human rights by these companies in their operations.

Academi or Blackwater is a private military company, which was founded in 1997. United States federal government contracted Academi's security services in Iraq. Academi has established a research and development department for the sole purpose of innovating and improving existing military technology.

Academi's purpose is to facilitate national security by enhancing its efficiency and equipping it adequately. It also enables proper execution of the federal government's national security obligations. This has not in any way justified the criminalization of their activities. There have been evidenced allegations of private military carelessly bringing innocent civilians to harm in the accomplishment of their assignments.

It has been alleged that private mercenaries have tortured, both physically and mentally, detainees and have consequently been held liable in damages for their actions. In carrying out arbitrary detentions, the detainees are subjected to intense interrogation and torture. These individuals are not given a right to a fair trial, and this is a violation of their human rights.

The hiring of private mercenaries to perform duties that are a preserve of the military aims at saving a country's own military resources. This, however, results in a great opportunity cost. A country's morality with regard to respect for human rights is questioned. The private military fails to achieve accountability and transparency.

Private military and security companies often put the contracted guards in dangerous situations. This makes them vulnerable to hostilities that could otherwise have been avoided by exercising necessary safety.

As mentioned earlier, Blackwater played a substantial role in the Iraqi war after being contracted by the United States government. During the war, Blackwater security staffs were involved in a significant number of shooting incidents most of which they fired first. This company provided logistics, airlift, transportation and humanitarian support during the war. However, it remains unclear if Blackwater was contracted for the Iraqi war to capture/kill Al Qaeda operatives or just to help with monitoring and training in the program.

These facts on private military point to more cons than pros on the use of private military as war machines. Despite this, it is highly unlikely that Academi will not be contracted to provide its services in future warfare that may arise in the Middle East. This is probably because the U.S. federal government is blinded by the results it seeks, rather than the morality behind which these results are attained. Therefore, future involvement is almost certain.