The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order
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It was 2004, and Sean McFate had a mission in Burundi: to keep the president alive and prevent the country from spiraling into genocide, without anyone knowing that the United States was involved. The United States was, of course, involved, but only through McFate's employer, the military contractor DynCorp International. Throughout the world, similar scenarios are playing out daily. The United States can no longer go to war without contractors. Yet we don't know much about the industry's structure, its operations, or where it's heading. Typically led by ex-military men, contractor firms are by their very nature secretive. Even the U.S. government-the entity that actually pays them-knows relatively little.
In The Modern Mercenary, Sean McFate lays bare this opaque world, explaining the economic structure of the industry and showing in detail how firms operate on the ground. A former U.S. Army paratrooper and private military contractor, McFate provides an unparalleled perspective into the nuts and bolts of the industry, as well as a sobering prognosis for the future of war. While at present, the U.S. government and U.S. firms dominate the market, private military companies are emerging from other countries, and warlords and militias have restyled themselves as private security companies in places like Afghanistan and Somalia. To understand how the proliferation of private forces may influence international relations, McFate looks back to the European Middle Ages, when mercenaries were common and contract warfare the norm. He concludes that international relations in the twenty-first century may have more in common with the twelfth century than the twentieth. This "back to the future" situation, which he calls "neomedievalism," is not necessarily a negative condition, but it will produce a global system that contains rather than solves problems.
The Modern Mercenary is the first work that combines a broad-ranging theory of the phenomenon with an insider's understanding of what the world of the private military industry is actually like.
military actors. The Market for Force Revealed The organization of the industry reflects the market and how it evolved. At present, the market for force is not a free market but rather a monopsony, a market with a single buyer. The current market marker for modern force is the United States, as it has turned to the private sector in unprecedented ways to support its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While other outfits exist, such as the French Foreign Legion, they are not part of today’s market
Russell. “In Cote d’Ivoire Gbabgo Is Using Mercenaries, from Liberia, UN Says, US Unaware.” Inner City Press, December 20, 2010. Leeson, Peter T. “Better Off Stateless: Somalia before and after Government Collapse.” Journal of Comparative Economics 35, no.4 (2007): 689–710. Le Sage, Andre. Africa’s Irregular Security Threats: Challenges for US Engagement. Washington, DC: Institute for National Security Studies, 2010. ———. Stateless Justice in Somalia: Formal and Informal Rule of Law
deploying it. These different types of market actors create different kinds of marketplaces. Somalia is a free market for force, with “lone wolf” mercenaries, while Liberia is a mediated market, with the company working closely with its government client in a public-private partnership. The case studies conclude that private military actors worsen security in a free market such as Somalia but increase it in a mediated market such as Liberia and under the right market circumstances could even
some of the AFL recruiting posters was not well received by a population traumatized by child soldiers. Many asked whether the children on the posters were American, given their health. This demonstrated a lack of cultural sensitivity on the part of the campaign designers, partly because the messages were not thoroughly tested on Liberian focus groups before they went public. Similarly, the comic books received mixed reactions; they were an effective tool for illiterate audiences but repelled
and brings it into the neomedieval twenty-first century. Indeed, it could serve as the pilot for updating the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and customary international law. Even the US Navy recognizes the value of private maritime force. Rear Admiral (retired) Terence McKnight, the first commander of Combined Task Force 151, the multinational flotilla specifically dedicated to combating Somali piracy, identified the limits of state naval forces and referred to “security teams-privateers”