Global Policy Forum

PMSCs in Afghanistan/Pakistan

Picture Credit: Herald Scotland


2012 | 2010 | 2009 | 2007


Warlords, Inc.  (November 13, 2012)

The recent international boom of the private military and security industry is in great part the result of thirteen years of war conducted by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Isenberg recalls that “the PSC industry in Afghanistan is enormously powerful, having grown from nothing to immense in a decade of war that the invaders wanted to wage with as few uniformed troops as possible.” Hence, contrary to foreign forces in Iraq, private guards operating in the country are “overwhelmingly Afghan.” Before leaving the country by 2014, ISAF will have to transfer PMSC operations to the newly created Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF). There is no doubt that the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) of such important and suddenly-unemployed armed force will be a major challenge threatening the viability of the post-invasion “nation-building” strategy. (Time)

Contractors in War Zones: Not Exactly "Contracting" (October 9, 2012)

As US troops will soon be out of Iraq and Afghanistan, foreign military presence will remain part of the reality of these two countries through private military and security companies.  As of today, “there are more contractors than U.S. troops in Afghanistan”. In fact, the Pentagon employs approximately 137,000 private contractors in 20 countries around the world. In this article, David Isenberg presents “how dependent on them the Pentagon has become”. Not only are those mercenaries less accountable and prone to misconduct than regular military forces, but they will perpetuate conflict dynamics outside of the view of Western publics and democratic control. (Time)

A Humanitarian Perspective on the Privatization of Warfare (September 14, 2012)

Private Military and Security Companies have been in the limelight recently for the excessive use of force resulting in civilian casualties. Their activities extend from monitoring detention facilities in conflict-zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, to anti-piracy operations on the high seas. This privatization of warfare is accompanied by a lack of accountability. The ICRC looks to International Humanitarian Law to address this problem. PMSCs act outside the military chain of command and are often exempt from the laws of the contracting states. In regard, the ICRC highlights the existing Montreaux Document of 2008, which proposes accountability guidelines as one of the possible solutions to the problem of PMSCs. (ICRC)

Pakistan in the Wake of Bin Laden: Private Security Companies Constitute a “State within a State” (April 13, 2012)

This article examines the role of private security companies in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation trying to secure its regional position against India and Afghanistan. It has become dependent on US money, and has transformed into a quasi-police state backed by private military companies. Since 9/11, elite private military companies, like G4S, have gotten rich from political instability in Pakistan, even though the Pakistani constitution prohibits private armies. Threats of death have deterred journalists in Pakistan from reporting on this troubling collusion. (Crikey)

Confessions of a Recovering Weapons Addict (January 24, 2012)

In 2010, the US sold weapons to 62 countries from Afghanistan to Yemen. In 2011, the Obama administration planned to sell nearly $11 billion in weapons to Iraq. Few senators opposed the deal because many private weapons-makers provide jobs in their districts, as well as donations to their campaigns. William Astore, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, refers to the US as “Weapons ‘R’ US”. He writes, “We sell weapons the way teenage punks sell fireworks to younger kids: for profit and with little regard for how they might be used.” The US and its military-industrial complex are making morally questionable corporations like Lockheed Martin, KBR, and General Dynamics rich. (Guernica)


Pentagon Seeks Private Contractor to Move Weapons Through Pakistan/ Afghanistan(May 25, 2010)

The official policy stance of both the United States and the Pakistan government is that the US military does not conduct military operations on Pakistani territory. To circumvent this limitation, the US military has released a contract solicitation notice seeking bids for private war contractors to transport military equipment through Pakistan into Afghanistan. The notice also includes "risk assessment" - essentially spying and intelligence - as one of the tasks required of the contractor. The list of interested vendors presently includes Pakistani firms such as Kestral Logistics, which have close ties with Blackwater. By hiring private local firms to carry out its actions, the US military will be able to obscure the real actor in the situation and avoid accountability in the future.

US is still using Private Spy Ring, Despite Doubts (May 15, 2010)

Despite concerns about the legality of using private contractors to "collect information," US military officials have continued to rely on a "secret network of private spies," who have produced hundreds of reports from Afghanistan and Pakistan.  These "reports" are submitted daily to top commanders and have become an "important source of intelligence." The role of private contractors in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan has raised questions about whether the US has outsourced some of its most secretive and important operations to a private army which is largely unaccountable.

Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants (March 14, 2010)

US Defense Department official Michael D. Furlong is under criminal investigation for hiring private security companies in Afghanistan and Pakistan to gather intelligence on alleged militants. The information gathered by these private security companies, which employ former CIA and Special Forces operatives, was sent to US military units and intelligence officials and possibly used in lethal combat. It is illegal for the US to hire private contractors to act as "covert spies" in Pakistan and there is concern by the US that the actions of Furlong will be viewed by the Pakistani government as an "attempt to get around the prohibition of US military personnel operating in the country.

As Afghanistan Contracting Surges, Who's Following the Money? (March 4, 2010)

The US has allocated $51 billion in the previous eight years to "rebuild" and "stabilize" Afghanistan. However, the contracting process is susceptible to serious duplication of effort, abuse and fraud. With an estimated 56,000 more contractors expected in Afghanistan by the end of 2010, it is likely that the waste and corruption will continue to grow. The major US government departments are predictably failing in their oversight and federal auditors cannot accurately determine if reconstruction money is being used appropriately.


Blackwater Guards Tied to CIA Raids (December 10, 2009)

Blackwater participated in CIA raids of suspected insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, also helping in the transportation of detainees. Blackwater guards played a central role in these rapidly routine "snatch and grab" operations, and the line between CIA, the military and Blackwater became blurred. These revelations highlight the deep ties between Blackwater and the CIA.

How Many Private Contractors are There in Afghanistan? Military Gives Us a Number (December 2, 2009)

US President Barack Obama failed to make any mention to US contractors in Afghanistan during his escalation speech. His silence, replicated by much of the US media, conceals the true extent of US presence in Afghanistan. The size of the contracting force - which already poses great problems of accountability and transparency - has been given at 104, 100 and will grow further in the near future.

Sometimes It’s Not Your War, But You Sacrifice Anyway (August 17, 2009)

In an attempt to “outsource” the Iraq and Afghanistan war, the US is increasingly hiring the cheapest labor possible. This Washington Post article reports that two-thirds of the 200,000 civilians working in the war zones are foreigners, often coming from many poor countries. Under the Defense Base Act, all civilians workers employed abroad are required to purchase insurance to cover injuries arising from work or war, whether they are US or Foreign citizens. However, foreign civilian workers are rarely informed of this right and their care, or lack thereof, has been relegated to the large scale insurance firms that have a consistent record of denying claims from US contractors, let alone foreign contractors. (ProPublica)

Injured War Zone Contractors Fight to Get Care from AIG and Other Insurers (April 16, 2009)

1,400 Civilian workers have died and 31,000 have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. These workers are the hidden causalities of the war, the “invisible, discard able military.” These civilian workers rarely get adequate care if they are injured (if any).  Insurance companies, like AIG, have collected more than $1.5 billion in premiums paid by US taxpayers and earned more than $600 million in profits for insuring civilian workers. However,  they have rejected almost half the claims filed by contractors, forcing these injured workers to wage costly and lengthy court battles for basic medical care and benefits. (LA Times and ProPublica)


The Top 100 Private Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan (November 20, 2007)

The Center for Public Integrity says US contracts with private security companies and construction firms has increased by 50 percent annually from US$11 billion in 2004 to US$25 billion in 2006. According to the Center, the recipients of contracts worth up to US$20 billion have only been identified by the US Defense and State Departments as foreign contractors. Commentators suggest this signals the lack of accountability and oversight of government contracts. Number one on the list, construction firm, KBR won over US$16 billion in contracts from 2004 and 2006, nine times greater than that awarded to number two, private security firm, DynCorp International.

America's Own Unlawful Combatants? (October 15, 2007)

In the aftermath of the September 2007 Blackwater shootings, lawyers for the US State, Justice and Defense departments debate whether private security contractors fall under the same broad definition of "unlawful combatants" which the Bush administration uses to justify detentions in Guantanamo Bay. Legal commentators criticize the Bush administration for failing to clarify the legal status of contractors before putting them into military roles. (Los Angeles Times)


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