This is one of the evidences that humanity has come across a new social phenomenon. During the existence of national states in Europe (the last 300 – 400 years), governments have completely monopolized the military field. In other areas of the state - tax collection, mail, pension and medical care, the prison and correctional system - private enterprises were periodically allowed, but military affairs were always the privilege of the state. What happened at the end of the last century actually meant the privatization (so far partial) of the state’s military organization. Russian military expert Lieutenant-General Nikolai Mitrofanovich Uvarov reflects on this topic.
Excursion in history
Attracting mercenaries to participate in hostilities has a thousand-year history. Since ancient times, the rulers hired foreigners for military service. One of the first battles with the participation of mercenaries, described in the history of military art, was the battle of Kadeshi between Egypt and the kingdom of the Hittites (1312 BC), in which on the side of the army of Pharaoh Ramses II fought a hired division of the Nubians.
In ancient Greece, which built its military organization, mainly relying on its own citizens, the practice of attracting specialists for fortification, building bridges, building assault structures during the siege of fortresses was widespread. The army of Alexander of Macedon during his Persian campaigns consisted largely of mercenary units.
Hannibal during the Punic Wars widely attracted mercenaries to his army. Only when Rome managed to seize silver mines in Spain (the main source of currency for Carthage), was the outcome of the Roman-Carthaginian confrontation decided.
Ancient Rome, even in the period of the republic, when the army consisted only of Roman citizens, attracted units of archers, cavalry, and sappers for a fee. And to the III century AD. the army of the empire was more German than Roman in composition.
The Middle Ages are the heyday of mercenary. Since in the feudal wars there was a demand for professionally trained soldiers, then at the turn of the XIII – XIV centuries they began to unite into so-called companies and offered their services on a contract basis.
By the XIV century, the Swiss militia, armed with 6-meter peaks, began to actively offer themselves to hire to European rulers and was in great demand for several centuries. They were distinguished not only by good military training and close cohesion (as a rule, companies were formed from the same locality), but also constant support and connection with their homeland, which differed favorably from landskniechts - mercenaries from southern German lands and Austria.
By the beginning of the 17th century, the European armies almost entirely consisted of mercenary units, and each ethnic group occupied its own niche: the Albanians (as Eastern Europeans and Greeks were called then) were valued as cavalrymen, Scots and Gascons - as infantry, the Swiss had their own characteristic - peaks, Germanic landsknechts quickly retrained to the appeared light rifle weapon.
The Thirty Years' (1618 – 1648) war, which ended in the Peace of Westphalia, which marked the beginning of the creation of sovereign nation states, was a turning point in the history of mercenarism. From this point on, governments take control of all aspects of the state’s military organization. The process is not fast, by the beginning of the Napoleonic wars hired armies still remained (Prussia, Austria), but in fact their role had already faded.
Now governments that have a strong need for a trained army were not looking for it in a free market, but turned to neighbors for help. For example, during the American war of independence, the British crown, being unable to provide the necessary number, turned first to the help of the Russian empress, but, having been refused, hired 30-thousandth army from the German principality of Hesse-Kassel.
According to historians, these Hessen mercenaries played a fatal role in defeating Britain in this war, because up to 30 percent of them deserted, believing that life in the American colonies is much preferable to life in the German principality, and the rest to serve the British showed such cruelty to to the local population that even the wavering colonists decided to support George Washington.
Separate cases of attraction for payment of military contingents of other countries were in the XIX century, but they were sporadic. For example, Britain, in preparation for the Crimean War, hired the 16-thousandth German army. But in general, the XIX century was marked by the disappearance of the phenomenon of mercenary on a massive scale.
During the development of the overseas colonies by the European powers, a new form of the use of hired military force emerged. At the same time, the Western European rulers closely cooperated with trading companies — the British East Indian, the Dutch East Indian, and the Hudson companies. They, having received a license from their government for monopoly trade in a certain geographic area, created their own militias to protect their infrastructure, expand the zone of influence, fight with competitors, suppress the resistance of the native rulers.
By the beginning of the 19th century, the British East Indian Company had an army in the amount of about 100 thousand people - more than all the land forces of the metropolis. The Dutch companies had up to 140 ships and vessels and 25-thousandth army. In essence, such companies represented the state in the state and were guided only by profit.
The world wars of the 20th century seemed to end forever with mercenarism. However, after their graduation, mass demobilization created a proposal among professional military personnel with combat experience, and they found demand. After the First World War, Russian officers were in demand in many armies - from Indochina to Paraguay, especially in the French Foreign Legion (seventy years later the situation repeated itself - mostly former soldiers and sergeants of the USSR Armed Forces began to recruit).
After the Second World War, many former Wehrmacht soldiers served in the French army in Indochina and Algeria, as well as in the armed forces of Chile and Argentina.
From here we can draw several conclusions:
- the need for mercenaries arises when the requirements for the quality of soldiers are priority in comparison with quantitative indicators;
- massive demobilization of armies in one geographic region creates conditions for the use of excess military masses in other parts of the world, sometimes artificially fueling conflicts;
- the connection between mercenary military structures and commercial organizations provides them with both military success and substantial profits;
- state monopoly on military affairs - a transient category and by historical standards rather short-term, periodically there is a process of privatization of the functions of the armed forces and transfer them to the private sector.
The end of the cold war has fundamentally changed the international security environment. The confrontation between the USA and the USSR to a certain extent restrained conflicts in the “third world”; in the new historical conditions, the existing contradictions led in many cases to open armed confrontation both at the intrastate and at the intergovernmental levels. There was a demand for military professionals.
Secondly, the massive reductions in the armies of the leading countries of the world threw hundreds of thousands of professionally trained soldiers into the labor market, ready to offer their services for a reasonable fee.
Finally, a massive injection into the world market of weapons, an enormous amount of weapons and military equipment at very low prices (the T-55 tank of the National Peoples Army of the GDR was sold for 55 thousand dollars, the AK-47 machine gun for 60 dollars) with small contingents costs to acquire the necessary weapons and military equipment.
No less important than the end of the Cold War, the reason for the privatization of military affairs was the so-called privatization revolution - a fairly stable development trend of most Western and Eastern European states. It was launched by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who announced in 1979 a long-term program for the denationalization and privatization of many state-owned enterprises, including defense ones.
This affected both the armed forces and the ministry of defense when, during their reform (reduction), a significant part of the functions were transferred to the private sector (the phenomenon of outsourcing). In this case, it was not only about certain types of logistics, technical and engineering support, but also about such a highly controversial area as R & D management. Most of the NATO countries, including the United States, and Eastern Europe subsequently followed the example of Great Britain.
New private military contractors are fundamentally different from traditional mercenaries. True, it must be admitted that there is no single generally accepted definition of mercenary.
Among the main international documents (the Geneva Convention and the Protocol to it 1949 of the year, the International Convention against the Recruitment of Mercenaries of the 1989 of the Year) we can distinguish the following signs of a mercenary: this is a foreigner who is not a citizen of the state in which he fights; he is not a member of the armed forces involved in the conflict; the only motive for his behavior is personal gain; he is invited to cooperate secretly and imported into the country secretly.
The principal difference between new military contractors and mercenaries is that the modern private sector provides military services in accordance with the norms and principles typical of commercial structures of market economy countries. Now it is legally registered commercial enterprises operating under the existing tax system. They regularly publish financial reports, license foreign contracts, etc. Private military companies operate on the open market of global services, do not hide themselves, on the contrary, advertise, including through the Internet.
Recruitment of military contractors is carried out not in secret, but openly with the involvement of personnel agencies of power structures, from where an absolute majority of employees are recruited; selected personnel are checked (including for access to secret documents, if required) and entered into the database. Their involvement in work is carried out on the basis of contracts (one-time or long-term with compulsory insurance, if work is expected in a war zone or an increased risk to life).
Most of today's successful military contractors are closely connected with large corporations and holdings, from which they have budded, as well as with government structures, primarily with the Ministry of Defense. As a result, this “duality” allows, on the one hand, to use its own corporate resources for a quick launch of the contract, not waiting for the start of funding from the Ministry of Defense, and on the other, it guarantees substantial government support, since the leaders of these companies were large government employees in the recent past military or civilian).
And finally, a common feature of almost all military contractors is the fact that they began their activities, as a rule, through contracts and the provision of services to the Ministry of Defense of their country and only then entered the international market.
The global market for services rendered by military contractors was estimated to 2001 in the year at 100 billion dollars a year. In connection with the Afghan and Iraq campaigns, it has grown to 150 – 160 billion dollars. The number of military contractors in the world is estimated at 400 – 500 firms.
By the nature of the services provided, they can be divided into the following: the organization of all types of support and combat training for the armed forces of the United States and other NATO countries - 250, consulting - 40, demining - 60.
In addition, Africa operates up to 100 military contractors of a wide variety of profiles, mainly to ensure the safety of multinational corporations that mine in conflict zones, and to protect humanitarian aid convoys sent by the UN, non-governmental organizations and foundations.
PMCs in Afghanistan and Iraq
By the middle of 2007, the involvement of private companies in supporting the daily activities of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq reached such a level that without their participation both contingents are not only able to perform combat missions, but simply cannot function as military organisms. In other words, the steady trend of 1990-ies, manifested in the privatization of a significant part of the functions of the US armed forces, has become irreversible.
Private companies not only solve a large amount of logistics, technical and engineering tasks, but are also increasingly involved in such military areas as reconnaissance, operational planning, combat training, protection and defense of garrisons and headquarters, advanced bases, ensuring the security of the highest civilian and military leadership. If during the first Gulf War (1990 – 1991), the ratio of military contractors to the total number of troops deployed in the theater was 1: 50, and by the beginning of the Afghan campaign it was 1: 10, then six years later (the beginning of 2008 d) for almost every American soldier there is one or more employees of a private company.
According to the US Congressional Supervision and Government Reform Committee, about 450 private companies with a total number of 140 – 170 thousand employees are involved in the Pentagon and the State Department in Afghanistan and Iraq. This includes 50 thousand people in all types of support for the troops, guarding military garrisons, advanced bases, providing security for the top leadership 48 – 52 thousand, restoring the infrastructure of Afghanistan and Iraq, demining the area 40 – 70 thousand people. This number does not include unskilled workers from Asian countries (Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, etc.), the number of which cannot be accurately taken into account, but according to an approximate estimate of the State Department, it amounts to a few more tens of thousands of people.
The use of military contractors over the past five years has expanded significantly and covers almost all aspects of the activities of the armed forces.
First, it is the maintenance of new weapons systems. For example, to maintain the brigade kit of the Stryker combat vehicles (around 270 units), the presence of representatives of the developer company (General Dynamics,) is required in the 150 brigade. In this regard, the US Department of Defense has included them into the “advanced support element”, which legally fixed their presence in the combat zones and obliged the commanders and chiefs to provide them with the necessary support in the deployment, protection and support.
A similar situation is characteristic of most new weapons systems and military equipment. The upgraded version of the Apache Longbow combat helicopter is serviced only by the manufacturer, the standard equipment of the army aviation are not allowed to it.
Of the 79 57 intelligence, surveillance, and identification systems used in Iraq and Afghanistan, they need to be constantly serviced by representatives of development companies. This includes the entire spectrum of unmanned aerial vehicles - from Global Hawk and Predator to Sheydow.
Secondly, all types of logistics, including food, including the preparation and distribution of food, the supply and distribution of fuel and lubricants, water purification and distribution, postal, transport, bath and laundry, storage and public services.
Thirdly, technical support, including evacuation and repair of damaged equipment, diesel generators and air conditioners, artillery maintenance, all types of information and maintenance.
Fourth, operational and combat support, including reconnaissance, operational and combat training, maintenance of modern control and communications systems, training and equipping of local armed and police formations, advisory functions.
Fifth, the protection and defense of military garrisons, forward bases, convoys with means of supply, as well as ensuring the security of American institutions in the territory of Afghanistan and Iraq, the protection of top management.
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Among the many applications of private companies to provide American groups in Afghanistan and Iraq, the field of intelligence is of particular interest, since until recently it was considered to be reliably protected from privatization attempts.
However, the situation began to change at the beginning of the XXI century. For the first time, the US intelligence community was forced to turn to military contractors in connection with the entry into service of new intelligence and surveillance systems — the Global Hawk and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles. And it was not only about their technical maintenance (pre-flight training, after-flight maintenance work), which was carried out earlier, but about the inclusion of employees of manufacturing companies in the composition of management and combat use of UAVs.
The CIA staff officer or a US military officer directs the calculation, he also gives the command to use combat weapons to destroy objects or individuals, but the rest of the crew consists mainly of representatives of UAV development companies.
With the beginning of the Afghan and then Iraq campaigns, military contractors began to be involved in solving other reconnaissance tasks. In April, 2003, the company DynCorp received a contract for 50 million dollars to collect, analyze information and assess the security situation and develop a program to create the Iraqi police.
CACI (California Analysis Center, Inc.) was engaged to collect and analyze information on the political situation in Iraq, the composition of the resistance forces, their supply bases, and the leaders. The main source of information was detained Iraqis. Employees of the company were not only involved in interrogation, but often conducted them themselves, including in the Abu Ghraib prison, and were implicated in the harassment of those arrested by Iraqis.
They were assisted by translators from Titan Translatоrs, which, along with MPRI - L3, is the main supplier of Arabic specialists, Dari, Pashto and Farsi for American intelligence agencies in military contingents in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Despite the well-known scandals associated with the activities of representatives of these companies, the experience of using them to collect and analyze information turned out to be very useful. It was not by chance that in February 2007, a well-known large security services company Blackwater announced the creation of a subsidiary called Total Intelligence Solutions, which will provide services for the collection and analysis of information in the field of internal security, terrorist threat, political instability, information and technological security. . And not only in the form of traditional reports on the situation, but also in continuous mode through the subscription site on the Internet, for which a situational center with a round-the-clock mode of operation is created.
Since in 2006 from the 800 million-dollar contract package of 120, millions of dollars came from contracts with the CIA and the Pentagon Intelligence Agency (RUMO), it can be assumed that the customers remained the same. It is noteworthy that the company was headed by C. Black, the former head of the counterterrorism center of the United States CIA, and the company’s management included former leading members of the CIA and DIA.
Another area in which the American intelligence community was forced to turn to private companies for lack of a sufficient number of its specialists was the use of the Internet to collect data on terrorist and extremist organizations.
Such services are provided by the SITE Institute (Search for International Terrorist Entities), which searches for the websites of terrorist and extremist organizations, analyzes all information relating to them, explores their connections, including commercial ones, and constantly updates its database of these organizations and their programs. , tactics of actions, managers and individuals.
In other words, SITE scans the Internet using its powerful information capabilities. The Institute provides, on a commercial basis, its information to the FBI, CIA, DIA, the US Department of Homeland Security, congressional committees, other US firms and organizations.
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The tasks of protecting senior officials and US overseas agencies, which were traditionally assigned to units of the US military from the Special Operations Forces or the Marine Corps, were also transferred to private companies. For the first time, this practice was tested in the organization of the personal protection of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
After his election as head of state, the American command allocated for its protection a unit from the composition of the Special Operations Force of the Navy in the number of 60 people. This group successfully coped with its task until in September 2002 of the year an incident occurred, during which, while suppressing the attempted assassination attempt on Karzai, two criminals and two Afghans were killed trying to take away his weapon.
The story was widely discussed in Afghanistan in a very unfavorable light for Karzai - he was presented as a puppet of Americans guarded by US military personnel. Therefore, it was decided to apply to a private company. The US company DynCorp contracted 50 employees (all former sergeants and special forces officers) to protect the president of Afghanistan, which should have created at least an appearance of Karzai’s independence from American influence.
This experience was positive. And when it became necessary to organize the protection of the head of the American administration in Iraq, Paul Bremer, it was also decided to involve Blackwater, a private company that allocated 60 employees for this, 10 off-road vehicles, three armored personnel carriers, three helicopters, a plane, two canine teams.
Subsequently, this practice was extended to guard US embassies and ambassadors in Afghanistan and Iraq, to ensure the security of delegations arriving in these countries, US government agencies and senior officials, escorting convoys and protecting important facilities. For all these purposes, contracts are concluded with private security companies in the amount of about 500 million dollars a year.
In addition, large private companies engaged in logistics, technical support for the activities of American groups or in the restoration of infrastructure, in turn, also turn to security companies to ensure the safety of their employees and protect property. According to the congressional oversight and government reform committee, only the federal budget for the Iraqi recovery program paid 12,5 percent for security (for 1 January 2007, it was almost 4 billion, and the entire security business is estimated at five to six billion dollars) .
It should be noted that private companies specializing in the provision of security services are actively expanding the range of services provided. They used Somali pirates to threaten merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden with the promotion of new services - the protection of civilian vessels, and as of the end of 2008, this market is rated as the most promising in the coming years.
The transfer of part of the military functions of the state to private hands allowed to solve some problems, but at the same time created others. The main experts include the minimum accountability of military contractors, difficulties in monitoring their activities and the practical impossibility of auditing, especially firms operating in combat zones or performing confidential government instructions.
Example: the work of MPRI in Croatia, when the UN embargo on the supply of arms and military assistance to the warring parties. MPRI bypassed the embargo under the formal pretext of teaching "the foundations of democratic control over the armed forces."
This problem is complicated by the fact that many “controllers” from government departments, such as the Pentagon, are themselves candidates for high positions in these firms or have close personal relationships with the leadership of private military companies.
Another unresolved and, apparently, fundamentally unsolvable problem is the answer to the question: how much does the military budget save the involvement of military contractors? And is there any savings? Initial calculations by the US Department of Defense Science Committee at the start of the 1990s showed that the privatization of some of the Pentagon’s military functions could save up to 6 billion dollars a year. However, the Control and Financial Department of the United States considered that this figure was overestimated by 75 percent! To date, this issue has not been resolved.
Moreover, there is a situation when it no longer makes sense to solve it, since now only military contractors can provide the US Department of Defense with a solution to many everyday tasks, especially in conflict zones (this ability has already been lost by the armed forces).
Another problem is the situation when a military contractor terminates a contract or requires its revision in its favor. For example, in 2000, the Canadian Ministry of Defense entered into a contract with a civilian firm for the export of weapons and military equipment of the Canadian contingent from Bosnia and Herzegovina, total 550 units of armored vehicles (about 30 percent of the Canadian ground forces). As a result of financial disagreements with the contractor, the cargo ship drifted for more than two weeks near the Canadian coast until the shipowner achieved a solution to the issue in his favor.
The fact is that according to the law of most Western countries, if the state of war has not been declared, the company and its management do not bear any responsibility for breaking a contract, except for a commercial one, which has yet to be proved in court. The Pentagon is trying to solve this problem by allowing to privatize only "types of security that are not essential for an emergency." In practice, this is difficult to achieve: for example, in Iraq, the same supply of fuel and lubricants was completely privatized.
Nevertheless, despite the presence of serious problems, the process of privatization of a part of the state’s military functions in the main Western countries is becoming irreversible. As long as there are wars and military conflicts, there will always be a demand for military expertise and military services. And taking into account the constantly decreasing armed forces throughout the world, the institution of military contractors will not only exist, but will most likely be further developed.
In the first photo: MPRI (United States) employees instruct Afghan soldiers in Kunduz Province, 2010.