The Role Of Private Military Corporations In Defence

Authored by: Mark Erbel , Christopher Kinsey

Routledge Handbook Of Defence Studies

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138122505
eBook ISBN: 9781315650463
Adobe ISBN:


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Over the past three decades, Western militaries significantly increased their reliance on private military corporations (PMCs). Indeed, Western militaries have been at the forefront of the practice and are trailblazers for other militaries. That said, PMCs are not unique to the post-Cold War period: civilian suppliers have supported operations throughout history. The specific nature and level of outsourcing to PMCs today is a result of a series of policy decisions taken within an increasingly neoliberal context during the Cold War. Corporations could not have taken on so many military support functions as quickly as they have after 1989 without states’ prior experience and knowledge gained from working increasingly closely with PMCs during the Cold War. What stands out today is the extent of outsourcing, which now spans virtually the entire spectrum of military responsibilities; why and where it is occurring; and its impact on military force structure, into which contractors are becoming ever more formally integrated. PMCs are now central to the making, shaping, and implementation of (grand) strategy, warranting their inclusion in defence studies. This chapter provides key terms, discusses the causes of military outsourcing, introduces three key debates around military contractualisation, outlines contemporary uses of contractors on military operations, and offers an indication of future scenarios of the use of PMCs in defence.

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