The security of their land and their people is of vital concern to all countries. Additionally, being strong and invincible in war zones is important as well. To achieve these two prime goals which contribute to the continuity of countries, countries prefer either to employ their own armies or to employ private security organizations. There are certain advantages of private security companies, whereas there are also disadvantages.
The first advantage of private security companies in war zones is the surge and the flexibility provided by PSCs. As seen in Iraq, PSCs can provide a surge and quickly field additional forces. Not needing the political and bureaucratic lead time required for mobilizing military forces, PSCs can move forces in to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. These forces can disappear as quickly as they appear. Once dangers pass or local forces are trained and deployed, contracts can lapse and these personnel can be quickly demobilized. The second advantage of PSCs is their specialized forces. These companies recruit from databases of mostly retired military and police personnel. This makes it easier for them to hire people with particular experience. So, for instance, a PSC can specifically recruit retired MPs, civil affairs officers and Special Forces personnel. PSCs can also recruit personnel with particular skills or particular experience. It is much harder for national military organizations to find those kinds of specific skills and experience, and deploy them to a particular arena because they do not have such databases but only their regular armies which may not be as specialized as private contractors. PSCs can also recruit internationally. They are able to gather soldiers from countries like Fiji, South Africa and elsewhere. The final advantage of PSCs is that they are politically less costly organizations. Private contractors work for profit and of their own choice, whereas national troops work for their country. Therefore, sending employees of PSCs abroad does not correspond to sending national troops. The former is easier to carry out.
The first disadvantage of PSCs is that employees of PSCs can easily commit human rights violations. They carry and use weapons. They are able to load bombs. They can also fulfill other essential military functions. As a result of these, private contractors might engage in violence against innocent people in cases when they lose control. Additionally, losing their control does not require a long period of time. On the contrary, it can easily occur. Due to the fact that private soldiers are not disciplined as well as soldiers of armies, they may get out of control and not listen to their captains. After that, they do harm to innocent people. Sometimes, they even kill them. That is why, they pose a threat to civilians and to international human rights law. The second disadvantage of PSCs is summary executions fulfilled by employees of PSCs. According to U.S. military reports, private soldiers of U.S.-based firm Blackwater Horizon killed 17 civilians on the 16th of September 2007 in Baghdad. Because of the fact that this incident occurred without provocation, it is called a massacre. In addition, more than 20 civilians were injured. Despite the terms of the contracts which determine that PSCs can engage only in defensive use of force, the company Blackwater’s contractors fired the first shots in over 80 per cent of the shooting incidents. A further disadvantage of PSCs is acts of torture. For instance, in 2007, two U.S.-based corporations CACI and L-3 Services put Iraqi detainees to the torture at Abu Ghraib, whereas these services were only responsible for interrogation and translation services. Plaintiffs asserted 20 causes of action among which there was torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The last disadvantage of PSCs is arbitrary detentions. In addition to arbitrary detentions, clandestine raids against alleged insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan may sometimes occur, too. Employees of PSCs are involved in taking of detainees from pick up points, transporting them in rendition flights and delivering them to drop off points. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in May 2007 against Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. which is a subsidiary of Boeing. The ACLU claimed that Jeppesen would have participated in the rendition by providing flight planning and logistical support.
To sum up, to provide substantial security on the entire land for their people and to succeed in war zones, some countries resort to private security companies. Alternatively, some countries stick to their national armies. There are both advantages and disadvantages of private security companies which make both choices right according to the point of view. By: KEREM ÇIRPAN