Privatizing the Military

Does the U.S. overuse private contractors?


The United States and other nations increasingly rely on private contractors, many of them armed, to guard military bases, protect diplomatic personnel, conduct surveillance of potential military targets and carry out other such duties. Over the past decade, security companies have greatly increased in number and size, becoming a major industry that attracts private-sector clients as well. Multinational corporations hire the same armed contractors that governments use to guard remote mining operations, and shipping companies hire them to fight pirates. Governments and other clients say private guards save money and provide strategic flexibility. Critics argue, however, that using soldiers-for-hire gives governments too much leeway to take armed actions without citizens' or lawmakers' consent. Furthermore, they contend, no system of law — national or international — ...

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