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The United States is Justified in Using Private Military Firms to Pursue its Military Objectives Abroad

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Former Deputy Secretary of Defense, John White, stated: “The department is committed to ensuring future modernization, maintaining, and improving the quality of life of its forces . . . . To meet these pressing requirements, we must find more efficiencies and savings in our internal operations through outsourcing.” Because this quote holds true to this day, the following resolution must be affirmed: “The United States is justified in using private military firms abroad to pursue its military objectives.” In order to make this a more clearly defined essay, I offer the following definitions: Justified (from Black’s Law Dictionary)- a lawful or sufficient reason for ones act or omissions. Private Military Firms- Peter W. Singer defines 3 types of military firms in his book Corporate Warriors. Those operating closest to the fighting are military provider firms. Removed from direct action against an opponent but still providing planning or training support are military consulting firms. Farthest from the fighting are military support firms that provide logistical and other kinds of support. Military objectives- current military objectives abroad mainly consist of the War on Terror. The main theaters for this war are Iraq and Afghanistan. The necessary value for this essay is National Security. Walter Lippmann stated, "A nation has security when it does not have to sacrifice its legitimate interests to avoid war, and is able, if challenged, to maintain them by war." In this modern arena of warfare PMFs are essential in maintaining national security because PMFs are essential to the military complex. The appropriate value criterion for this essay is Cost/Benefit analysis. A cost/benefit analysis is done to determine how well, or how poorly, a planned action will turn out; it is mostly used in economics. The cost for using PMFs is much less than that of using convention military. The benefit of a lower cost is extremely agreeable. In a report the United States House Committee on Armed Services, James Wynn stated, “The employment of PSCs [PMFs] can provide the United States with access to capabilities that would otherwise be unavailable or “would [either] take an inordinate amount of time to develop internally, or . . . be prohibitively expensive to develop.”

Contention one: PMFs are far more economic than conventional military. Doug Brooks, founder and president of the International Peace Operations Association trade association states, "Contractors are cost effective because the government doesn’t have to maintain standing forces, pay pensions, or provide benefits, to name just a few things that the public sector must do.” Also, cost savings stems from competition for US government contracts on the open market. Another source of savings comes from the hiring of already trained employees. The government doesn’t have to spend money on training those from PMFs. National Security is effectively upheld using PMFs and cost/benefit analysis favors the decision of invoking PMFs to pursue military interests abroad.

Contention two: PMFs provide valuable skills to the United States Military. David Isenberg, the author of The Shadow Force states, “In the role of security operator, [PMFs] are able to bring a lifetime of training and experience to a specific job. Most of the actual security teams operating on the ground frequently are composed of former and retired senior non-commissioned officers. In contrast, a young Army soldier or Marine, recently graduated from his or her basic training and specialty school is just that: young and inexperienced.” The “valuable skills” argument also holds true in other areas of contracting besides combat—for example, high-tech weapon systems. According to Michael Guidry in the Air Force Journal of Logistics, the armed forces often lack the knowledge base to maintain or even operate these systems. For instance, Private Military Firms maintain the Apache and Blackhawk helicopters; a handful of developmental/operational test pilots and contractor pilots from Private Military Firms were the only personnel available to operate Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Iraq. Cost/benefit analysis of this talent weighs heavily upon using Private Military Firms to maintain national security in pursuing American military objectives abroad.

Contention three: Private Military Firms are lawful. According to Mitchell McNaylor in the Yale Journal of International Affairs, Private Military Firms are bound by law, since they require the law of contract to operate. The United States, as a party to contracts, has a say in how those contracts are formed and executed, and in the fall of 2007, Congress added specific language to be included in contracts with contractors providing private security functions. The new contract clause requires contractors to comply with regulations, keep relevant records, keep track of weapons, register vehicles, and report incidents involving discharge of weapons, death, or injury. In addition, contracts now require that persons serving under the contract be made aware of the relevant laws governing their situation. Second, U.S. courts can acquire jurisdiction over American companies, where PMFs may be sued in court for alleged wrongs. Also, the War Crimes Act of 1996, amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2006, confers jurisdiction over U.S. citizens and members of the U.S. armed forces who commit war crimes. Under these given facts the justification of PMFs must be affirmed so that they may uphold national security as a cost/benefit analysis favors.

In conclusion, Private Military firms have been proven to be the most effective and beneficial way to uphold national security. They are highly economic, provide valuable skills, and are lawful. In Gordon Campbell’s Contractors on the Battlefield he stated that, “The use of Private Military Firms to support military operations is no longer a “nice to have.” Their support is no longer an adjunct, ad hoc add-on to supplement a capability. PMF support is an essential, vital part of our force projection capability and increasing in its importance.”

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In the declining years of the Roman Empire, the Romans manned their Legions largely by mercenaries, mostly foreign. This business with the PMF's sounds somewhat like that. Is this a symptom of impending death of the U.S.?

ruveyn

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In the declining years of the Roman Empire, the Romans manned their Legions largely by mercenaries, mostly foreign. This business with the PMF's sounds somewhat like that. Is this a symptom of impending death of the U.S.?

ruveyn

I would not compare PMFs to the mercenaries of the Roman Empire. First, the PMF market is owned almost solely by the United States company. They are not traders and certainly do not wish for the downfall of America. THis would mean a downfall of profit.

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At the beginning of this Republic, during the Revolution and the War of 1812, good use was made of "outsourcing" through the privateers fighting the British at sea. Foreign allies, such as the French, also helped. Why is someone paid for being a soldier demeaned as a "mercenary"? Today we have quite a bit of outsourcing in the development new technologies intended for use by the military -- though it isn't always very "efficient", to say the least.

"Outsourcing" of fighting units and specialists could be done in principle, but would have to be used under control of the military in accordance with military strategy under foreign policy, and not turn into a system of bidding for and paying off freewheeling gangsters.

With a volunteer, paid military instead of the loathsome draft that used to exist, there doesn't seem to be any need in general for "outsourcing" (the Romans had to do it). What is the context and broader purpose of this essay?

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At the beginning of this Republic, during the Revolution and the War of 1812, good use was made of "outsourcing" through the privateers fighting the British at sea. Foreign allies, such as the French, also helped. Why is someone paid for being a soldier demeaned as a "mercenary"? Today we have quite a bit of outsourcing in the development new technologies intended for use by the military -- though it isn't always very "efficient", to say the least.

"Outsourcing" of fighting units and specialists could be done in principle, but would have to be used under control of the military in accordance with military strategy under foreign policy, and not turn into a system of bidding for and paying off freewheeling gangsters.

With a volunteer, paid military instead of the loathsome draft that used to exist, there doesn't seem to be any need in general for "outsourcing" (the Romans had to do it). What is the context and broader purpose of this essay?

There is a huge need for outsourcing. One of the main points is efficiency. Privatization is the key to reach efficiency. PMFs are far more efficient than the military itself in provided certain key skills to achieve foreign policy objectives. PMFs are also bound by law. However, even more than that they are bound by the law of contract. If they wish to receive contracts they will abided by the stipulations of the contract that the US government writes. The United States Military simply cannot operate without PMFs. The broader context of this essay is just to show favor for an already favorable entity.

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Who says there is a huge need for military outsourcing for fighting units, and that this is "essential"? You say these things but don't demonstrate them. If they were "essential" and the "US military could not operate without them", how come the military is functioning without them now? How did this subject come up?

Who pays for private "standing armies" when they aren't being used and what else would they be doing for whom? Where is the "efficiency"?

There are special purpose private sources for particular functions, but that is not the equivalent of a substitute for "standing armies".

There are massive "outsourced" "development" projects in the "defense industry", but theyr are anything but efficient. If you've ever seen what DARPA and similar "defense contracts" are like you would know that it largely means a whole "industry" competing for government contract money as a high stakes game with little to show for it. It's so bad with the corruption so wide spread that it's a wonder anything useful comes from it at all. It's not an example of efficiency.

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Who says there is a huge need for military outsourcing for fighting units, and that this is "essential"? You say these things but don't demonstrate them. If they were "essential" and the "US military could not operate without them", how come the military is functioning without them now? How did this subject come up?

Who pays for private "standing armies" when they aren't being used and what else would they be doing for whom? Where is the "efficiency"?

There are special purpose private sources for particular functions, but that is not the equivalent of a substitute for "standing armies".

There are massive "outsourced" "development" projects in the "defense industry", but theyr are anything but efficient. If you've ever seen what DARPA and similar "defense contracts" are like you would know that it largely means a whole "industry" competing for government contract money as a high stakes game with little to show for it. It's so bad with the corruption so wide spread that it's a wonder anything useful comes from it at all. It's not an example of efficiency.

PMFs do not provide the bulk of combat services. Combat still remains in the hands of the military itself. Basically, I ask why should you have a military man serve food, fix helicopters, wire circuits and do other things along those lines when he could be doing what he does best, fighting wars. Also, if one considers that the government doesn't have to provide a PMF employee with Veteran Administration benefits and GI bill privileges then it is considerably cheaper to hire a PMF. I cover some of this in the essay.

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Soldiers in combat do have to know how to perform a lot of techncial maintenance and emergency repairs in order to survive and keep going, but a lot of military personnel are specialists or otherwise performing tasks that do not involve combat directly, or at all. I think in WWII only a third of military personnel saw combat.

But you are arguing for replacing "standing armies" with outsourcing and "private military firms", claiming that the military could not function without that even though it does now, and have not answered the question of what these "outsourced" substitutes for "standing armies" are doing and who is paying them while not being used by the military.

Also, you haven't answered the question of what brought this topic up. What is the purpose of this essay and in what broader context? The way it is presented it sounds like a debating topic with no other particular significance. "Efficiency" is a goal in everything. Why this topic now?

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Soldiers in combat do have to know how to perform a lot of techncial maintenance and emergency repairs in order to survive and keep going, but a lot of military personnel are specialists or otherwise performing tasks that do not involve combat directly, or at all. I think in WWII only a third of military personnel saw combat.

But you are arguing for replacing "standing armies" with outsourcing and "private military firms", claiming that the military could not function without that even though it does now, and have not answered the question of what these "outsourced" substitutes for "standing armies" are doing and who is paying them while not being used by the military.

Also, you haven't answered the question of what brought this topic up. What is the purpose of this essay and in what broader context? The way it is presented it sounds like a debating topic with no other particular significance. "Efficiency" is a goal in everything. Why this topic now?

It was an old debate topic. I brought it up because I had been reading about some PMFs and foreign policy in Africa. I am not arguing to replace the entire standing army with PMFs. That would be insane. My thesis was that PMFs use is justified.

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PMFs do not provide the bulk of combat services. Combat still remains in the hands of the military itself. Basically, I ask why should you have a military man serve food, fix helicopters, wire circuits and do other things along those lines when he could be doing what he does best, fighting wars. Also, if one considers that the government doesn't have to provide a PMF employee with Veteran Administration benefits and GI bill privileges then it is considerably cheaper to hire a PMF. I cover some of this in the essay.

It's good for discipline, and keeps soldiers busy in idle times.

The French Legionnaires, arguably the toughest force in Algeria during the Algerian Independence war, would build their own camps. From desert to a full base with brick barracks. These former criminals and foreigners were moulded by the extremely hard work ethic of the Legion into an almost invincible band with exceptional teamwork. A large part of the training was the sheer amount of stupid work like washing bathrooms with a toothbrush, it was the volume and impossibly high standards that forced these men to learn to work fast and efficiently and obey without question.

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...not to mention an extremely high desertion rate in the FFL because they were not being treated like professional soldiers but rather laborers that fight.

You've asserted that the "military could not function without that even though it does now" this is an incorrect statement, the US military has been using PMFs heavily for the last two decades. This is an off shoot of an all volunteer force. The excess personnel available due to the Draft no longer exist. The 7-9 support personnel per 1 combat arms personnel that used to consist entirely of folks that would then rely on the Government for the rest of their lives has been reduced to approximately 2 to 2.5 support troops for each front line soldier with the difference being made up in paid contractors.

You ask what these folks do when not under contract to the government and for whom. *scary*! Asking the question in such a way as to make it sound sinister is slightly off-putting. What does a person who builds barracks do after their term of employment is up...they return to the civilian market and build houses. What does the former soldier do after he leaves the Army, works for one of these PMFs on a security detail do...returns to the civilian market and becomes a police officer or security guard or in some cases returns to the military. PMFs are not fighting pitched battles as infantry units, nor are the analogous to the FFL in scope or duties. More importantly they are not guns for hire in the sense that most folks associate with B movies and late night TV selling their services to the villain of the hour.

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The original topic was posed much more broadly than hiring contractors who do things like build barracks; it emphasized fighting units, which implies keeping them together as a unit and trained.

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The original topic was posed much more broadly than hiring contractors who do things like build barracks; it emphasized fighting units, which implies keeping them together as a unit and trained.

In short: mercenaries. Nothing wrong with that. The Romans also used them and they did pretty well. The Romans were in their prime and their age, the all time champions in kicking a**. The U.S. could do a lot worse.

ruveyn

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The U.S. could do a lot worse.

Not by much -- the Romans were wiped out.

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The U.S. could do a lot worse.

Not by much -- the Romans were wiped out.

Rome rotted from the inside out. Two things lead to the disintegration: 1. The Romans never learned how to transfer power in a peaceful manner and 2. They adopted Christianity as an official religion.

Think of that scene in -Atlas Shrugged- when Eddy Willers remembers the great oak tree whose insides rotted out.

If the U.S. collapses it will be primarily because of internal rot.

ruveyn

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The U.S. could do a lot worse.

Not by much -- the Romans were wiped out.

Rome rotted from the inside out. Two things lead to the disintegration: 1. The Romans never learned how to transfer power in a peaceful manner and 2. They adopted Christianity as an official religion.

Think of that scene in -Atlas Shrugged- when Eddy Willers remembers the great oak tree whose insides rotted out.

If the U.S. collapses it will be primarily because of internal rot.

This is true of US -- it's already on the way.

Rome had a lot of problems in addition to the two you mention -- largely internal but including trying to control a huge part of the world around it as its empire. In its final period it was wiped out by barbarians from outside who overran the mercenary armies. You had written "The Romans also used [mercenaries] and they did pretty well. The Romans were in their prime and their age, the all time champions in kicking a**."

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