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Book Review: Corporate Warriors- The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry

Corporate Warriors-The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, 2003. P.W. Singer. 340 pages. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

After Singer researched the post-war situation in Bosnia supported by UN in 1996, he interviewed regional specialists, government officials, local military analysts and peacekeeper and soon discovered that some of them were the employees of a small private company based in Virginia called Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), but were performing tasks inherently military. That is the reason the author, went to DR Congo, Sierra Leone and Angola to study about the role of private military firm and has written this book on the basis of interviews, observations and secondary data.

This book is mainly targeted three different audiences such as academic world, world of policy (individual working in the field of foreign affairs and defense matters) and general readers. The words used in this book are simple and easy to understand. The present book under review has divided the content into three different types with 14 different topics. Let me first briefly outline the contents of the book. The first part discloses the rise of privatized military including the history of the industry. The Second part many focused on the organization, classification, and operation of privatized military forces. And, the third part emphasizes on the implications and morality of the firm.

In chapter two explained the history of the industry; the end of cold war demanded and emerged the private military force. When the Berlin wall fell and the global order collapsed, there was a security gap and the private market rushed to fill the gap. I was very much surprised to read the availability of massive arms stock (in case of Nepal) in open market in chapter 4. For instance, in Uganda, Ak-47 is similar with the price of chicken and which was also a price of goat in Kenya (p.54). Although the question is how many people can afford chicken or goat in these countries, but still the fear remains what will be the future of the world if the availability of sophisticated weapons are common. The author also talks about the various factors that have contributed to make these weapons common.In one interview, Singh said that, "A ten-year-old can learn how to use an AK-47 in under thirty minutes, which means another addition to the demand side in terms of the threats produced. "

The new privatized military industry encompasses hundreds of companies, thousands of employees, and billions of dollars in revenue. Thus, the Military Consulting firm, MPRI chapter mainly raises the two questions. First, Is MPRI just a private extension of the US Army? Second, is it a mechanism for rewarding former US officers after their retirement? This is because another chapter disclose about the industry employee pool and the value of ex where PMF tend to hire former personnel of national and multinational militaries. However, there is a contractual dilemma from both weak and strong states. Weak states are inadequate and insufficient and have no alternative other than hiring the private military. For instance, in Sierra Leone, the government requested the private firm to saves the state. Similarly, Strong states are no longer trained to involve in fight. If a state is no longer able to provide security to its citizens, does the state hold any legitimacy to control its citizens?

The book also describes the similarities in terms of structure between private and government military force. But the question, where does the corporate military firm get legitimacy still remains unanswered.
The author highlighted balancing proper civilian control with the military professionals needs for autonomy because the legitimacy of the PMF still remains questionable and debatable. There have been the cases of human rights abuses of the law and lack of accountability and immunity from the PMF. In 2003, the media was flooded with torture of prisoners held in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but none of them have been charged with a crime. The US military police and CIA also recruited two PMSCs, which was even accepted by CACI investigation. The author describes about the morality of PMF and found international law as inapplicable to the PMF.

There is no law for PMF industry and accountability become diffused and more difficult to track. The author argues that if the public protection hired employees through private firms, the security becomes private goods not collective. Thus, the rationale for citizen loyalty is weakened and the regime’s legitimacy is contested. The questions that are hanging on the air are; whether PMF should be involved in the name of protecting the assets of states or their citizens or the both?

Final Comment:

Overall, the book provides the clear understanding about the development of private military after the failed of public military force. The book opens up many questions, myths of sovereign country and the power of capitalism. The book has only included certain powerful countries like USA and Certain African Countries. The author should also take into consideration of developing countries especially Asia, which is lacking in the book. There are many serious problems of state and for alternative safety; both the weak and the strong states have used private military force, but the huge mega military has lacked public trust and has the crises of legitimacy. It was my first book to read about the private military force and find it worth reading.

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Comments

Waqar Azim's picture

Book Review by Sanita

I am so thankful to Sanita and appreciate her vision and efforts.
This is great information to everyone who is watching the new movements in the world
and new trends in the world.This book is an eye opener for weak countries and weak nations.
Taking advantage of the time I have seen the profile of Sanita
I appreciate her determination and will power required to get an extra ordinary position in the world.
My compliments and best wishes to her.
Hope she will continue contiributions like one before us for the benefit of every one.
May GOD bless her more.
thanks

sunita.basnet's picture

Who is Sanita?

Dear Waqar,
Thanks for writing about her but I wonder who is she? Is she the World pulse member?
Or Are you referring to me? If so I am not Sanita instead is Sunita. Just wonder....
Best regards

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

Waqar Azim's picture

Book review

I am so sorry for mistake in the spellings.
Certainly it is you.
Thank u and best wishes.
Thanks

sunita.basnet's picture

No Problem

No Problem at all!! How are you dear!!

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

Waqar Azim's picture

You Reply

Well thank u and best wishes.
Hope to see your writings from time to time.
Thanks and regards

zoneziwoh's picture

What a powerful review

My sister, this is very power. I will like to own a copy of this book. Your review is clear and precise

Personally, i am always unclear about the roles of paramilitary.

Just last week, myself and colleagues had a very deep debate about this particular issue, and the case study was on sierra Leone.

Private (military) security service is very political. And one would hardly understand what/ who exactly they work for.

In line with your remark, i think Singer would have involved the Asian community. Again, that is the politics in research making. The title portrays a holistic continental scenario while the content is strategic.

In addition, was there any emphasis made on the trading of the weapons -in this case; who traded the weapon, how was it traded... because saying that an AK 47 was almost the same price as a goat meat/chicken, is unconvincing to me. Firstly, what quantity (kg) of goat is he referring to? Secondly, is he by any chance taking an AK 47 for a SALW (small arms and light weapons), which can be locally made.

Further, he talked on some factors that can make the weapon common. And according to him, it is the fact that a ten year old could understand the basic principles in operating the weapon in 30 minutes. I still don't get it. Many people having the understanding in operating a deadly weapon doesn't guaranteed its abundance.

Dear, this is just my observation to the review.

Once more thank you so so so much, for sharing it with us here.
This alone is very clear as on the politics involve and the logic of armed conflicts.

Tk care

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

facebook: Zoneziwoh

twitter: @ZoFem

zoneziwoh's picture

What a powerful review

My sister, this is very power. I will like to own a copy of this book. Your review is clear and precise

Personally, i am always unclear about the roles of paramilitary.

Just last week, myself and colleagues had a very deep debate about this particular issue, and the casestudy was on sierra Leone.

Private (military ) security service is very political. And one would hardly understand what/ who exactly they work for.

In line with your remark, i think Singer would had involve the Asian community. Again, that is the politics in research making. The title protrays a holistic continental scenario while the content is strategic.

In addition, was there any emphasis made on the trading of the weapons -in this case; who traded the weapon, how was it traded... because saying that an AK 47 was almost the same price as a goat meat/chicken, is unconvincing to me. Firstly, what quantity (kg) of goat is he referring to? Secondly, is he by any chance taking an AK 47 for a SALW (small arms and light weapons), which can be locally made.

Further, he talked on some factors that can make the weapon common. And according to him, it is the fact that a ten year old could understand the basic principles in operating the weapon in 30 minutes. I still don't get it. Many people having the understanding in operating a deadly weapon doesn't guaranteed its abundance.

Dear, this is just my observation to the review.

Once more, thank you so so so much, for sharing it with us here.
This alone is very clear as on the politics involve and the logic of armed conflicts.

Tk care

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

facebook: Zoneziwoh

twitter: @ZoFem

sunita.basnet's picture

Thank you Sweatheart

Dear Zoneziwoh,

Thank you so much for your time and efforts to read and leave comments. Exactly, its really very challenging and complex because of its direct relation with many governments.

I have the same reactions, he didn't clearly mentioned about it. SO that was What I was referring in the review as well. All the the things you mentioned are lacking in his book but this is a book which will encourage you to do more research in the field. This is a good start!!:P

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

zoneziwoh's picture

True!

You are right. I am in total agreement. This is the type of book that would motivate people to always close the gap by going in to the field for research.

Plz pardon my double posting. I have noticed that whenever I used my phone to respond to anything, it double post and I definitely dislike it, but unfortunately I cant delete too.

Tk care

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

facebook: Zoneziwoh

twitter: @ZoFem

sunita.basnet's picture

Re: true

Its ok it happened with me several times so can understand! hahhahah.. I love reading your comments and hearing from you. Love your blog. :P

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

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