P.W. Singer’s paper "Can’t Win With ‘Em, Can’t Go To War Without ‘Em: Private Military Contractors and Counterinsurgency" is online at Brookings. I suggest you read it. Let me draw your attention to the very important quote from Nick Bicanic’s testimony to Congress at the bottom of page 9 that helps give context to the issue:
Iraqis do not differentiate between armed security contractors and US soldiers. In other words, security contractors are America’s public diplomats– and yet these same contractors are not held to same oversight or standards of accountability as our soldiers. We may try to distance ourselves by the actions of the contractors, thinking they provide convenient temporary manpower whose deaths won’t be marked by a flag draped coffin coming through Dover, but that only plays in the United States. Overseas, where the public opinion really matters in the struggle for minds and will in the insurgency, the contractors are the U.S. and are directly involved in the mission.
2 thoughts on “Singer on Private Military Companies in Counterinsurgency”
Just printed the article, will read over the weekend, but just wanted to note that this goes to the “Unity of Purpose” that is part and parcel of every counter-insurgency strategy. The really damning thing about the Blackwater incident, is that these guys are not working for the U.S. military but for the State Department, which should know better how Blackwater’s actions reflect on American efforts in the region. This tells me that either, no one at state thinks they have a role to play in the counter-insurgency strategy or they are so scared for their safety that they’d rather have Blackwater overreact than increase the likelihood of an attack against State Dept. personnel.
Or in the language of the RAND guys, Blackwater’s actions impact USA’s and USMC’s brand.
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