Understanding the world of PSCs:
Private Security Companies are a relatively new feature in modern conflicts. Prior to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, some firms did work in Africa and the Balkans, and gained a fair amount of notoriety because they seemed to operate under the radar and in opposition to international treaties outlawing military assistance or the transfer of weapons to certain countries. Peter Singer’s book Corporate Warriors (2003) was the first serious attempt to understand the scope of the trend, and the chart below, adapted from Deborah Avant’s equally good book, Markets for Force, depicts the types of firms that have operated in this space.
Figure 1: Types of PMSC activities and sample companies
(based on Avant, 2005)
For the last fifteen years, scholars and journalists have worked to understand the costs and benefits of these firms. Here are some of the best and most recent books and articles on the subject.