RESEARCH PAPER
Countering terrorism in the shadows: The role of private security and military companies
 
More details
Hide details
1
School of International Relations, University of New York in Prague, Czech Republic
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Iveta Hlouchova   

School of International Relations, University of New York in Prague, Londynska 41, 10200 Prague, Czech Republic
Submission date: 2020-09-15
Final revision date: 2020-11-23
Acceptance date: 2020-11-24
Online publication date: 2020-12-19
Publication date: 2020-12-30
 
Security and Defence Quarterly 2020;31(4):155–169
 
KEYWORDS
TOPICS
ABSTRACT
The article identifies the main features of the PSMCs’ involvement in counterterrorism operations and outlines what their future involvement might look like with its implications for international peace and security. The main methods used to gather data and to draw inferences are a content analysis of relevant primary and secondary sources, and a discourse analysis, used as a method of examining the prevailing discourse surrounding the activities of PSMCs, seeking to understand the level of transparency, accountability and attributability of these actors. So far, the PSMCs’ potential for counterterrorism has not been fully exploited. There are many challenges surrounding the existence and operations of PSMCs, mainly lack of transparency and accountability, the continuous significance of the plausible deniability and political expediency PSMCs provide to nation governments, and an insufficient and inadequate international regulatory and control framework with no sanction or enforcement mechanisms. Most recently, the tendency to re-legitimise PSMCs’ activities can be identified. There will most probably be an expansion of PSMCs’ activities in the near future, as climate change consolidates security as a commodity, not a right. Therefore, there is a renewed urgency for adequate and effective international regulatory and control mechanisms on their activities on the international level.
 
REFERENCES (38)
1.
ABC News In-depth YouTube channel (2020) ‘The fighter pilot, the mercenary boss, and the warlord: a modern Libyan war story, Four Corners’ documentary’, September 14. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... (Accessed: 14 September 2020).
 
2.
BBC (2018) Syria War: Who are Russia’s shadowy Wagner mercenaries. February 23. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world...(Accessed 15 September 2020).
 
3.
Campbell, C. (2019) ‘Leaked Documents Claim to Reveal Internal Protocols for China’s Muslim Detention Camps’, TIME, November 25, 2019. Available at: https://time.com/5738401/xinji... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
4.
Chatterjee, P. and Thompson, A. C. (2004) ‘Private Contractors and Torture at Abu Ghraib, Iraq’, Corpwatch, May 7, 2004. Available at: https://theintercept.com/2020/... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
5.
Cole, M. and Emmons, A. (2020) ‘Erik Prince offered lethal services to sanctioned Russian mercenary firm Wagner’, The Intercept, April 13, 2020. Available at: https://theintercept.com/2016/... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
6.
Cole, M. and Scahill, J. (2016) ‘Erik Prince in the Hot Seat’, The Intercept, March 24, 2016. Available at: https://theintercept.com/2016/... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
7.
Crelinsten, R. (2009) Counterterrorism. Cambridge: Polity.
 
8.
Farlin, J. (2014) ‘Instruments of National Power: How America Earned Independence’, Strategic Research Project, US Army War College. Available at: https://publications.armywarco... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
9.
Gibson-Neff, T. (2018) ‘How a 4-Hour Battle Between Russian Mercenaries and U.S. Commandos Unfolded in Syria’, The New York Times, May 24, 2018. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/0... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
10.
Gomis, B. (2016) Counterterrorism: Reassessing the Policy Response. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
 
11.
Hlouchova, I. (2018) ‘Private security, military companies and foreign fighters: Possible interactions and potential practical implications’, in Gruszczak, A. and Frankowksi, P. (eds) Technology, Ethics and the Protocols of Modern War. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 41–54.
 
12.
Innes, M. (eds. 2012) Making Sense of Proxy Wars: States, Surrogates & the Use of Force, Washington, DC: Potomac Books.
 
13.
International Code of Conduct Association no date. Available at: https://www.icoca.ch (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
14.
International Committee of the Red Cross (2008), The Montreux Document. Available at: https://www.icrc.org/en/public... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
15.
Jesus, C. E. (2013) ‘Kidnappings as a Terrorist Instrument of AQIM and the MUJAO’, Paix et Sécurité Internationales, Num. 1, January – December, pp. 161-166. Available at: https://www.peacepalacelibrary... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
16.
King, J. (2016) ‘A Comprehensive Strategy for Combating Terrorism’, in Wither, J. K. and Mullins, S. (eds.) Combating Transnational Terrorism, Sofia, Bulgaria: Procon Ltd., pp. 253–269.
 
17.
Kirchgaessner, S. (2017) ‘Blackwater founder pitches plan to quell Libya migrant crisis with private police’, The Guardian, November 30, 2017. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/wo... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
18.
Marten, K. (2020) ‘The GRU, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and Russia’s Wagner Group: Malign Russian Actors and Possible U.S. Responses’, Testimony before the Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment United States House of Representatives, Hearing on Exposing and Demanding Accountability for Kremlin Crimes Abroad. Available at: https://docs.house.gov/meeting... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
19.
Mumford, A. (2013) Proxy Warfare: War and Conflict in the Modern World. Cambridge: Polity Press.
 
20.
Prince, E. (2017) ‘Erik Prince: Contractors, Not Troops, Will Save Afghanistan’, The New York Times, Opinion, August 30. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/0... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
21.
Prince, E. (2020) Brian Kilmeade Show, podcast interview, August 28, 2020. Available at: https://radio.foxnews.com/2020... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
22.
Reuters Staff (2019) ‘Erik Prince company to build training center in China’s Xinjiang’, Reuters, Big Story 10, January 31, 2019. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/articl... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
23.
Reynolds, N. (2019) ‘Putin’s Not-So-Secret Mercenaries: Patronage, Geopolitics, and the Wagner Group’, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 8. Available at: https://carnegieendowment.org/... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
24.
Scahill, J. (2007) Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Powerful Mercenary Army. New York, NY: Nation Books.
 
25.
Scahill, J. (2013) Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. London: New York, NY: Nation Books.
 
26.
Scahill, J. and Cole, M. (2019) ‘The Persistent Influence of Trump’s “Shadow Adviser” Erik Prince’, The Intercept, November 6, 2019. Available at: https://theintercept.com/2019/... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
27.
Seligman, L. (2020) ‘General Announces Iraq, Afghanistan troops drawdown as Trump looks to fulfill campaign pledge’, Politico, Defense, September 9, 2020. Available at: https://www.politico.com/news/... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
28.
Shemella, P. (2011) ‘Tools and Strategies for Combating Terrorism’, in Shemella, P. (eds) Fighting Back: What Governments Can Do About Terrorism. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 131–147.
 
29.
Shorrock, T. (2008) Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing. New York: Simon&Schuster.
 
30.
Singer, P. (2007) ‘Can’t Win with ‘Em, Can’t Go To War without ‘Em: Private Military Contractors and Counterinsurgency’, Brookings, September 27. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/rese... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
31.
Singer, P. (2008) Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
 
32.
Sparks, J. (2016) ‘Reveled: Russia’s ‘Secret Syria Mercenaries’, Sky News, 10 August. Available at: https://news.sky.com/story/rev... (Accessed: 14 September 2020).
 
33.
Stigall, D. E., Miller, C. and Donatucci, L. (2019) ‘The 2018 U.S. National Strategy for Counterterrorism: A Synoptic Overview’, American University National Security Law Brief, October 7, 2019. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/p... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
34.
Stratfor (2019) As Terrorists Settle Into the Sahel, West Africa Prepares for Battle, May 29. Available at: https://worldview.stratfor.com... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
35.
The Conversation (2015) ‘Why Nigeria is turning to South African mercenaries to help fight Boko Haram’, March 20, 2015. Available at: https://theconversation.com/wh... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
36.
Tonkin, H. (2011) State Control over Private Military and Security Companies in Armed Conflict. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
 
37.
Van Dongen, T. (2010) ‘Mapping Counterterrorism: A Categorization of Policies and the Promise of Empirically Based, Systematic Comparisons’, Critical Studies on Terrorism, 3(2), pp. 227–241.
 
38.
Wars of Waste YouTube channel. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/channe... (Accessed: 15 September 2020).
 
 
CITATIONS (1):
1.
Introduction to the Special Issue ‘Proxy forces in modern warfare’
Cyprian Kozera, Cüneyt Gürer
Security and Defence Quarterly
 
eISSN:2544-994X
ISSN:2300-8741