Outsourcing warfare: Proxy forces in contemporary armed conflicts
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CISS, GCMC, Germany
James Kenneth Wither   

CISS, GCMC, Gernackerstrasse 2, 82467, Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany
Submission date: 2020-08-17
Final revision date: 2020-09-28
Acceptance date: 2020-09-28
Online publication date: 2020-11-06
Publication date: 2020-12-30
Security and Defence Quarterly 2020;31(4):17–34
The aim of this article is to provide a comprehensive examination of the different types of armed non-state proxy groups. It discusses their characteristics and sponsorship and how they are employed by states in pursuit of their security and foreign policy objectives. The article also analyses the reasons for the recent increase in the use of proxy forces, including the benefits and risks for states that employ them, as well as the broader impact of proxy forces on the international security environment, including great power competition. Data was collected and analysed from a wide range of secondary source documents. A descriptive, qualitative research methodology was applied to print and on-line publications available from governmental, institutional and academic sources. This involved literature reviews and case studies to provide an in-depth understanding of current thinking on the topic, while also identifying potential areas for further research. The article provides a comprehensive, qualitative analysis of the existing literature and case studies on the topic of proxy forces, which due to the research methodology applied, also relies on the researcher’s judgement, choices and assumptions. Proxy wars will remain the norm for the foreseeable future. Two strategic developments drive this conclusion. Firstly, there is the renewal of great power competition for influence, resources and security, and secondly, the imperative for states to achieve these objectives without employing their military forces in a manner that could cause a major war.
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Introduction to the Special Issue ‘Proxy forces in modern warfare’
Cyprian Kozera, Cüneyt Gürer
Security and Defence Quarterly