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Challenges Facing the Security Industry in the 21st Century

Hello Professor,

1. Please evaluate, in a broad sense, the challenges facing the security industry in the 21st Century. Specifically, address the following areas as a minimum:

a. terrorism and the role of the private security industry in the War on Terror
b. the effect of globalization on the industry in terms of the challenges of managing technological change, outsourcing, downsizing, and managing a cross-cultural security organization either in the U.S. or overseas.

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I gave you tons of ideas here. I went way beyond the minimum you asked for, and did a comprehensive survey of the literature on this topic, which is never ending. I focused, as you imply, on private security and the problems and benefits they bring to all areas of operations.
Please let me know if I can add or clarify anything.


Private Military Companies (PMC) are a significant aspect of US foreign policy. Most often, they perform support tasks such as laundry, maintenance, construction or even intelligence gathering. They are used as IT experts and support the overall infrastructure of US military forces abroad.

There are clear benefits to this kind of outsourcing. First, PMCs must maintain a good reputation or risk losing business. It is difficult when you only have one or two customers. Most only have one. This means behavior must be regulated internally. Second, most of the PMC personnel are former military, although that is controversial. Third, most of the evidence holds that PMCs are quicker in transport and intelligence gathering than regular forces. Fourth, most PMCs, since they are a profit-making business, are better able to keep up with the latest technologies.

In Sierra Leone, for example, the ending of the civil war and the overseeing of elections was done entirely by private forces. Executive Outcomes, the English firm sent to Africa, cost less and was more effective than UN forces. Their final bill came to about $50 million, while the UN's was about $600 million (McGhie, 2002). However, the Defense Contract Audit Agency has identified many examples of cost overruns without explanation. In fact, they tend to argue that most of the time, the federal government is ripped off far more than is generally known. Cost savings, in other words, is minimal.

In places such as Afghanistan, the theory had been that PMCs looked less "American" than uniformed, US soldiers. Since these were private firms with investors from all over the planet, it could be painted as a multinational, private security firm. This is quite different from "American occupation." Afghan President Karzai, for example, had a bodyguard and security squad made up of PMC employees from DynCorp. Showing the limitations of this sort of approach, the unit working for DynCorp quit after their initial 90 day contract was up due to contract disputes.

By the mid 1990s, the major firms in this field were HART, Blackwater, Triple Canopy,
DynCorp, Armor-Group, Control Risks Group and Aegis. Downsizing of the US military, the unpopularity of the endless conflict in the Middle East, and the increasing expense of war made these contractors more viable as alternatives.

Of course, these firms are not subject to many regular military regulations, and are certainly not answerable to voters. It is not uncommon to hear calls for "transparency" for PMCs, yet, this seems problematic unless they are merely drafted into the regular security structure of the US. If they are not, then they remain subject to the same laws that any foreign investor would have to follow. These are different from the civil laws and democratic norms of regular military personnel. Standards are low for many of these mercenaries, and some do not have military training. They come from different countries, and have little experience with solidarity among themselves. They are in this for the pay and have no concern for the foreign policy goals of the states that pay them. A simple example might be the consumption of alcohol. US regulars many not drink while overseas, and certainly not while on duty. It is a common report that PMCs do, in fact, imbibe whenever they want, since they are not under the same legal standards.

The problems and challenges of the PMC are equally as impressive. First of all, their chain of command is usually idiosyncratic to the firm. Second, their responsibility is to the shareholders, not to any government, and certainly not to any moral ideal. There is also a lack of supervision, and, on occasion, a mismatch of jobs to skill sets. Some intelligence and even combat personnel had little or no training in the field (Fidler, 2003).

David Shearer (1998) argues that, while the PMC might be inferior to an American or English regular unit, they are far superior to local forces. Because they are outsiders who fight solely for pay, they do not ...

Solution Summary

The challenges facing the security industry in the 21st century are determined.