Believe it or not, the private British firm, Global Risk International, “a more bespoke approach to the security industry,” operates the 6th largest military force in Iraq. Overall there are some 15,000 private military contractors in Iraq. In addition to more mundane tasks like feeding the troops they protect convoys and train the Iraqi police, paramilitary and army. The four Americans brutally killed earlier this week were employees of Blackwater Security Consulting who also serve as bodyguards for Paul Bremer.
In the United States, private military firms (PMFs) are similarly pervasive. Over the past 10 years the US has spent more than 300 billion on private forces including a contract for the operation of the computer and communications systems at NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain base, where the U.S. nuclear response is coordinated. Brookings’s Peter Singer notes:
PMFs now provide the logistics for every major U.S. military deployment, and have even taken over the Reserve Officer Training Corps (“ROTC”) programs at over two hundred U.S. universities; that is, private company employees now train the U.S. military leaders of tomorrow.
I have drawn from Peter Singer’s book Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry as well as several of his papers at the Brookings Institution. If you are in need of a small island nation, here is list of private military firms.