The Modern Mercenary

The Modern Mercenary

Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order

Book - 2014
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Oxford University Press
It was 2004, and Sean McFate had a mission in Burundi: to keep the president alive and prevent the country from spiraling into genocide, without anyone knowing that the United States was involved. The United States was, of course, involved, but only through McFate's employer, the military contractor DynCorp International. Throughout the world, similar scenarios are playing out daily. The United States can no longer go to war without contractors. Yet we don't know much about the industry's structure, its operations, or where it's heading. Typically led by ex-military men, contractor firms are by their very nature secretive. Even the U.S. government-the entity that actually pays them-knows relatively little.

In The Modern Mercenary, Sean McFate lays bare this opaque world, explaining the economic structure of the industry and showing in detail how firms operate on the ground. A former U.S. Army paratrooper and private military contractor, McFate provides an unparalleled perspective into the nuts and bolts of the industry, as well as a sobering prognosis for the future of war. While at present, the U.S. government and U.S. firms dominate the market, private military companies are emerging from other countries, and warlords and militias have restyled themselves as private security companies in places like Afghanistan and Somalia. To understand how the proliferation of private forces may influence international relations, McFate looks back to the European Middle Ages, when mercenaries were common and contract warfare the norm. He concludes that international relations in the twenty-first century may have more in common with the twelfth century than the twentieth. This "back to the future" situation, which he calls "neomedievalism," is not necessarily a negative condition, but it will produce a global system that contains rather than solves problems.

The Modern Mercenary is the first work that combines a broad-ranging theory of the phenomenon with an insider's understanding of what the world of the private military industry is actually like.

Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2014]
ISBN: 9780199360109
Branch Call Number: 355.354 M166m 2014
Characteristics: xx, 248 pages ; 25 cm


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Mar 18, 2018

Interesting thoughtful little book that shined light onto opaque business.
Used to be common until 400 years ago thanks to strong centralized states.
America's dirty little secret now that their armed forces changed from conscription to volunteer & public wanting few casualties as possible. They used mercenaries ,sorry, private military corporation for assorted 'little covert jobs' like bodyguard to propping up a third world country at lower price than using own armed forces
Author explained "neomedievalism". Overlapping authorities & allegiances creating durable disorder. Think all the official & unofficial non-governmental organizations today. Term not present in 1970 cold war because two superpowers. Now, oh yeah.
Basic three types of mercenaries in PMC. The ones who kill & train combatants (combat arms). the ones that support combat arms like military police & military intelligence but not in direct combat (Combat service) & the ones to maintain equipment, personnel military base & do the paperwork (Combat service support)
The problem is that other countries (eg. Russia & China) getting into the very opaque mercenary business & into other shady jobs
Bifurcation of mercenary business. Medicated market. The other warlordism & endless combat with total free market.

Oct 26, 2015

Thought provoking must read. Who is in control? A wonderful philosophical examination of war. Who is fighting, funding and directing it. What is shifting in world relations.

Wonderfully written and researched.


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