I have always advocated the use of a Private Military Company (PMC) or a Private Security Company (PSC) above that of the UN or a foreign armed force’s training teams. The recent revelations of UN corruption and sexual abuse towards those they have undertaken to protect has simply strengthened my thoughts on the matter.
My belief is that the professional PMC/PSC comes with no political strings attached, views its mission as a matter of honour, is subject to the laws of the contracting country and is contracted to achieve an agreed aim within a defined time.
The predicament many governments face lies in selecting the PMC/PSC - which company is professional and which is not. Which company has a credible history and not one consisting of fantasy? Which company will place its mission first – above its commercial interests? Which company will, regardless of the circumstances, deliver what it promises? Which company can substantiate its track-record with facts as opposed to bluster, false propaganda and lies? Do they subscribe to a high standard of training and advice and follow a strict code of conduct?
Adding to this problem is that there has been an unprecedented growth in PMCs and PSCs. But, as with all businesses, there are those that can add value to any contract they undertake. But there are also those companies that aspire to be PMCs or PSCs but are lacking in expertise, experience and any semblance of a reputation.
These imposters prey on vulnerable governments and/or corporations in Africa and the East. They cannot give a government sound advice on strategy or tactics. They have no real experience or expertise in the field they claim to be specialists in. Their conduct in the field is despicable. They ascribe to the lowest possible training standards. In short, they are fly-by-night con-artists who are out to make a quick buck at the expense of their client. In this process of deception and incompetence, they tarnish the reputation of the PMCs and PSCs who are able to deliver on their promises.
Some newly-established PMCs/PSCs scour the market place looking for people with a reputation to add to their list of contacts/associates/partners and directors in order to use these names to open doors for them. They believe that these names will bring in the business. They use these names to develop proposals on their behalf and then end up selling the proposals as their own work or without the permission or knowledge of the author. With this lack of honour towards those who they rope in to assist themselves, imagine their lack of honour towards their clients.
A number of PMCs/PSCs are sponsored by Western governments who have motives that are not always obvious. These PMCs become their favoured companies to use – and they act on behalf of the sponsoring government’s foreign policy and also act as intelligence fronts. They are not there to help clients but rather to advance their government’s agendas – usually to the detriment of the client-government.
I, like many others, know of some PMCs and PSCs out there, that thrive on false track records. They use the histories of companies they have never been involved with – and use the track-records of those companies on their glamorous brochures and smart websites in order to dupe governments and corporations into employing them. They claim to have “24-hour crisis response centres” – which don’t exist. The end result is that they cannot accomplish what they undertook to deliver or were contracted to do. They can (sometimes) talk the talk but are unable to walk the walk.
Perhaps the time has come to expose those companies that pose as Private Military Companies and Private Security Companies. It is time to name and shame those that make false claims to the detriment of their clients. It is time to stop those irresponsible companies that are ruthlessly exploiting under-siege governments and in the process damaging a very important industry. It is time the real PMCs stood up and cleaned up the industry, instead of waiting for the media or a foreign government to make that exposure.
I am sure that under-siege governments would welcome knowing who they can trust to deliver a professional service that will serve their interests and who to stay away from. As long as the poser companies are allowed to continue with their nefarious activities, governments will be left wondering.
Given the bad publicity that PMCs and PSCs have attracted within certain segments of the media – and not all of it has been unfair - a house-cleaning operation will not bring about much of a change. Anti-PMC/PSC sentiments will forever remain, especially by the UN, NGOs and multi-nationals with hidden agendas. But, if the industry is cleaned up from within, their calls for action against the industry will simply be hollow.