The web-site, Privatemilitary.org, states that "Private Military Companies" or "PMCs" are:
"...legally established enterprises that make a profit by either providing services involving the potential exercise of force in a systematic way and by military means, and/or by the transfer of that potential to clients through training and other practices, such as logistics support, equipment procurement, and intelligence gathering. It is a potential because the mere presence of a PMC can deter aggressors from considering the use of force a viable course of action. Neither does there have to be an actual or potential military role; a PMC's involvement may as well be directed towards enhancing the recipient's military and security capabilities."
Privatemilitary.org also seeks to differentiate PMC personnel in the field from mercercenaries:
"The foreign or multinational constitution of various legitimate military actors challenge common perceptions of 'mercenaries' as simply soldiers in foreign service and/or working for private gain. Hence Private Military Companies, as well as the military units listed here, should not be labeled or dismissed as simply mercenary forces, there are many other factors to consider when defining either mercenary forces or PMCs."
Well, Usedcarsalesman believes that the executives at PMCs may, understandably, wish to encourage a more open-minded public view of what their companies do. But, the reality is that the rank-and-file guy who contracts with a PMC is simply capitalizing on his hard-earned, specialized military skills in trade for high-pay and the self-esteem that comes from having his skills needed by other entities in the world. He's, for better or worse, a mercenary.
Now this isn't Usedcarsalesman writing some post on how bad mercenaries are for the world etc. In fact, he believes that employing PMCs contractors, lately termed "American Gangsters" or "Western Insurgents" is actually a winning decision -- at least in strategic terms -- for the U.S. In fact, said PMCs are likely the only military organizations that are unencumbered enough to make Iraq a reasonably civilized place for foreign investment and domestic reconstruction, Post-Saddam, in the 21st century.
But, you might ask, "Why PMC's in Iraq? Don't we have Special Operations Forces to kill the insurgents and train the Iraqi police?"
As you may recall, the U.S. Armed Forces defeated the Iraqi military quite rapidly in the 2003 invasion. But, what the U.S. Forces responds to now are "insurgents" -- ex-military or aggressive civilian Iraqis but mostly foreign nationals who want to invest their likely soon-to-be-abbreviated lives in sniping, exploding IEDs, or blowing themselves up to kill the U.S. military and Iraqi citizens allied with it.
Usedcarsalesman says that when you confront an insurgency composed of (likely ex-military) civilians, you defeat it using a vastly superior "Insurgency" composed of (likely ex-military) civilians.
Within this dynamic, its is apparent that U.S. special operations units are not right for the job of defeating an Iraqi insurgency -- like it or not, they are part of an apparatus who's war is basically over and won in Iraq. Instead, you, like the U.S., purchase the services of a vastly superior "Insurgency," a "Western Insurgency" -namely that of Private Military Companies.
More on PMCs:
Private Military Company men are highly-paid & well-equipped. There are no political repercussions when employing them as personnel -- no notes home to mother's who's sons have died fighting for the U.S. effort. And PMC personnel do not have to follow a Military Code of Conduct (as of 2006), their violations of which would be used by enemy insurgents to make a case against them in the international media.
One of the PMC "number" is disposable, dis-ownable, can be labeled a "humanitarian worker" when his actual work for the day was the execution of 42 "head-shot" kills. Or he can be dressed as a Red Cross aid-worker when, in reality, he was actually part of a death squad formed to assassinate specific enemy insurgent individuals. Even better for the Pentagon, PMC personnel can be scape-goated. They get out of hand and the military employer with whom they contract can cut its ties to them, say "we had no idea." But, no matter what, the Pentagon does not get "stuck-with-the-'political'-check" in the press when "outsourcing" to PMCs.
Are there enough personnel in PMCs to get the job done in Iraq? Frankly, Usedcarsalesman says no. Many in the PMC fold are being used to train the developing Iraqi police force, the idea being to allow the Iraqi citizenry to self-police and self-govern. Usedcarsalesman, your humble blogger says, "yeah right."
Usedcarsalesman knows that the Iraqi police force is composed of the same guys that were in Iraq when Saddam was around. And those guys have demonstrated a strong precedent of doing whatever they have to keep their heads on their shoulders and feed their families, even if it means playing ball with the new guys in charge, the U.S. military.
Also, consider that most of the Iraqi Police force likely also lost brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins in Desert Storm, circa 1990-91 and again in the 2003 invasion. You don't think, despite oaths and background investigations, that many in the Iraqi Police are going to be up for some sabotage, revenge etc?
So the PMCs may end up facing what U.S. military faced in the Vietnam War: a need for reliable personnel other than native citizens to help them fight in, police and control a given area. The United States instituted a draft in the 1960s to assemble such additional personnel for the Vietnam conflict. It didn't have the desired effect, but what else was the U.S. going to do, then, during the Cold War?
To run Iraq, PMCs (non-governmental organizations) will take a different tact to raise the private army they are going to need: they will offer cash via their large client (the U.S.), a lot of it and to a lot more ex-military people than they are currently. Usedcarsalesman expects to see Iraq turn in to even more of a large scale, "Wild West," "Wyatt Earp," Soldier of Fortune paradise over the next decade. It's certainly been moving up in that direction for the last two years, just as have the fortunes of PMCs.
As a result of their likely effectiveness in Iraq, Usedcarsalesman predicts that Private Military Companies will become seen as one of the new, dominant "faces" of Warfare in the 21st century.