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.
- ISBN-13: 9780199360109
- ISBN-10: 0199360103
- Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
- Publish Date: January 2015
- Page Count: 272
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-06-23
- Reviewer: Staff
Private military security contractors such as Academi (formerly known as Blackwater) receive plenty of publicity (mostly negative), yet “for nearly a decade, contractors have constituted half the United States forces in war zones.” PMSCs are the wave of the future, argues McFate, a former paratrooper and an associate professor at the National Defense University, in this thoughtful examination of mercenary armed forces. Mercenaries constituted the core of most fighting forces throughout history, until strong, centralized states appeared around 400 years ago and monopolized the use of force; but this exclusivity has dwindled since the 1990s, reviving what McFate calls “neomedievalism.” He gives most credit to the triumph of free-market, small-government capitalism. America now fights wars without conscription, resulting in a critical shortage of soldiers and requiring profit-making contractors to deliver essential services. As the U.S. winds down its wars, PMSCs are finding a burgeoning market among nongovernment organizations, multinational corporations, shipping companies, billionaires, and drug cartels, and failed states, which find it easier to buy soldiers than to train them. McFate’s persuasive, unsettling, and nonpolemical account describes the way PMSCs are changing the face of war. (Aug.)