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An expert from ArmorGroup (left) trains local members of the Nepal and Maoist Armies on the safe removal of unexploded devices.

Media

PMSC News Reports

Media reports play a critical role both in informing the public and as resource for academic work on the private military and security industry. Because journalists base their reports on a variety of sources, including employees, industry sources, and personal observations, their reports often provide an on-the-ground picture of firms' behavior that is lacking in many of other reports.

The Private Security Monitor's media project aggregates recent media reports into a single feed of the most up to date news articles on private security. After one month articles will retire into our news archives. Importantly, PSM exercises some editorial selectivity in articles, both in type of publication and in the topics presented. As such, this page is not a complete archive of all articles published, but a resource for the most relevant stories issued in the past month.

For those seeking in-depth, investigative journalism, view the investigative reports section at the bottom of this page. Separate from general media articles, these reports provide more extensive analysis on PMSCs from a journalist's perspective.

Recent News

Erik Prince's Plan to Privatize the War in Afghanistan  
The Atlantic|  18 August 2017
> The Blackwater founder brought it with him to the Corner Bakery on North Capitol Street in Washington last Thursday, printed out and placed in a presentation binder. He’s been shopping it around D.C. And on Friday, when President Trump huddles with his advisers at Camp David to plot a way forward, it will be in the mix.

'Guardian angel' need for advisers in Afghanistan drives call for more troops  
Reuters|  17 August 2017
> The minimum security requirements mean that providing even just a few thousand advisers for Afghan security forces is a monumental task that, if continued, will keep many thousands more international troops and contractors facing daily threats.

How Militias Became the Private Police for White Supremacists  
Politico|  17 August 2017
> Despite the militias’ public statements of neutrality, evidence has mounted over the past six months that the militias have gravitated decisively toward one side in the street battles that have played out recently in cities across the country. Indeed, during these first months of Trump’s presidency, these loose-knit organizations making up America’s militia movement are losing their anti-government ideological purity as they grow increasingly close with a segment of the right-wing from which many in the recent past had generally kept their distance.

North Korean hackers target US military contractors  
The Hill|  15 August 2017
> Hackers linked to North Korea are targeting U.S. military contractors, including those interested in the missile defense system protecting South Korea, according to a Monday report from Palo Alto Networks.

US failed in Afghanistan campaign, must withdraw forces: Russia official  
PressTV|  15 August 2017
> A senior Russian official has described the US military campaign in Afghanistan as a failure, calling for the withdrawal of American troops from the country, which has now become “an incubator of international terrorism.”

Blackwater founder Erik Prince awaits president’s call to privatise war in Afghanistan  
The Times|  14 August 2017
> President Trump is to be briefed directly on a plan to privatise the war in Afghanistan drawn up by the founder of Blackwater, the world’s most notorious private security company.

Top Dem: Privatizing Afghanistan War would be 'affront' to US troops  
The Hill|  10 August 2017
> The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is urging against a private contractor’s pitch to take over the war in Afghanistan.

Is Blackwater Back in Iraq?  
WarisBoring|  10 August 2017
> Members of Iraq’s parliament have some questions about security contractors arriving in Iraq. They’re worried that notorious mercenary firm Blackwater has, more or less, made its way back to Iraq.

Are Mercenaries Really a Cheaper Way of War?  
The Atlantic|  09 August 2017
> Blackwater founder Erik Prince says privatizing the 16-year war could save taxpayer money. History, both recent and farther back, suggests a different outcome.

Gunmen kill two Afghan women contractors at air base near Kabul  
Reuters|  09 August 2017
> Two Afghan women working for a security firm searching people entering Bagram air base near the Afghan capital Kabul were killed on Wednesday and two others wounded by unknown gunmen, officials said.

Mercenaries aren’t a solution to Afghanistan’s forever war  
The Washington Post|  09 August 2017
> According to a number of reports, as well as Prince's own television appearances this week, the proposal involves close to 5,000 private military contractors replacing the U.S. troops currently deployed in support of Afghanistan's national security forces.

UK defence contractor billed US more than $50m in expenses  
The Guardian|  09 August 2017
> A British company hired to help train Afghan intelligence officers billed the US government for more than $50m (£38.4m) in expenses that included luxury cars and salaries paid to the “significant others” of the company’s top executives, according to a Pentagon audit.

Inside Erik Prince’s secret proposal to outsource the war in Afghanistan  
The Washington Post|  09 August 2017
> Businessman and Blackwater founder Erik Prince has been shopping around Washington a detailed proposal for replacing thousands of American soldiers in Afghanistan with contractors from foreign countries led by a “viceroy” with almost unfettered power over U.S. military and diplomatic policy.

Venezuela army repels attack on base, hunts 'mercenaries'  
The Straits Times|  08 August 2017
> Venezuela's military was hunting a group of "mercenaries" yesterday who made off with weapons after an attack on an army base carried out against what they called the "murderous tyranny" of President Nicolas Maduro. The 20 men, led by an army officer who had deserted, battled troops in the base in the country's third city of Valencia for three hours on Sunday, officials said.

Blackwater founder says contractors in Afghanistan wouldn't be mercenaries  
CBS|  08 August 2017
> Prince, now executive director of Frontier Services Group, joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss the plan that he says would cut the annual cost of the war from an estimated $45 billion to less than $10 billion.

Erik Prince offers private military force in Afghanistan  
The Financial Times|  07 August 2017
> Erik Prince, the world’s most infamous military contractor, wants his private military forces to give Afghanistan the same treatment he gave Iraq. In a document dated August 2017, parts of which have been seen by the Financial Times, he proposes a two-year plan for fewer than 5,000 global guns for hire and under 100 aircraft, bringing the total cost of the US effort to turn round a failing war to less than $10bn a year.

Venezuelan military says attack on army base by deserter and mercenaries has been repelled, leaving two dead  
South China Morning Post|  07 August 2017
> Two of the attackers were killed and eight were captured, President Nicolas Maduro said on state television, claiming the group of “mercenaries” – whose total number he put at around 20 – had ties to Colombia and the United States.

Erik Prince’s private air force in Afghanistan faces many legal hurdles  
The Military Times|  06 August 2017
> Erik Prince’s proposal to bridge the Afghanistan air force’s capability gaps with his own private air force faces a mountain of legal hurdles, government oversight, and raises new questions about private military companies operating in roles typically in the purview of nation states.

[AUDIO] Could A Private Air Force Replace U.S. Troops In Afghanistan?  
KUT 90.5 NPR|  04 August 2017
> A controversial proposal to bring American troops home from Afghanistan, replacing them with contractors, wouldn’t involve private citizens manning tanks or Humvees. Instead, they would fly military-style planes above the battlefield – amounting to a private air force. The proposal comes from Erik Prince, whose contacting firm Blackwater made headlines during the Iraq War.

Killed and dumped in wells: probe reveals horrors of Gambia's ex-regime  
Reuters|  04 August 2017
> When 52 West African migrants sneaked into Gambia from Senegal on July 21, 2005, they expected to meet a boat to ferry them to Spain, but instead they were arrested and put to death on the orders of then-president Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh, in power for more than two decades until he fled into exile earlier this year, had feared the migrants were mercenaries come to overthrow him.

Is It A Good Idea To Privatize The War In Afghanistan?  
Newsweek|  04 August 2017
> Several weeks ago Erik Prince, best known as the CEO of the Blackwater Corporation, wrote an op-ed arguing that the U.S. should privatize the war in Afghanistan. The outcry has been voluble. Commentators have highlighted the moral qualms associated with private armies, the propensity toward violence and warlordism of mercenary forces, and the conflicts of interest that could be inherent in such a plan.

U.S. Appeals Court Tosses Ex-Blackwater Guard's Conviction In 2007 Baghdad Massacre  
NPR|  04 August 2017
> A federal appeals court has thrown out the murder conviction of an ex-Blackwater security guard and ordered three others to be resentenced in connection with the 2007 massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. The high-profile incident called into question the role played by U.S. security contractors in Iraq.

Blackwater founder wants to boost the Afghan air war with his private air force  
The Navy Times|  03 August 2017
> Erik Prince, the former CEO of the private military company known as Blackwater, wants to step up the Afghan air war with a private air force capable of intelligence collection and close-air support, according to a recent proposal submitted to the Afghan government.

SitRep: McMaster Purges the NSC; Trump Furious With Generals Over Afghanistan  
Foreign Policy |  03 August 2017
> The former CEO of Blackwater is pitching the Afghan government on the idea of hiring him to set up a private air force for the country.

Russian losses in Syria jump in 2017, Reuters estimates show  
Reuters |  02 August 2017
> That tally over seven months exceeds the 36 Russian armed personnel and contractors estimated by Reuters to have been killed in Syria over the previous 15 months, indicating a significant rise in the rate of battlefield losses as the country's involvement deepens.

Australian government defends airport security after criticism by pilots  
The Guardian |  02 August 2017
> Pilots are also unconvinced about private contractors doing security screening rather than a government agency. They say these issues have been raised with the government in the past but were ignored.

Mercenaries may fight for US in Afghanistan  
The Times |  01 August 2017
> President Trump is considering a plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and replace them with private contractors as his administration struggles to agree on strategy to tackle one of America’s longest- running wars.

Being an Uber driver can be lethal  
CNET |  01 August 2017
> After clashes between taxi and Uber drivers, some of which turned deadly, the ride-hailing company hires a security force called Hi-Risk. It may not be enough.

<< Older News Reports Archive Main

Investigative Reports


African Defence Review

African Defence Review is a dynamic news organisation focused on African security. It provides the most detailed and comprehensive news and commentary of issues on the African continent.


Unloved but Needed: PMCs in Africa

Author: David Pfotenhauer
Publish Date:

 

In this article, the author finds that the seemingly insoluble dilemma of PMSCs in Africa is not because of PMSCs but because of a lack of imagination on the part of governments and regional bodies as to how to sustainably and effectively employ them. He also argues that the future of PMSCs in Africa will be contingent upon good governance with robust, strategically aligned frameworks that utilize PMSCs to cultivate, but not replace, security and military capabilities.

BBC Reports

The British Broadcasting Corporation is a publically funded news and entertainment company in the United Kingdom. The BBC produces daily news programs as well as in depth investigative reports.


Britain's Private War

Author: BBC Scotland
Publish Date:

 

In this documentary feature, the BBC investigates the British private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report examines both the companies who are contracted to provide security services and the individuals affected by improper practices in the field. 

BBC asked both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the private security firm G4S for a response to the program. 

  1. FCO's response
  2. G4S's response
The Center for Investigative Reporting

The Center for Investigative Reporting is a non-profit, non-partisan news organization based in Berkeley, California. The Center specializes in in-depth reporting on current issues.


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David Isenberg

Author and commentator David Isenberg frequently reports on PMSC issues, including almost daily entries on the Huffington Post.

Federal News Radio

Federal News Radio is a radio news station focused upon stories, news and analysis relevant for U.S. federal government agencies and those who do business with government agencies. It is non-partisan.


National Public Radio

National Public Radio (NPR) creates and distributes award-winning news, information, and music programming to a network of 959 independent stations.


Audio Report: I'm from the Private Sector and I am Here to Help

Author: Nancy Updike
Publish Date:

 

In this story on NPR program "This American Life," contributing editor Nancy Updike went to Iraq to try to figure out what it's like to be a private citizen working in the middle of a war zone. Among others, Updike interviews private security contractors guarding the Baghdad International Airport and others training Iraqi police forces.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker is a weekly print magazine dedicated to the arts, politics, current events and investigative journalism.


Invisible Army

Author: Sarah Stillman
Publish Date:

 

This New Yorker article is a profile of the service subcontract industry for the U.S. military. The article discusses the more than seventy thousand "third-country nationals" who work for the American military in war zones. The author details the reports by many TCNs that the conditions they are held in resemble indentured servitude, and also the subcontractors who appear to operate outside the law.

PBS

PBS is a private non-profit broadcaster in the United States. It primarily produces educational programming for children and documentary features for adults. 


Private Warriors

Author: PBS Frontline
Publish Date:

 

Frontline investigates the new world of private contractors servicing U.S. military supply lines, running U.S. military bases, and protecting U.S. diplomats and generals. In the video, FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith travels throughout Kuwait and Iraq to give viewers an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at companies like Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, and its civilian army. "Private Warriors" also explores a very different kind of contractor—the private world of security teams that work for firms like Blackwater, Aegis, and Erinys—that provide armed protection for U.S. government officials, government offices, military installations and even military commanders.

The website for the episode also contains comment from KBR, and documents uncovered and used during the investigation.

ProPublica

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.


Disposable Army: Civilian Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

Publish Date:

 

This investigation by Propublica explores the issues caused by the U.S. government's heavy reliance on civilian workers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The site features multiple articles, charts, and data on contractor injuries, insurance coverage, and other problems for civilian contractors working for the U.S. government.

The Washington Post

The Washington Post is the largest newspaper in the Washington, DC area and a central reporter on domestic policy issues in the United States. The post produces multiple investigative pieces each year that focus on different aspects of the U.S. government and its agencies.


Contractors Run U.S. Spying Missions in Africa

Author: Craig Whitlock
Publish Date:

 
Open PDF:
 

This article is part of a series in the Washington Post covering the U.S. expansion of its secret intelligence operations in Africa. The article describes the use of private contractors to conduct spying operations in Africa, specifically in Uganda. The missions are air surveillance, with contractors doing overflight operations on Uganda searching for the Lord's Resistance Army. Other articles in the series address the efforts of U.S.-hired and paid contractor to train the Ugandan army. 

Top Secret America

Author: Washington Post
Publish Date:

 

The Washington Post's Top Secret America project describes the huge national security buildup in the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The articles in this series and an online database on the website depict the scope and complexity of the government's national security program through interactive maps and other graphics. Every data point on the Web site is substantiated by at least two public records. At the private-sector level, The Post identified 1,931 companies engaged in top-secret work for the government.