The Strategic Use of Military Contractors : American Commercial Military Service Providers in Bosnia and Liberia: 1995-2009

University dissertation from Helsinki : National Defence University

Abstract: Drawing from strategic theory, this study investigates the strategic roles of commercial companies providing military services, frequently referred to as private military companies.  Theoretically, the thesis analyzes how states organize its military capabilities in order to be able to wield power within the international system while empirically, it examines the character and role of commercial companies that provide military training services to the United States Government and partner nations. The reason for this rather instrumental and functional, rather than critical, approach is that this work is written within the discipline known as War Studies.Strategic theory is used first to logically organize the empirical findings in two case studies and then to develop an analytical framework with which the strategic roles of companies providing military services can be investigated.The analysis has been conducted using both new and hitherto unknown sources in the shape of interviews as well as previously classified telegrams, but also draws on previous research and other secondary sources.The main findings are that commercial companies have five typical strategic roles: first, they cloak the state by substituting traditional uniformed troops; second, they act as trailblazers by securing US influence in new regions and by breaking new ground by contributing to the build-up of new partners; third, they act as scene setters by preparing the ground for military exit out of a theater of operations or by facilitating inter-operability between foreign militaries and the US military; fourth, they can be used to infiltrate the security structures of foreign countries; fifth and finally, they can be used to provide offensive capabilities by providing either kinetic or cyber warfare effects. Another finding is that military service contracting is an important part of the US strategic culture.

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