International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe
Chapter 34: Solving the problem of men and masculinities in the private military and security industry
The private military and security company (PMSC) industry has seen rapid growth over the last 15 or so years, with the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 providing a clear impetus to its expansion, alongside wider trends to outsource public functions across an increasing number of sectors. Conceived of in its widest sense, the industry is estimated to be worth many billions of dollars, and it has a global presence, as it carries out a diversity of roles for non-governmental and governmental actors alike. Indeed, the industry now features as an unremarkable and routine feature of everyday life not least in regard to its involvement in more contentious militarized functions most likely to attract public interest. Prime amongst these is armed close protection (CP) of dignitaries and convoy protection of goods and materials in Iraq and Afghanistan. This leads the author to suggest that we might use private militarized and security company in place of the more widely used term indicated above when referring to those elements of the industry that employ the 5 per cent of armed contractors that have the highest profile. Armed contractors are seen by the public as particularly problematic, with the United States (US) company Blackwater frequently invoking the ‘mercenary’ moniker in light of their nefarious activities in Iraq, culminating in the shooting of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007.
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