Who Are the Private Military and Security Contractors? A Window to a New Profession

  • John Sibley Butler
  • Bryan Stephens
  • Ori Swed


Over the last few decades, private military and security companies (PMSCs) have publicly transformed from mercenaries to contractors in a process which legitimized heavy-handed use of PMSCs in military operations around the globe and fueled massive industry growth. Yet, despite their increasing importance in military affairs and foreign policy, we know next to nothing about the individual men and women who serve their country as military contractors in PMSCs. To fill this gap, this chapter provides a data-driven analysis of the individual private contractors working for major PMSCs. We provide descriptive information on the private contractor population by analyzing employee profiles and job histories for those employed by PMSCs in the last decade. We investigate a unique database of professional resumes from a leading online job search and social networking website, which consists of employees randomly sampled from eight of the major PMSCs in the industry. The analysis describes the demographics, military experience and ranking, and education backgrounds of these employees. Moreover, we contextualize our findings with prior literature and demographics on the current US active duty military personnel, military veterans, and the general adult population.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Sibley Butler
    • 1
  • Bryan Stephens
    • 2
  • Ori Swed
    • 3
  1. 1.The University of TexasAustinUSA
  2. 2.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Sociology, Anthropology, & Social WorkTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

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