Part of the New Security Challenges book series (NSECH)


Chapter 1 highlights a puzzle. On the one hand, the range of private military and security services is ostensibly boundless for a number of reasons. On the other hand, it is evident that in practice, there are divisions between states and Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) in terms of what they do and what they own and operate. This is clear on land, on the waves, and in the air. Firms do not enjoy a tabula rasa. Thus, because of the significance of these matters – the ownership, direction, and application of violence – this chapter spells out the book’s primary objectives: to develop an understanding of what has changed, what has not, why this is so, and what the future might bring. It stresses that achieving these objectives is in large part anchored in identifying and explaining the functional and ideational boundaries regarding what states and PMSCs both do and possess in regards to violence. This chapter identifies that to complete these tasks, one must focus on two related elements. The first element is the conventional forces norm, one that has global acceptance in terms of the standardization of the organizational form for militaries and the weighting on sophisticated military technology – i.e., machines – over labour or manpower. Functional and symbolic rationales support this norm. The second element is the state proclivity towards the offensive. Taken together, states very much form what the PMSC industry looks like and offers: predominantly labour-based services oriented towards the defensive.


Private Military And Security Companies (PMSCs) Sophisticated Military Technology Conventional Military Power Developing World States Cyber Power 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Defence StudiesRoyal Military College of Canada/Canadian Forces CollegeTorontoCanada

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