Outsourcing the Profession:

A look at Military Contractors and their Impact on the Profession of Arms

Marc O. Hedahl, Capt, USAF



This views expressed in this paper are solely those of it’s author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the US Air Force, or the Department of Defense.


This paper contains neither contains any classified information, nor was any classified information used to support its conclusions.



            At this point in the War in Iraq there are a handful of enduring images.  Perhaps the most memorable is the video of Iraqi nationals and U.S. troops toppling the statue of Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, there are also other lingering images that highlight not only the difficulties of the current occupation, but a new danger for the military profession as well.  The April 2004 front page pictures of four American bodies that had been abused and dragged through the streets of Fallujah brought light on a new reality in warfare.  For these men were not soldiers like those who saw a similar fate in Mogadishu a decade earlier.  These men were employees.  They worked for a company called Blackwater USA, and their deaths made public the new role private military firms (PMFs) play in combat.[1]

  Perhaps the other lasting images from the War in Iraq come from Abu Graib.  Although the infamous pictures are all of servicemen and women involved in human rights abuses, the final report written by Lt Gen Anthony Jones and Maj Gen George Fay concluded that the use of private contractors as not only translators but interrogators were a key part of the problem.[2]   Both of these sets of images have brought private military contractors, in functions as varied as cooking and laundry to interrogations and security into sharp focus.  Military contracting is, of course, not a new phenomenon. While past militaries were self-contained with soldiers on KP duty and sailors swabbing the decks, we now depend on a vast support network of civilians to help feed, clothe, and equip, our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen. With the introduction of high-tech equipment, contractors are even more widespread.  Many maintenance units are going the way of KP duty as the U.S. military uses more and more contractors to troubleshoot its high-tech equipment.  In fact, it’s no longer uncommon to see scores of civilians roaming on an Air Craft Carrier while it’s conducting combat operations, a phenomenon unheard of twenty or thirty years ago.

What is even more novel and troublesome in Iraq is the extent to which these contractors appear to be conducting combat operations, rather than the support functions they have performed recently.[3]  The Washington Post reported in April 2004 that contractors are even “fighting their own battles with their own weapons, helicopters, and intelligence networks.”[4] This shift raises a number of problems for the U.S. government that military leaders are only now beginning to consider. Their primary concern appears to be how to control these contractors and ensure that their actions under fire further the national interest.[5]  But, I believe there is a larger issue for the profession of arms as well.  In this paper will attempt to argue:

1.      The economic argument in favor of outsourcing is often misguided.

2.       The core military function of fighting for and establishing peace should never be outsourced because of the acute damage done to the profession of arms and the society it serves.

3.      If other functions (e.g. logistics support) are outsourced, we need to vastly improve both the way those contractors are incorporated into the military structure and the way those contracts are managed  



1.0 Why Outsourcing is increasing

The Army has seen its expenses for service contracts go from less than a quarter of its total budget only a few years ago to more than a third for Fiscal Year 2004.  In Iraq alone there are more than 20,000 private contractors representing over 80 different companies working for the US government.[6] So why is the military profession turning to outsourcing in a way that was unheard of even ten to fifteen years ago?  It appears that there are four primary causes: the size of the military, the ease of outsourcing, the role of technology in modern warfare, and a mindset that private is better.  

1.1 Size of the Military

            The first reason that we see a dramatic increase in outsourcing involves the size of the military itself.  In 1989 the total size of the U.S. armed forces was 2.1 Million Active Duty Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen, a fairly consistent number throughout the decades of the 1980’s.   The total force structure including the Guard and Reserves was 3.2 Million.  In 1991 during the First Gulf War, the Post-Cold war cuts had been agreed to, but for the most part, they had not yet taken effect.   Less than 150,000 net servicemen had been released and in FY 1991 the total Active Duty size of the US Armed Forces was 2 Million and a total force structure of 3.1 Million.  After the Gulf war, however, the total force numbers decreased dramatically.  By 1995, there were only 1.5 Million Active Duty Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines and a Total Force Structure of 2.4 Million.[7]  Although there was some more minor movement of forces from the Active Duty Ranks to the Reserve and Guard, these numbers stayed fairly constant through FY 2003.[8]  So, in effect our armed forces have had more than a 35% reduction in force size over the last 15 years.  Although “doing more with less” was a too often repeated phase in the 1990’s, in this decade we are discovering that even clichés have their limits.

1.2 Oversight Requirements

            The second reason that the military is hiring more private contractors to do jobs that had been traditionally accomplished within the military is that it is simply easier to do so.  This is similar to the reason that many private companies turn to vendors or sub-contractors.  Often times it would simply take too long or not be as efficient to manage something in house as it would be to pay someone else to do the work.  In the case of the U.S. military, however, there is even further incentive.  End Strength numbers mandated by Congress must be met, training requirements must be strictly adhered to and tracked, etc.  Nearly every action that the U.S. takes regarding its personnel requires some sort of tracking and oversight because of Congressional Regulations, Executive Orders, and U.S. Laws.  For private contractors, however, none of these same requirements are present. The only requirement that has to be managed is the total cost.  Often, the military does not even know how many individuals are going to be working on a particular effort within a larger contract.

1.3 Technology, “Private is better”

            The third reason that outsourcing is occurring involves the role of technology in the way the US fights modern warfare.  The US is becoming more reliant on technology, and we are increasingly relying on Commercial Off the Self (COTS) technology.  This means that more and more frequently the military is relying on contractors to maintain and sometimes even operate the technological systems they develop.   Patriot missiles, Joint STARS, and even Apache helicopters are just some of the systems that have seen a dramatic increase in the number of private contractors involved in the day-to-day life of the weapon system after it has been declared operational. [9] A fourth and final cause of the increase in outsourcing is an increasing belief that private is both cheaper and better.  Free markets are believed to create superior goods at a cheaper cost, so it is believed that private companies can usually provide services for the government cheaper and more efficiently than they could themselves.


2.0 Why outsourcing is problematic

Outsourcing is certainly increasing at a dramatic rate, but that in and of itself is not troubling.  The initial results of these contractors, however, are cause for concern.  Although it is only one example, it may be helpful to note that 50% of interrogators at Abu Grabe at the time of the abuses were private contractors; 36% of the proven abuse incidents involved private contractors, and 35 % of those contract interrogators have not had any formal military training. [10]  It is also concerning that the contractors involved in documented cases of abuse at Abu Grabe are apparently not subject to any laws. They are not subject to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), they are not subject to the still ill defined laws of Iraq, and because they were hired using an existing Interior Department contract and not a Defense Department contract, they are apparently not subject to the laws of the United States.[11]  The lack of accountability, however, is far from the only issue raised by contractors: they operate under a separate oversight structure without any unified chain of command; they often have different training and equipment than U.S. or even Coalition Forces; and, they use different intelligence and communication procedures than the soldiers with whom they are working. 

Some may try to universalize the issue and argue that military outsourcing is always a bad idea.  Yet upon some reflection there appear to be many benign instances of outsourcing.  The military has never developed and produced its own weapons, and there seems to be no monetary or professional reason to change that relationship with private industry.  Furthermore, if stateside military installations decide to hire companies to complete building construction, grounds maintenance, custodial duties, and food preparation, then they would seem to be making good use of their resources more often than not.

It seems that there are, however, three reasons that one might regard a particular act of outsourcing a bad idea.  The most frequently discussed reasons are economic.  If it were more expensive to outsource a particular function, there would be one good reason not to do it.   However, the ultimate goal of our military is not merely to be as cost effective as possible, so one could also argue that a particular type of outsourcing is problematic because of other direct consequences on the military mission.  For example, one could argue that although it may be more cost effective to outsource certain military logistical functions, the impact to military effectiveness makes this a bad policy.  Finally, one could argue that a particular act of outsourcing was misguided because of the long-term impacts to the profession of arms itself.[12]

Given these potential objections, it seems important that military professionals get involved with the debate about outsourcing.  While most of us may not be economic experts, we are knowledgeable professionals and we need to play a central role in delineating the limits of the profession.  In effect, we must take the lead in determining what functions need to remain within the military profession because of the impacts to the profession of arms if they do not.  We also need to help clarify the cost benefit analysis of outsourcing functions that are not central to the profession of arms (e.g. logistical support, acquisition support).  In effect, we need to make clear to the civil authorities if they decide to outsource certain responsibilities what other actions need to be taken to ensure mission success.

2.1 Economic issues

First, I will examine the economic issues.  Economic arguments are, after all, the most frequent discussed, perhaps because money is often the determining factor in many of these decisions. Before discussing the economic issues, however, I need to highlight two important points.  First, there will be several instances (e.g. food services) where outsourcing not only saves money, but provides a better product as well.  Second, the economic issues are not the expertise of military professionals in general or this military officer in particular.  Nonetheless, it is important to point out that the increasing belief since the 1990’s that private is better rests on the assumption that free-market capitalism is operating. This assumption, however, is often unfounded; there are several relevant dissimilarities.  First, free market capitalism requires a competitive environment, yet over the last 5 years over 40% of DoD contracts have been sole source single bidder contracts.  Second, free markets rely on numerous customers, yet the military in particular or the government in general is often the only customer.  Finally free market capitalism rests on the assumption that consumers cannot pass on economic inefficiencies, but the military can pass these losses to the federal government and eventually the taxpayers.[13]  In other words, there is not the same market incentive to require utmost efficiency.    Because of these facts, it seems reasonable to assume that outsourcing will most likely provide a cheaper and better solution when these differences are minimized (e.g. food service, computer support), and less likely to do so when these differences are maximized (e.g. as a replacement or augmentation for one of the army’s Heavy Infantry Divisions).

2.2 Professional issues

However, as I noted earlier it is the professional and consequential issues that those of us in the military are best suited to consider, so I will spend the remainder of the discussion on those issues.  Now, the most fundamental reason one could argue against a particular act of outsourcing would be because of the impact that action would have on the profession itself.  Any organization that is contemplating outsourcing needs to first and foremost think about their own core functions that should never be outsourced  This is true in any industry but it takes on special importance when we are talking about a profession that is considering outsourcing duties to members outside their profession.   A few examples may help illustrate this point.  For instance, there is a risk when members of a company disclose proprietary sales numbers to an outside consultant.  This risk would count as a good consequential reason not to hire a consultant for this purpose.  It is important to note, however, that that is merely a risk to be weighed in the over-all cost benefit analysis.  There will be many cases in which the expertise gained from outsourcing is worth the risk.  There is no foundational and irrevocable damage done to the occupation of being a salesman in the unlikely occurrence that this information is leaked to a competitor.  In fact the very notion of such a harm being done to an occupation is almost nonsensical.  Compare this case with a hospital that is considering exposing outside researchers to client information.  Here, there is not merely an issue of consequential value but an issue for the medical profession itself, since patient confidentiality is one of the tenants of the medical profession.[14]  This is not to say that this action cannot be taken, merely that there is more to consider, and in effect more to risk when we are discussing a profession and not merely an occupation.

  There are of course two different usages of the term ‘profession’.  The more common usage of the term refers to a vocation requiring some sort of specialized knowledge.[15]  There is, however, a much more robust meaning of the term.  A profession in this more complete sense must have sole responsibility for a given function, it must have a code of ethics or a code of unacceptable behavior, and it must be internally responsible to reprimand those who fall to meet the standards of the profession. [16]  Salesmen and women can be professional in the more common use of the term; the medical and legal professions are two examples of professions in the more robust sense of the term.  These are activities where the function is extremely important to a society, where not only is special training required, but a higher or at the very least specialized and functional code of ethics is required as well.[17]

So while it be troubling for members of a company to see many of their responsibilities outsourced to those with similar skill sets or training; it is devastating to a profession to allow those outside of the profession to conduct the core function that had been the exclusive domain of the professionals who are selected, trained, and disciplined internal to the profession.  When HMO’s can dictate what treatment a patient receives, it is not only dangerous because people may sometimes get a sub-optimal treatment.[18]  After all, people sometimes get sub-optimal treatment because of policy decisions put in place at hospitals.[19]  In the case where those outside of the medical profession (i.e. doctors and nurses) are dictating care, however, there are much more serious and fundamental long-term consequences.  We have in effect damaged the profession itself.  We have torn it apart from inside.  The medical profession was created in order to improve society.  There are numerous unseen and possibly unknowable advantages to the existence of a medical profession that we are undermining with this brand of outsourcing.  

2.2.1 Danger to the military profession

Now, some may initially believe that private contractors will never reach the level of infringing on the core function of the military profession itself, but those beliefs may have already have been proven to be naïve.  While the ratio of private contractors to soldiers in the first Gulf War was one to one hundred, the ratio just before the invasion of Iraq was already less than ten to one.  Within the first year of operations, over fifty contractors were killed in Iraq, and over 300 wounded a greater causality toll than any ally, including the British. 

Of course, percentages and the casualty toll cannot provide complete insight to the problem particularly in today’s 360-degree battlefield. Although there may be some concerns in oversight, there is probably no more harm in outsourcing KP duty to private companies than there is Hospitals outsourcing their cafeterias, there are certainly some functions that outsourcing would harm irrecoverably.  And, private contractors are not merely washing clothing, building housing, and serving meals. They are driving supply trucks through unsecured areas of Iraq and they are integrators. They are private security officers who openly carry arms responsible for the protection of numerous American officials, military installations, and supply conveys. [20]  They were even responsible for the security of Coalition Provision Authority Head Paul Bremer.[21]  Perhaps most disturbing are reports of security contractors fighting their own battles when the people and things they are protecting come under attack.[22]  

2.2.2 The foundation of the profession

The argument most frequently provided in favor of these security officers is that they do not infringe upon the core military function because they are merely providing security similar to private security officers throughout the world.  We have private security personnel protecting business in dangerous countries and government buildings within the United States.  These security personnel do not infringe upon the central function because they are not infantrymen, but merely security officers.  

 In order to respond to this argument perhaps the most important task is to discuss briefly what exactly the central function of the military profession is.  While some may initially think that it is merely putting oneself in danger for the betterment of the nation-state, this cannot be correct.  For, in today’s society nearly all members of the government and many others as well do to this to some degree or another.  It has to be a difference in quality and not merely quantity that sets the military apart. Sir Hackett famously argued that the core function was the management of violence in the service of the state.[23]  This is certainly true, but to be more precise it is not just any violence, but rather combat for which the soldier is the expert.  It is precisely his or her possibility to engage in combat, or more precisely, the capability to become a lawful combatant that sets the soldier apart.  So, we may not require the US Department of Transportation in Washington DC to be protected by soldiers. We may not require the security of every private company in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to be guarded by soldiers. It seems reasonable, however, to claim that any person involved in security operations for the US government in an area in which it is reasonable to believe they may become combatants need to be US servicemen and women. It is the potential to become lawful combatants and the reasonable expectation to be treated as such that separates the profession of arms.  Therefore, the military profession needs to insist that any private contractors engaged in security operations that may foreseeable involve combat should be eliminated.  Furthermore, any private contractors in areas like Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. that work directly for the US Government (i.e. not private security for businesses) should be unarmed.

2.3 Other consequential issues

These contractors, however, are only a percentage of the more than 20,000 serving in Iraq and the hundreds of thousands serving worldwide.  As previously noted we need to consider a more complete cost benefit analysis of outsourcing functions that are not central to the profession of arms (e.g. logistical support, acquisition support, intelligence).  I cannot provide an investigation of each of these functions but a quick investigation would help illustrate the point.  For example, if logistical contractors are continued to be used, then we need to radically alter how those contracts are managed in order to manage our mission effectively.  We do not have sufficient oversight directly managing these contracts.  There are currently only 14 people managing the greater than $18B of private contracts in Iraq.[24]  The private contractors would also need to be fully integrated into the military support structure.  We would need to train with them and we would need to use the same communication and intelligence networks.  Furthermore, there would need to be an unambiguous and expeditious way to hold contractors responsible for their actions.  Finally we would need to track them and justify the private contractor personal in the same way that we do for those in the armed forces.  In effect, our end strength needs to reflect all the support contracts we need to get the job done so we know that jobs are outsourced because they can do the task done more effectively and efficiently and not merely because the reporting becomes more expedient.[25] 

More support here

3.0 Impacts

             The reports of contractors participating in combat and abuse of prisoners are troubling. They are even disturbing when we realize the full impacts of these actions.  Particular acts of outsourcing can be merely unnecessarily expensive, or worse they can lead to dysfunction.   Both of these effects, however troubling, can be avoided or at least mitigated by better management and integration.  However, the negative impacts to a profession of outsourcing the core function of that profession is perhaps the most troubling and least discussed aspect of outsourcing.  Furthermore, the differences between the military profession and other professions merely only serve to augment those disturbing impacts.   

3.1 Uniqueness of the military profession

In fact the impact of outsourcing of the military profession is even more problematic than the outsourcing in other professions.  For, while there are significant negative impacts to the medical profession and the society it serves when those outside the profession practice medicine, there are even greater impacts when those outside the profession of arms are allowed to be soldiers.  There are two reasons for this.  The first involves the nature of the right involved in the each profession.  While medical treatment may be a right, it is at best a right that can be limited at times, either by my inability to provide care or the rights of others.  The exercise of triage is perhaps the best example that even if I have a right to healthcare, that right has limits that are frequently reached by the ability of others to provide that care.  The types of rights that a non-combatant possesses (e.g. the right not to be tortured, the right not to be raped, the right not to be used as a mere means to win the war) are far more fundamental; and if they are limited at all, those limits are reached in only those most extreme circumstances. [26] Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that the practice of medicine by those not trained in or more importantly held responsible by the medical profession would have a less severe impact on the rights of innocent than similar actions undertaken by those outside the profession of arms. 

3.2 Nobility of the military profession

Perhaps more importantly, however, is the role the former professionals would take on without the existence of the profession itself. The point of the medical profession is to restore health, an intrinsically valuable activity. Therefore, the role of individual doctors would still be noble without the existence of the profession.  They would dedicate their days to some activity necessary to try to help people become healthier.  A woman with CPR training struggling to save a victim on the side of the road may not be a medical professional, but her actions are clearly morally praiseworthy.  The point of the military profession, however, is warfare, a job that often involves both the intentional deaths of combatants as well as the deaths of countless innocents.  These are actions that if they have any value at all must have some great extrinsic worth, because they by themselves great tragedies.  For war, as Walzer reminds us, is worse than Hell, for in Hell at least in Hell there is total and complete discrimination. [27]  At least in Hell, we play no direct part in its creation; we are all brother and sisters in suffering.  In war, however, we are the architects as well as the inhabitants of a land where the innocent suffer along with the guilty.

Therefore, the nobility of soldiers, if there is any at all, must be found something other than their direct actions.    The place that is most frequently cited is the war itself or the greater cause. The problem with this justification is that soldiers would only be involved in noble actions when their cause was just.  When their cause was unjust, they would not merely be ignoble; they would be some of the most contemptible criminals.  To use Walzer’s example, soldiers who followed jus in bello principles within an unjust war would become no better than a bank robber who will only shoot the bank guards but not the patrons. [28]    Therefore, the possible nobility of soldiers cannot lie with the war itself.   

Yet Walzer and others claim that when soldier’s fight the war is not their crime.[29]  Even if you believe that moral culpability for an unjust war of soldiers is only mitigated, this claim can only make sense with  the military profession as a foundation.  If we can see even the slightest hint of dignity in Rommel fighting the worst of wars in the best of ways, it is due solely to the possible nobility of the military profession itself. The profession of arms exists for the protection of the state and in its noblest times the protection of the rights of others as well.  If we are to serve a state we cannot choose our wars.   “If the subjects cannot serve in the war except they are first satisfied of its justice the state would fall into grave peril.”[30]  Even the most noble of states has the potential to engage in unjust wars.  If soldiers are as responsible for the sins of our state as they are for their sins on the battlefield than the mere possibility of an unjust war would appear to make joining the military an immoral decision.  We would have to even condemn career soldiers who fight in just wars, for the choice they have control over, joining the military, is nonetheless immoral.  The choice they do not, and cannot practically speaking, have control over is what wars their country will fight. Even this accident of a just war cannot retroactively make their choice to join the military praiseworthy or even acceptable.

This is why the possible degradation of the military profession is so problematic.  The line between noble calling and immoral occupation is not a fine one but it is supported only by the existence of the profession of arms.  If the state ever hires contractors to fight its wars the way they do to build their tanks, then they would become much like the man who joins a revolution, morally culpable for not  jus in bello but jus ad bellum as well.   It is important to note, however, that this would not be merely true of the members of a PMF, but any of their “regular” forces as well. A profession in the most robust sense of the term can only exist if it is solely responsible for the execution of its core function as well as the training and discipline of those members who fail to live up to the higher ideals that the profession demands.  Although the actions of one or two isolated individuals outside the profession do not undermine the profession, the members within the military can no longer call themselves part of the profession of arms if they become only a piece of the battle plan.

3.3 Mercenaries vs. soldiers

            Now some may object that the use of contractors in war conducting security and minor hostilities is as devastating to the profession as I have argued.  They may note that professional soldiers have often fought alongside mercenaries; in fact professional officers were often put in charge of them in the 18th and 19th centuries.  If we continue to use military contractors in security roles in which they could see combat, however, we find ourselves on the horns of a dilemma that gets more and more problematic as their numbers increase.   We are left with two options. First, we could broaden the scope of the profession of arms to include these PMFs by making training and punishment consistent, and bring them within the unified chain of command.  We could become, in effect, like our 18th and 19th century brethren.  There are, however, several reasons why this seems like a bad idea.  We would have to create a new training regiment, a new accountability system, and integrate these contractors into a unified chain of command.   These changes would be so dramatic from the way contractors currently operate that I wonder if there would be any benefit to continue outsourcing these functions. Furthermore, there is the very real possibility of damage to the morale of our troops when the contractors they are fighting alongside have better equipment and get paid significantly better. [31] The Outsourcing can also negatively impact the ability to retain crucial, skilled personnel within the military itself.  For example, there are reportedly more former British Special Forces soldiers working for PMFs in Iraq than in the entire British Armed Services.[32] 

There are even more severe consequences, however, if we let PMFs operate independently of the military professionals within our nations military.  We have similar issues of moral and retention. In addition, the negative consequence of the breakdown in a cohesive battle plan when you have in essence two groups fighting along side each other using separate communications systems are even  troubling .    Furthermore, these contractors cannot be considered “lawful combatants” under the 3rd Geneva Convention so long as they remain outside of a unified chain of command working directly for the state.[33]   Worst of all, we have ripped the profession apart.  We have fractured our training, our accountability, and our ethical  codes. I do not believe that the crisis has yet reached the point where talk of the military profession is meaningless, but I know that we cannot fight alongside and independently of  large numbers of mercenaries for extended periods of time without becoming mercenaries ourselves, not because of the effect that their actions will have on ours, but merely because their existence destroys the ability for the profession to exist at all.  If we ever reach such a point, our uniforms, our medals, and even our codes of honor truly will become nothing more than anachronistic window dressing.

3.4 “Once a Marine”

            Some may offer a final objection by pointing to a similar situation of acceptable outsourcing within the medical profession.  If a doctor retires from his job as a surgeon, she may join a private firm that the hospital hires to make policy decisions about future patient care.  Surely this action is acceptable because she is after all, still a doctor.  Although she has left her position as a surgeon, “Once a doctor, always a doctor”.  In a similar manner, “Once a Marine, always a Marine”.  If former Marines go to work for PMF’s there’s no more harm than if a former Doctors go to work for consulting firms.  After all, he’s still been trained in the laws of Armed Combat.  He has the same experience, perhaps even more, than the current Marines with whom he’s fighting.

            There are, however, two important differences between these two cases.  The most important difference involves the key traits of the two professions, in this case accountability and chain of command.  In the case of the Doctor, she is still considered a doctor for discipline purposes by both the Medical Boards and the laws of the state when she is acting within the core function of the medical profession.   In other words, she is still held accountable as a doctor when she makes decisions about patient care.  The same, however, cannot be said for the former Marine.  He clearly is not held accountable for his actions as a combatant under UCMJ.  Furthermore, the former Marine no longer operates as part of a unified chain of command in service of the state, another key component of the military profession.  The doctor is in the very real sense still a doctor while working for the consulting firm; the Marine, however, can no longer be a Marine while working for a PMF.

Furthermore, even if this was not the case, there is no requirement that the PMFs hire only former members of the US or Commonwealth forces.  While Blackwater USA, the company for which the four men killed in Fallujah worked, started out employing only former members of the US Armed Forces, primarily former members of Special Forces, a booming market has forced it to look to other labor sources as well.  The company reports that 30% of its current labor force lacks formal military training.[34]  So it seems that we cannot continue to allow PMFs to complete security duties in areas where they are likely to see combat-like hostilities and maintain the integrity of the military profession.

In the post-Vietnam era, the military profession went through what some considered a crisis.  The justification for the war was questionable and victory denied, but it was the lack of military professionalism of a handful of servicemen and women more than any other factor that caused the American military to rededicate itself to the profession of arms.  Today the profession may not yet be in crisis, but it and its nobility are at the very least in danger of being sold to the lowest bidder.



[1] Singer, Peter W. “Warriors for Hire in Iraq”, Salon.com, April 15, 2004.

[2] Singer, Peter W., “The Contract the military Needs to Break” The Washington Post, September 12, 2004.

[3] Carter, Phillip “Hired Guns: What to do about military contractors run amok”, Slate.com, April 9, 2004. 

[4]Priest, Dana and Mary Pat Flaherty Under Fire, Security Firms Form An Alliance, Washington Post,  April 8, 2004. 

[5] Carter, Phillip Hired Guns: What to do about military contractors run amok, Slate.com, April 9, 2004. 

[6] Mullen, Richard “Pentagon Needs better Contract Oversight” Defense Today, November 9, 2004.

[7] Perry, William J., Secretary of Defense, Annual Report to the President and Congress, February 1995.

[8] Rumsfeld, Donald H., Secretary of Defense, Annual Report to the President and Congress, 2004.

[9] Mullen, Richard “Pentagon Needs better Contract Oversight” Defense Today, November 9, 2004.

[10] ibid

[11] ibid

[12] I realize here that the difference between negative direct consequences and impact to the profession may well be a difference of quantity and not quality.  It may, therefore, be hard to draw a sharp line between these two categories.  For instance, one could make the argument that a Hospital or Military outsourcing its cafeteria has professional implications since both professions care about the physical well-being of their soldiers and patients.  Nonetheless, that difference seems important enough to merit treating them as separate types of arguments.  A law firm outsourcing its file maintenance duties to temps should not be merely as problematic as if they were outsourcing their legal counsel to those not admitted to the bar, regardless of how competent and educated in the law those they hire may be.

[13] Mullen, Richard “Pentagon Needs better Contract Oversight” Defense Today, November 9, 2004.

[14] Carter, Phillip “Hired Guns: What to do about military contractors run amuck” Slate.com, April 9, 2004. 

[15] The Oxford American Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus.  Second Edition.  Berkley Books, New York, 2001

[16] Hackett, Sir John Winthrop, "The Military in the Service of the State," in War Morality, and the Military Profession, 2d Ed, ed; Malham M. Wakin (Boulder: Westview Press, 1986), 119. ; Malham M. Wakin, "The Ethics of Leadership: I," and "The Ethics of Leadership: II" in War Morality, and the Military Profession, 191, 208, passim.

[17] Hackett, Sir John Winthrop, "The Military in the Service of the State," in War Morality, and the Military Profession, 2d Ed, ed; Malham M. Wakin (Boulder: Westview Press, 1986), 119. ; Malham M. Wakin, "The Ethics of Leadership: I," and "The Ethics of Leadership: II" in War Morality, and the Military Profession, 191, 208, passim. 

[18] a consequentially bad effect but one that could be outweighed by some other positive consequence, for example if more people are treated under this system

[19] For example, people with less serious symptoms are often seen by people with less training or expertise.  While their treatment is not designed to be optimal, it is designed to be adequate; and the treatment of all patients is supposed to be optimized.)

[20] Council on Foreign Relations.  Iraq: Iraq Military Outsourcing”, crf.org, May 20, 2004.; Singer Peter W.  “Warriors for Hire in Iraq  Salon.com; April 15, 2004.

[21] Singer, Paul W.  “Warriors for Hire in Iraq

[22] Carter, Phillip Hired Guns: What to do about military contractors run amok, Slate.com,  April 9, 2004. 

[23] Hackett, Sir John Winthrop, "The Military in the Service of the State," in War Morality, and the Military Profession, 2d Ed, ed;

[24] Mullen, Richard “Pentagon Needs better Contract Oversight” Defense Today, November 9, 2004.

[25] Intelligence would be another area with large direct consequential concerns as well as some professional concerns as well.  Interrogators in particular are problematic because of the potential for jus in bello violations.

[26] I’m thinking of Walzer’s Supreme Emergency or some other similar criterion for extreme and rare cases in which these rights can be overridden.

[27] Walzer, Michael.  Just and Unjust Wars.  Third Edition.  Basic Books, New York, New York,             1977,  p. 128.pp. 30

[28] Walzer, Michael.  Just and Unjust Wars.  Third Edition.  Basic Books, New York, New York,             1977,  p. 128.

[29] Ibid p.37

[30] Ibid p.39

[31] Private contractors are reported paid 2 to 10 times more than their military brethren.  Furthermore, I would be surprised if body armor shops have sprung up outside the headquarters of Blackwater USA the way four have opened up in the last three years outside of Camp Pendleton Marine Base in Southern California.

[32] Singer, Peter W. “Warriors for Hire in Iraq”, Salon.com, April 15, 2004.

[33] Carter, Phillip Hired Guns: What to do about military contractors run amok, Slate.com,  April 9, 2004. 

[34] Singer, Peter W.  “Warriors for Hire in IraqSalon.com, April 15, 2004