Defining Remote Warfare: The Rise of the Private Military and Security Industry

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The contractor has become a potent commercial surrogate for the state to conduct expeditionary operations across a global battlespace, defined here as the environment, factors and conditions which need to be understood to successfully apply combat power, protect a force or complete a mission. Private military and security companies (PMSCs) act as force multipliers that enhance the state’s ability to fight wars remotely. Contractors allow states to achieve military objectives overseas with enhanced discretion, plausible deniability and consequently lower political costs.
In the past two decades, Western states have developed an over-reliance on the market in certain areas such as logistics and the maintenance of high-tech weapons systems or IT infrastructure. Although contractors working for Western states only rarely provide armed services and do not provide combat or combat support services, they nonetheless offer essential military support functions without which Western states could not successfully execute military operations. Consequently, the market has established itself as a critical provider for Western militaries that have widely lost institutional knowledge and in-house capacity to commercial providers. Therefore, the industry has developed from a mere agent of the state to a partner that determines state capacity and capability.
In the non-Western world the industry has created security partnerships between the state and the PMSC market, which complement the state’s ability to provide public security. Here, PMSCs provide a range of armed services including combat and combat support services. The market enables these states to buy-in capability and capacity that they cannot domestically generate. With insufficient skilled capacity to conduct counterinsurgency or counterterrorist operations, non-Western states have externalized core military functions to commercial providers.
In light of the increased role of the market in shaping global security agendas, the adequate regulation of the market for force has become an ever more important issue. Although both Western and non-Western states are heavily dependent on contractors to effectively execute military operations overseas, the contractor remains able to evade effectively home, host or contracting state regulation and monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherOxford Research Group
Commissioning bodyOxford Research Group
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2018


  • Private Military and Security Companies
  • Remote Warfare
  • Surrogate Warfare


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