Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Private Security Companies and Counterinsurgency Operations

22 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 3 Sep 2009

Ulrich Petersohn

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2009


The paper discusses whether Private Security Companies (PSCs) inhibit success in counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. Skeptics object that PSCs (1) are unreliable in a non-permissive COIN environment, (2) are grist to the insurgence mill as they employ aggressive tactics and alienating the population, (3) trigger credibility problems as they enjoyed impunity and (4) increase friction as they are not subordinated under the chain of command. Though many objections bear some substance, in neither case this means that PSCs need to be excluded from COIN operations. I argue that the problems were aggravated by the flawed COIN approach, the U.S. armed forces entertained prior to Iraq. Yet, parallel to the COIN learning process, the military also learned how to operate alongside armed contractors and how to integrate them. However, although some improvements were implemented, lessons learned have not yet been institutionalized and there is therefore a risk of running in the same problems in Afghanistan again.

Keywords: Private Security Companies, Counterinsurgency, Iraq

Suggested Citation

Petersohn, Ulrich, Private Security Companies and Counterinsurgency Operations (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN:

Ulrich Petersohn (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Paper statistics

Abstract Views