Good governance in the conflict of armed forces and private security companies

Hermann Jung/Edwin R. Micewski


Whereas private security and military companies operated far away from media floodlights in the past, they have found themselves in the limelight of public interest since the fatal incidents of 16th September 2007, when 17 Iraqi civilians where shot dead in broad daylight by a private security detail of the private security company Blackwater. What private military companies do, how they act, and which legal, military and political consequences the employments of modern mercenary formations have, is increasingly becoming a topic of security-political discussions. Incidents like that caused by Blackwater in Iraq have caused the debate concerning the taking over of military tasks by civilian security companies to become strongly polarized, ideologically influenced, and characterized by prejudice on both sides - in the military as well as in the civilian society. The range goes from radical rejection of civilian infiltration into hereditary military tasks on the one hand, to lasting attempts at driving back military organisations with their security-political importance by favouring civilian, non-governmental forces on the other hand. In the context of the change of paradigms concerning the understanding of security politics, of the new challenges and tasks of armed forces, the massive changes in their organisational structure and strength, of the ever-increasing influence of non-governmental organisations, and of a market for security enterprises which is getting more and more lucrative, a fight for influence and resources has developed recently. This struggle for resources did not only often lead to disadvantageous developments when concretely coping with security-political challenges, but it sometimes also rendered the both national and international demand on the politically responsible leaders, which is circumscribed with the term “good governance” in the topical political-scientific discussion, difficult or even impossible. This paper aims at analyzing the connection between “good governance” under the conditions of an increasingly internationalized security-political environment characterized by asymmetrical threat and humanitarian challenges, and the inherent conflicts between regular armed forces and private security enterprises, and at demonstrating both the possibilities and necessities of successful cooperation between military and civilian organisations. As a matter of fact one will have to take into consideration the irrevocable privatization of security by integrating private security companies into existing organisations of civil-military cooperation (concerning both training and real deployment management) on the one hand, and by legally binding these organisations and their members to both international rules of engagement and to those issued especially for the particular mission on the other hand.