And in many, perhaps even most cases, this is true. Although one might wonder why, if people with past military experience are so much more professional, why trade groups, such as IPOA, think part of their mission is to “promote high operational and ethical standards of firms active in the peace and stability operations industry.” Doesn’t the presumed virtue of past military experience already bring about higher standards?
In truth there has always been an element of unreality about the argument. One would never find military leaders saying about their troops, well, he’s a soldier or marine so I can just trust him. Military leaders understand that part of professionalism means constantly checking and double‐checking and training and retraining to ensure that people act the way you want them to. No officer would ever assume that once you achieve a certain degree of professionalism that it stays that way without continued effort.
But even if you accept the industry argument there is always one or even a few in the crowd who are an exception. And when you have literally hundreds of thousands of PMC working around the world it only takes a few screw-up’s to cause significant problems.
Consider Daniel Fitzimons, who worked for British PMC ArmorGroup. Last August, after just three days in Iraq on a third tour as a private security contractor since leaving the British army he killed two of his fellow guards in a drunken brawl.
And in December 2006 an off‐duty Blackwater employee, Andrew J. Moonen, who served previously in the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army, had been drinking heavily and tried to make his way into the “Little Venice” section of the Green Zone, which houses many senior members of the Iraqi government. He was stopped by Iraqi bodyguards for Adil Abdul‐Mahdi, the country’s Shi’ite vice president, and shot one of them, Raheem Khalif, who died from three gunshot wounds.
Are incidents like these just the inevitable death attributable to the fog of war? Or is there something more at work?
A recent article in Parameters, the journal of the U.S. Army War College took a look at this in its most recent issue. The article “Contractors as Military Professionals?” by Gary Schaub, Jr., assistant professor at the Air War College and Volker C. Franke, associate professor of conflict management at Kennesaw State University suggests that the military has a different view of what constitutes professionalism.