In This Review

Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry

Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry
By Peter Singer
368 pp, Cornell University Press, 2003
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The unprecedented number of civilian contractors working closely with the U.S. military in Iraq has attracted considerable attention in recent months. But this development merely reflects a larger trend toward reliance on the private sector, including the increasing use of off-the-shelf technologies and a growing readiness to contract out support systems to civilians. In the most thorough analysis yet of this phenomenon, now worth some $100 billion a year globally, Singer acknowledges that this practice can improve efficiency in the military but also raises questions about the tensions between patriotism and the profit motive and the implications of having key personnel who approach danger differently than professional soldiers. Private companies are even taking on combat roles, and they often heavily influence developing-world conflicts, most notably in Africa -- although they do not always choose their clients with care.