Private Armies

Private Armies

2007, Military and War  -   25 Comments
Ratings: 7.51/10 from 93 users.

Private Armies gives viewers an inside look at the workings of private military firms, including those they employ, how they operate, and how they are funded. The audience is privy to the training regimens required for private security officials, from arms management to demolition derby-like vehicular maneuvers.

The film opens in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. A common target for terrorist attacks it is also the main operating grounds for many private military companies. The filmmakers don bullet-proof vests and go for a ride-along with a British security firm, receiving directions on response techniques in the event of an assault as they head towards a private military training camp outside of the city. Although travelling in an armored vehicle, the risk of encountering a booby-trap courtesy of the Taliban is very real. "Now I have a job I can do outside of the military," one of their guides offers as an explanation for his death-defying vocation. But another factor is revealed as well; the average monthly salary of an Executive Officer in the private sector is three times that of the formal military - a strong influence in making such a career choice.

A representative of the United Nations Disarmament Committee explains that the international community including Europe, the United States and Japan generally finances the private security services provided by independent military firms. Companies such as London's Armor Group, Europe's leading privately owned military company, have grown significantly post-9/11, employing more than 10,000 people in 38 different companies across the world. A nondescript corporate office like any other, Armor Group essentially functions as a militaristic temp agency, providing security forces to countries during times of conflict.

In a rare exception to the norm, notorious American securities firm Blackwater - a subsidiary of the neoconservative Prince Group - opens its doors to the film crew, granting access to the world's largest training center where "even door handles are replaced by machine guns." In contrast to the previous interview subjects, one Blackwater operative passionately explains that the paycheck is secondary to the belief that the work they do is deeply important. One woman, however, questions if the firm can be trusted and whether her son's death while on a Blackwater mission is being exploited in the name of patriotism to bolster the firm's brand.

Expository and concerning, Private Armies explores the purpose of private military firms while leading viewers to question the regulations of these firms, and evaluate the benefits or risks they may bring to the nations they become involved with.

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25 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Mark Taha

    You've heard of freelance journalists - these men are just freelance soldiers. Surely hiring these volunteers is more moral than conscription?

  2. Supremacy

    Understandable why a country would use outsourced military. Using national military comes with alot legal entaglement, public opinion, political implications etc. Public doesn´t care about the deaths of security forces, their methods unless their public and failures dont reflect badly on any country. National military is all nice when working in the white but these mercs are useful for grey area stuff.

  3. TheUprising

    That these paramilitary groups are legal at all is symbolic of stupidity in high places.

  4. human

    What's wrong with pay for play fighting? Soon, when nobody will fight for you, you will have nobody to run to when you are frightened by men. The World is full of fighters not liberal Marys. Whom will protect you cowards when we, the military, give up on you and you have no money to hire real men? Just get on your knees and take it like sheep. You hippys think the World is all about peace because you are blinded by liberalism. The real world is mean as hell and I love it. Men aren't meant to be like girls, like you. Liberals need to be wiped out before America falls.

  5. Jonesy

    Everyone here talking smack on the U.S. must have not paid attention to the first half of this documentary. Yah know, the whole part that talked about European countries. You are the same people that use America as a scape goat because it's the easy way out.

  6. Roger Andout

    2007... perhaps an update would be in order, as laws are changing, B/water being under senate scrutiny.

  7. Edward

    I celebrate every time one of these mercenary POS gets killed. And I hope their death is agonizing and prolonged.
    Murder for hire............just like the CIA

    1. Bruce Wayne

      Not all of these people are bad. Some people have military training and it's the only real way they can make a living. They don't want to shoot anybody and just want to be able to feed their families

    2. James

      That is a completely stupid statement. There are millions of other jobs a person could do other than kill people. Old dogs can learn new tricks. If they can't, it's time to retire the dog.

    3. Eric Lilly

      One of those jobs would be in the actual military. You know, where they would be doing their service for a 10th of the taxpayers money and have some sort of accountability.

    4. Mark Taha

      They're better men than you!

  8. Richard Neva

    War is good business; too bad!

  9. bigdarren69

    Typical,america thinking they're the world's police !!!

    1. Jonesy

      You definitely missed the beginning of the documentary...You know, the part about the European countries.

  10. deanharrington

    The point of having mercenary forces well primed and ready to do their masters bidding is that there is no loyalty to any nation, constitution or culture ... it's not about outsourcing ... it's about preparing the ground for putting down a serious American revolt as that is very likely at some point in the future!

    1. Bruce Wayne

      It's also about making money. The people who got into Iraq after the war offering services to the army made millions. Some of those people literally made(the owners) tens of millions of dollars in a couple years.

    2. TheUprising

      LOL that's billions we know about, perhaps trillions, Batman

    3. anastasius

      I totally agree. Civil war in America is coming. It will be between those who get something from the state and those who have had enough of the state. There are a lot of people who will soon understand that the government they live under hates their freedom, their safety, their prosperity and does so by deed. They don't get it yet because everything they take for granted seems to work on some level. Get ready for some exciting economic events that changes all that.

      The major credit based currencies have hit the wall in terms of generating enough credit to service debt. The system no longer functions and that will be evident in ever increasingly large failures, including sovereign states. Things will lead to events where many citizens question their very survival at times.

      Events that create enough cognitive dissonance to get people believing in what they see rather than what they are told to believe. So much of what so many take for granted is about to turn to dust. Big change is coming fast.

      Those who enjoy power and position would certainly contract such security companies and their employees to keep it. Not so sure that all their employees will toe the company line when that happens.

  11. a_no_n

    Personally i'm kind of amazed that America relies so highly on mercenary forces.

    It seems awfully pointless to spend more on your military than the next ten countries combined to then just go ahead and outsource all the dirty work to private firms.

    1. S:N/N:A

      A major point, of the exorbitant spending; seems to be the spending, itself. People are raking it in, as the world's largest arms industry is subsidzed, but not in our interest, of course. So, from that view, it would make sense to outsource on top of it...more arms to be produced.

    2. a_no_n

      I hadn't considered that.

    3. ZeissIkon

      Yes, sadly the same moneyed interests that lobby for increased military activity, also reap the rewards on arms sales and now presumably take a share of the profits from the private military contractors. By moving government spending from their own military to PMC's, they have simply found an additional way of looting tax payers, which of course suits the politicians involved, as there is far less accountability, should anyone on the ground over step the mark.
      Furthermore, it would serve us well to remember that these are international companies. Nation states are just something they feed off of.

    4. Josh

      But at the same time, America doesn't look bad if they don't use their army and just go with the excuse that they didn't enforce any military to attack that country. I believe it's a perfect play until they find out what they've been up to!

    5. Bruce Wayne

      The thing is the people in power all are either owners of these contracting companies or are getting kickbacks or promises of future employment. They make sure a company is funded with big contracts and then when they quit politics the get a couple million a year as a consultant for the company. Meanwhile they never set foot in the business or do any consulting for them. It's bribe but if they took the money while they were still in politics they could get charged so they wait until they are retired to collect.

    6. a_no_n

      yeah that sounds about right!