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.

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mark Taha
2 years ago

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

7 years ago

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.

8 years ago

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

8 years ago

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.

8 years ago

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.

Roger Andout
8 years ago

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

8 years ago

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

Richard Neva
8 years ago

War is good business; too bad!

8 years ago

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

8 years ago

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!

8 years ago

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.