Steven Pressfield on Why Privates Armies, as Written About

in THE PROFESSION, ARE the Foreseeable Future
1) Already there are more private contractors than conventional military soldiers in both Iraq and
2) Deficit woes and budget shortfalls will apply increasing pressure on the Pentagon budget. We're
already withdrawing from Iraq; the Afghan "troop drawdown" is slated to commence in a little
over a year. What force will take up the slack? Probably elite conventional military combined with
elite private contractor teams (which are actually just elite U.S. military who have retired and gone
back to work as private contractors).
3) Great Britain just downsized its army and navy due to the economic crisis. That's one ally we
can't count on anymore. Already France, Germany, etc., are contributing next to nothing to efforts
such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Who will make up this shortfall?
4) "Nation-building" and counter-insurgency tactics are both very troop-intensive; they require
vast armies on-site. More and more, the American public is losing patience with these
methodologies. Already Vice President Biden is calling for a "counter-terrorism" strategy that uses
far fewer troops. Such a strategy can be outsourced. It's already partially outsourced, in that
numerous contractors participate in this type of mission as it is being run today.
5) Drone warfare. Predator-type unmanned air vehicles are being used more and more to hit "highvalue targets"—i.e., Taliban and al Qaeda leaders—remotely. There is no reason this can't be
outsourced. It already is in many cases, in that companies like Lockheed and Grumman run the
6) Oversupply of labor. There are literally hundreds of thousands of trained warriors (our own vets
from Iraq and Afghanistan) who would form an instant labor pool, should their trades suddenly
come into high-paying demand on the private side. God knows they're not making any money
from Uncle Sam.
Only two things are missing to make the scenario of THE PROFESSION
credible in real life:
1) A genuine stand-alone private army. Right now, contractors hire out in small teams or
individually. What has yet to happen is a private company putting together a brigade-sized force
(or larger) for hire. When that happens, everything will change.
2) "Mercenary" is still a four-letter word to the public. Certain outrages pulled off by Blackwater,
etc., have given the idea of private contractors a black eye. That could change, however, as The
Profession suggests, with the rise of a credible, respected general who would become the head of
such a company and upgrade its image. Suppose General Petraeus retired in five years and signed
up to head a private outfit. That could be a game-changer. Already William Bratton, the highly
respected former police chief of NY and LA, has signed to head an international security force.
This is only a halfstep away from what The Profession is suggesting.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful