The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Step Aside Blackwater/XE Services…

November 6, 2009

The “market” seems to be working in some sectors in Iraq and Afghanistan. New private security firms are popping up everywhere. Ten thousand Ugandans have gone to work as security guards in Iraq in the past two years. Now many are looking for work in Afghanistan. From the BBC:

Seth Katerema Mwesigye, an instructor at Watertight, says the money has made him wealthy by Ugandan standards.

“I was a student at Makerere university, but when I left, I did not have land. When I came back, I bought land and cows. All that money came from Iraq.”

Mr Masiko says that Iraq has proved to be a lucrative opportunity for security firms and their Ugandan recruits.

But he says the company now needs to stay ahead of the increasing competition in the security sector and look for opportunities in new places.

“More companies are coming in and they are ready to recruit for much less than we are offering which is $700 or $1,000 (£600) per month,” he says.

“Also you realise that other countries are coming into the market on the other side.
Originally Kenyans were not doing security work but today, there are more than 500 of them in Iraq and they work for as little as $400 per month.

“So we are facing competition.

“But all eyes are now on Afghanistan. We hope that as it opens we are going to get more business there,” he says.

This is the future that Deborah Avant began warning about nearly a decade ago when she began work on The Market Force: The Consequences of Privatizing Security. It’s still the best read on the topic.

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Jon Western has spent the last fifteen years teaching IR in liberal arts colleges at Mount Holyoke College and the Five Colleges in western Massachusetts. He has an eclectic range of intellectual interests but often writes on international security, U.S. foreign policy, military intervention, and human rights. He occasionally shares his thoughts about professional life in liberal arts colleges. In his spare time he coaches middle school soccer, mentors the local high school robotics team, skis, and sails.