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Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  382 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Some have claimed that "War is too important to be left to the generals," but P. W. Singer asks "What about the business executives?" Breaking out of the guns-for-hire mold of traditional mercenaries, corporations now sell skills and services that until recently only state militaries possessed. Their products range from trained commando teams to strategic advice from gener ...more
Paperback, 348 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Cornell University Press (first published 2003)
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Dan McGrady
Apr 06, 2015 Dan McGrady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book turned out to be much deeper and expansive than I expected. From the beginning I attempted to maintain neutral expectations towards this subject after only being exposed to negative coverage of companies such as Blackwater (now known as Academi) in the press.

I was surprised to learn that there has been a very long history of private military forces that had been used for centuries in Europe. It turns out that the use of PMFs (private military forces) is hardly a new issue and the mora
Aug 26, 2013 Nils rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent tour de horizon from the early Aughts of the rise of the private military contracting (PMC) business, detailing the underlying drivers, the contours of the current businesses, as well as the ambivalent implications of this transformation.

Singer's vantage point is from a baseline assumption that military action and security is an "essentially governmental" function, to be provided in equal measure to all citizens within the contiguous sovereign space of the state. "Traditionally, the
Oct 23, 2007 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to learn about private military companies
This is the primer on private military companies. Singer was one of the first people to comprehensively examine the origins, structure, and operations of this industry. Required reading for anyone who wants to understand these organizations.
It has been much too long in coming, but I finally finished P.W. Singer's Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry . It is, quite simply, excellent.

Singer is one of the most intriguing defense/security writers out there, as his "thing" is basically finding heavily underrreported - yet crucial - developments occurring in the U.S. military. He seems to always be one of the first to really study in a comprehensive and coherent manner certain evolutionary changes in the way
Eric Lundin
Sep 01, 2012 Eric Lundin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unlike much of the literature documenting Private Military Companies/Firms, this book appears to be more of an objective analysis of PMCs/PMFs than a critique of them (although the author does provide plenty of examples of these companies forgoing morals and national loyalties for the sake of profit).

Even though the book's premise centers around the proliferation of mercenary companies since the fall of the USSR, the author does a great job of displaying how the use of mercenaries is hardly a ne
Ian Divertie
Mar 22, 2015 Ian Divertie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what to say about this book. Mainly because I have been up to my eyeballs in the subject matter. Some of these organizations ARE our government and just hiding behind their corporate shield, and others are just that contractors providing services to our government. I would warn you that its gotten worse since this book was written, turning over our military, intelligence, and foreign policy to these people is a mistake. They are not accountable or answerable to our citizens, yet the ...more
May 04, 2009 DoctorM rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
One of the first in-depth works looking at the role of private military contractors and security firms in the early 21st century. Well-written and thoughtful, and far more an analysis than an expose. Singer asks a few key questions: why do private military contractors exist today? how effective are they? how are they controlled? what effect will their use have on the way force is employed and war is waged in the future? Singer rightly questions the level of training and screening of personnel em ...more
Feb 26, 2014 Antigone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: governance
A strong foundational resource for those interested in the evolution of modern-day warfare and security. Privatized military companies are currently in operation throughout the world, based not only in the United States but in Britain, Russia and South Africa as well. These companies have been contracted to assist in the prosecution of war, to train the fighting forces of drug cartels and jihadists, and to protect charitable organizations functioning in high-risk environments. Lacking any legisl ...more
The problem with being ahead of the curve is that once the corner is rounded, everything predicted now seems obvious. That's the problem with Singer's Corporate Warriors, we've rounded the curve. Singer even acknowledges it in a new chapter in the updated edition about the Iraq war and how the private military industry exploded beyond even his projections.

I loved Wired for War, but might have the same criticism if I had read it ten years from now. That's not to undermine the quality of the book,
Jonathan Jeckell
I should have read this years ago; it would have had enormous practical value in thinking about this phenomenon in several of my previous jobs. While some of the specifics are dated, it provides examples of how a few of the pioneering firms evolved, and provides a general framework for how this phenomenon touches a number of areas.
Mark Austin
★ - Most books with this rating I never finish and so don't make this list. This one I probably started speed-reading to get it over with.
★★ - Average. Wasn't terrible, but not a lot to recommend it. Probably skimmed parts of it.
★★★ - Decent. A few good ideas, well-written passages, interesting characters, or the like.
★★★★ - Good. This one had parts that inspired me, impressed me, made me laugh out loud, made me think - it got positive reactions and most of the rest of it was pretty decent too.
William Kend
Dec 01, 2015 William Kend rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book that I am currently reading is "Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry" intrigued me because it provided a honest look into the operations and politics of the Privatized Military Industry. The book is about PMCs (Private Military Contractors) that do the same job as armed services but they get paid more. PMCs are primarily ex-military and ex-law enforcement.
Since PMCs are not part of a nations military, but a privatized military company,they do not have to d
Oct 20, 2008 Blake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in defense and security studies
This is an academic study of the history and implications of private companies providing defense services traditionally associated with governments. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a decent academic discussion about the hazards of such companies, as well as their intrinsic value (generally leaning towards the hazards). It was written in 2004, before Blackwater became a household name, so it avoids the pitfalls of recent books on the defense industry which vastly inflate the roll and in ...more
Nov 24, 2013 Angelina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An outstanding work on private military companies from practical point of view. The author provided both positive and negative ramifications of employing private military firms. Specifically it comes to legal regulations when we have issues with the wrongdoings of the PMC(F)s. It has been widely accepted to send PMCs to the zones where and when governments seek to avoid accountability and to provide less clarifications over their decisions. Liberalism and free markets targeted also the monopoly ...more
Apr 07, 2008 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having read "Blackwater," I was expecting a bit more of an excoriating critique within "Corporate Warriors." This author, however, manages to maintain a scholarly distance and fleshes out a thorough and objective analysis of the subject from a variety of perspectives. Initially I thought that the authors' detachment was tantamount to a tacit approval of the companies being studied, but, after a while, realized that it was my own bias looking for complicity in the authors' statements where there ...more
Jan 21, 2009 Ulysses rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was like eating a burrito full of nutrient-fortified sawdust-- I can't remember the last time I learned so much from a book but failed so badly to enjoy it. I had been expecting something a little more glamorous (both for better and for worse) than the bland truth that I was served-- which is that for all of the mental imagery of swashbuckling mercenaries that the subject matter might immediately bring to mind, in fact the privatized military industry combines all of the mind-n ...more
Chris Morrow
Dec 27, 2011 Chris Morrow rated it really liked it
This was an academic look at PSC/PMC business past, present and future. I found the historical view interesting, the linking together of all of the various incarnations of the relatively few large players in this business is interesting, to say the least.

Additionally, the lessons learned through the last 20 years or so are very interesting, it seems that the continuing use of PMC/PSC folks in place of active duty military forces is actually harming the missions where they are deployed. Perhaps n
Nov 27, 2011 Simon rated it really liked it
Excellent analysis of the privatization of the military in the contemporary moment. Singer does a particularly good job of examining the conditions that give rise to privatization, and a good job of outlining the current manifestations of it, though I would have liked to see much more of an engagement, in his 2008 postscript, with the instances of private military deployment on the ground in the US (Blackwater troops patrolling the streets of post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, for example).
Mar 27, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Singer is purported to be the expert on this subject and his analysis is pretty thorough. This book was published in 2003, I'd love to see what Singer has to say at the 5 year post-invasion mark. A great read for a critical assessment of privitized military operations.
Dec 05, 2014 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, it was largely written prior to all incidents with Blackwater over the past few years, but his predictions seem to come to fruition. This was also a good history of Private Firms in warfare, something not unique to the United States.
Jul 24, 2011 Taruia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Students of PMC/Military
Shelves: private-security
One of the first books to look at the modern use of private military companies (along with that of Deborah Avant). This book by Singer is well written and well researched. He was also one of the first to look at PMCs are training organisations, as well as front line military ones.
Hayo Bethlehem
Jan 06, 2015 Hayo Bethlehem rated it it was amazing
well written academic introduction into modern era privatisation of armed forces and mercenaries. as it is an older book it does not deal much with blackwater and iraq. a postscript on those is added to my updated 2008 edition.
Darian Parsadoust
Jun 07, 2009 Darian Parsadoust rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All
opened my eyes very good book, enjoyed it and couldn't put it down. Great for all military lovers, history lovers, and naturally curious people.
Chose this book to help me out with a paper in school. It was good, but it was a bit outdated for my purposes. Also, not a pick up and read book. Best used for reference only.
An attempt at scholarship that wholly is afraid to offer an opinion, on a subject that deserves one.
Feb 21, 2009 Glen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing historical look at the dangers, advantages, and limitations of contracting out military duties.
Dec 11, 2007 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
Dry, and somewhat dated since it was published in 2003 before the Iraqi insurgency, but useful as a history of the "private security"/mercenary industry and an overview of how it works.
Michael rated it it was amazing
Mar 27, 2014
Tony rated it it was amazing
Sep 21, 2016
Michael Jefferies
Michael Jefferies rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2011
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Great 1 7 Jun 07, 2009 09:27AM  
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  • Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights
  • Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice
  • The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics
  • Military Innovation in the Interwar Period
  • A History of the World Since 9/11: Disaster, Deception, and Destruction in the War on Terror
  • The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World
Peter Warren Singer is Strategist and Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. He previously was Director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution and the youngest scholar named Senior Fellow in Brookings's 99-year history. He has been named by CNN to their "New Guard" List of the Next Generation of Newsmakers, by the Smithsonian Institution-Nationa ...more
More about P.W. Singer...

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“Although these firms deploy units that are often much smaller in manpower relative to their client’s adversaries, their effectiveness lies not in their size, but in their comprehensive training, experience, and overall skill at battlefield judgment, all in fundamentally short supply in the chaotic battlefields of the last decade.14 Utilizing coordinated movement and intelligent application of firepower, their strength is their ability to arrive at the right place at the right moment. The fundamental reality of modern warfare is that in many cases such small tactical units can achieve strategic goals.” 1 likes
“The firm’s employees play active roles alongside those of the client, but in a way designed to make the overall combination more effective. Typically, their employees provide either specialized capabilities too cost-prohibitive for the local force to develop on its own (such as flying advanced fighter jets or operating artillery control systems), or they may be distributed across the forces of the client, in order to provide general leadership and experience to a greater number of individual units.” 0 likes
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