Privatizing war and security in Afghanistan: Future or dead end?

Antonio Giustozzi


An assessment of the employment of mercenaries in Afghanistan gives mixed results. U.S. armed forces appear to have been happy with the Afghan Security Forces and ad hoc militias and only replaced them because of political reasons or because they felt that they were no longer needed. By contrast, the work of private security companies seems to have satisfied few. While in the short term no practical alternative to their use existed, it is not obvious that this option saves any money to the governments involved in the medium and long-term. Moreover, private security contractors are not subject to the control of military authorities, nor to military discipline. Their record of abusive behavior is indisputable and probably played a significant role in alienating the Afghan public. Unless much changes, the potential of private security companies in peacekeeping does not appear to be a bright one.

Full Text:



Andres, R.B., et al. 2005/6. “Winning with Allies: The Strategic Value of the Afghan Model.” International Security, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Winter).

Chayes, S. 2006. The Punishment of Virtue. New York: Penguin.

[CFCA] Combined Forces Command Afghanistan. 2006. “Afghan Security Forces Demobilize, Join ANA, ANP.” Afghan Freedom Watch. 23 January 2006, pp. 12-13. [9 December 2006].

Crewdson, J. 2002. “Sex Scandal still Haunts DynCorp.” The Chicago Tribune. 13 May 2002.

[GAO] Government Accountability Office. 2005a. “Afghanistan Security: Efforts to Establish Army and Police Have Made Progress, but Future Plans Need to Be Better Defined.” Report GAO-05-575. June. Washington, DC: GAO. [accessed 9 December 2006].

[GAO] Government Accountability Office. 2005b. “Rebuilding Iraq: Actions Needed to Improve Use of Private Security Providers.” Report GAO-05-737. July. Washington, DC: GAO. [accessed 9 December 2006].

Giustozzi, A. 2003. “Respectable Warlords? The Politics of State-Building in Post-Taleban Afghanistan.” Working Paper 33. London: Crisis States Research Centre. [9 December 2006].

Giustozzi, A. Forthcoming. “The Inverted Cycle: Kabul and the Strongmen’s Competition for Control over Kandahar, 2001-2006.” Central Asian Survey. Human Rights Watch. 2002. “Afghanistan: Return of the Warlords.” Briefing paper. June. New York: Human Rights Watch. [accessed 9 December 2006].

Human Rights Watch. 2003. “‘Killing You is a Very Easy Thing For Us.’ Human Rights Abuses in Southeast Afghanistan.” July. New York: Human Rights Watch. [accessed 9 December 2006].

Human Rights Watch. 2004. “The Rule of the Gun: Human Rights Abuses and Political Repression in the Run-up to Afghanistan’s Presidential Election.” Briefing paper. September. New York: Human Rights Watch. [accessed 9 December 2006].

[ICG] International Crisis Group. 2005. “Afghanistan: Getting Disarmament Back on Track” Asia Briefing No. 35. 23 February 2005. /index.cfm?l=1&id=3290 [accessed 9 December 2006].

[IISS] International Institute for Strategic Studies. 2006. The Military Balance 2006. London: IISS.

Isenberg, D. “Security for Sale in Afghanistan.” Asia Times Online [Hong Kong]. 4 January 2003. [accessed 9 December 2006].

Keilthy, P. 2004. “Private Security Firms in War Zones Worry NGOs.” AlertNet. 11 August 2004. [accessed 9 December 2006].

Koelbl, S. 2006. “The Wild East.” Der Spiegel [Hamburg, Germany]. 29 September 2006.

Meo, M. 2004. “Kabul’s Colonel Kurtz.” The Sunday Herald [Scotland]. 11 July 2004. [accessed 9 December 2006].

Nawa, F. 2006. “Afghanistan, Inc.” Oakland, CA: CorpWatch. [accessed 9 December 2006].

Naylor, S.D. 2006. “The Waiting Game: A Stronger Taliban Lies Low, Hoping the U.S. Will Leave Afghanistan.” Armed Forces Journal (February). [accessed 9 December 2006].

Norton-Taylor, R. 2006. “Afghanistan Close to Anarchy, Warns General.” The Guardian [London]. 21 July2006.,,1826303,00.html [accessed 9 December 2006].

Rohde, D. 2006. “An Afghan Symbol for Change, Then Failure.” The New York Times. 5 September 2006. [accessed 9 December 2006].

Rubin, B. 2006. “Afghanistan Reverts to Old Chaos.” The Mercury News [San Jose,CA]. 25 June 2006.

Scott-Tyson, A. 2004. “Do Special Forces Need Special Funding?” Christian Science Monitor. 24 May 2004.

Smith, C.S. and C. Gall. 2004. “The Intimidating Face of America.” The New York Times. 13 October 2004.

Tepperman, J.D. 2002. “Can Mercenaries Protect Hamid Karzai?” The New Republic. 25 November 2002.

The Senlis Council. 2006. “Field Notes. Afghanistan Insurgency Assessment: The Signs of an Escalating Crisis. Insurgency in The Provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Nanga rhar .” April. London: The Senlis Council. [accessed 9 December 2006].



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.