Private Armed Forces and Global Security

A Guide to the Issues

by Carlos Ortiz


Private armed forces are nothing new. The estimated ratio of contractor to military personnel during the American Revolution was about 1 to 6. Yet the use of private military companies has proliferated exponentially during the 21st century, and today, they are largely seen as a threat to global security. But are they dangerous or a necessary adjunct to Department of Defense forces?

Print Flyer
Cover image for Private Armed Forces and Global Security

March 2010


Pages 250
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Security Studies/International and Transnational Security

Through an array of theoretical approaches and empirical material, this comprehensive and accessible volume surveys private armed forces and directly challenges conventional stereotypes of security contractors.

Private Armed Forces and Global Security: A Guide to the Issues is the first book to provide a comprehensive yet accessible survey of the private military groups involved in conflicts worldwide. Organized around four themes, it covers the history of private military forces since 1600, the main contemporary actors and their defining characteristics, the environments in which private armed forces operate, and provides an analysis of the logic behind privatizing security.

This book goes beyond conventional knowledge, offering both a theoretical approach and a new, practical perspective to advance the understanding of the ongoing climate of global instability and relevant players within it. Numerous examples help the reader grasp the full range of real-world challenges and conceptual facets surrounding this fascinating, yet highly polarizing topic.


  • Extracts of key legal documents related to mercenary activity and the regulation of the export of defense articles and services help illuminate the laws under which private military forces operate
  • A bibliography highlights significant material focusing on the study of the privatization of security and private military companies and cites key authors and sources of important empirical evidence


  • Identifies the overarching rationale and new managerial methods applied to the privatization and management of state security in the 21st century
  • Concisely integrates in one volume competing approaches and practical understandings of the privatization of security and the use of contractors in areas of state defense and security
  • Introduces an agenda-setting analysis, distinguishing unequivocally between military and security contractors and adverse private forces threatening global prosperity and stability
Series Description

Praeger Security International

As the world gets "smaller" through technology and globalization, the security risks we face grow and multiply.

International security in the 21st century is not a topic that can be adequately addressed in nightly news soundbites or online articles intended to be relevant for 24 hours or less. Comprehending these complex issues requires insight from foreign policy specialists, diplomats, military officials, peace scholars, historians, and security experts—participants and observers on all sides of each conflict. This series provides the tools for understanding security issues in our uncertain, unstable world.

Written by subject experts and well-known researchers, the books in the Praeger Security International series give readers access to carefully considered and highly informed viewpoints on the critical security issues that threaten to destabilize our world. With titles authored by diplomats, first responders, economists, journalists, civil servants, military leaders and combatants, legal experts, psychologists, and other knowledgeable specialists, these books offer in-depth reflections, thorough analysis, and international perspectives that are unavailable in mass media. These titles represent an invaluable resource for students and researchers as well as anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our lives and future.


  • Provides reliable, comprehensive information on all matters relating to security that is ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals
  • Offers insightful commentaries written by a diverse group of scholars and experts who provide interdisciplinary treatments of newsworthy events and important historical occurrences
Author Info

Carlos Ortiz, PhD, is a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Global Political Economy at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. Ortiz has written numerous journal articles and papers about private military companies, the privatization of security, and military history.



"Highly recommended. All readership levels."—Choice

Look Inside

Other Titles of Interest

Military Space Power cover imageMilitary Justice cover imageWar and Children cover image
An Introduction to Military Ethics cover imageMilitary Doctrine cover imageEnergy Security Challenges for the 21st Century cover image

Product Search

Product Search

Publication Year



Need Help? Try our Search Tips