Written by Francesco Baronio
Edited by Miguel Reyes Castro
Supervised by Ginevra Bertamini
The controversial involvement of the Wagner Group in Ukraine and Russia’s domestic politics has recently shed light on Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs). Before that, the American PMSC Blackwater, now Academi, also drew public attention for misconduct during its involvement in Iraq (Singer, 2007). While outsourcing defence and security tasks to private actors by public authorities dates back centuries, PMSCs are a strictly post-Cold War trend (Singer, 2003).
Although several categorisations have been proposed, the PMSC umbrella generally encompasses two types of companies. Private Security Companies (PSCs) provide services aimed at protecting individuals, businesses and properties from criminal activities (European External Action Service [EEAS], 2014). Private Military Companies (PMCs), instead, provide services to replace or back-up an army or armed group or to enhance effectiveness (EEAS, 2014). PMCs can be further divided between active PMCs, willing to carry weapons into combat, and passive ones, focused on training and organisational issues (EEAS, 2014).