Increased comfort levels with the contractor presence have coincided with a shift in thinking, whether by default or design, about the forces' "core" activities. A program like the Canadian forces contractor augmentation program exists, in part, to allow the forces greater operational flexibility and to reduce some of the strain its support personnel are facing. It targets the one third of forces' personnel who usually deploy in support efforts. But it is also to permit the forces to concentrate more on "core" or "tooth" type capabilities and less on "tail" or logistic tasks. It would seem, however, that the forces' tooth characteristics are becoming even sharper and, as such, more commercial opportunities exist for armed contractors. Alongside private companies' offer of defensive services, such as the guarding of bases and protection for supply convoys, forces' "core" activities are being reinterpreted to involve combat, rather than just the general use and management of armed force per se. In discussing the use of private companies to provide "perimeter security" for the Canadian provincial reconstruction team's base in Kandahar City and to create "security cordons" following incidents with Canadian convoys, a military spokesman made the distinction explicit: "The Canadian forces does not use any private security contractors to conduct offensive operations.... Using private security contractors for specific tasks permits Canadian forces personnel to focus their efforts on those duties where they bring the greatest value to the mission."9 In short, some of the roles regarding the application, management, and control of violence that the forces have traditionally performed, and which inform the a military's organizational distinctiveness, are being transferred to the civilian marketplace.
Christopher Spearin The changing forms and utility of force The impact of international security privatization on Canada The Canadian forces are rightly interested in a new armed actor, whether employed by Canada or by another allied country, present in its areas of operations—the international private security company. In Afghanistan alone, some 28,000 privately employed personnel provide security to a variety of international clients. Numbers such as these highlight the substantial growth of the private security industry since its modest start at the end of the Cold War.1 Consequently, the Canadian forces are keen to know more about how private security companies operate, how they are managed, and how they interact with state militaries. Key issues of concern include accountability and oversight, situational awareness, appropriate rules of Christopher Spearin is associate professor in the department of defence studies of the Royal Military College of Canada, Canadian Forces College, Toronto. The views expressed in the article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Canadian Department of National Defence or the government of Canada. 1 For background on the rise of the private security industry, see Deborah Avant, The Market for Force: The Consequences of Privatizing Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); P.W. Singer, Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003). | International Journal | Spring 2009 | 481 | | Christopher Spearin | engagement, respect for humanitarian norms and human rights obligations, vetting, and levels of interoperability and training. Information and doctrine development on these issues are important to ensure that private companies complement, rather than overly complicate and detract from, Canadian forces’ operations in the contemporary battle space.2 This article’s goal is to cast the net wider to consider how the private security industry may affect the Canadian forces’ position as Canada’s official organization charged with the responsibility to employ violence when needed overseas. This is no small issue, given the emphasis the Canadian government currently places on the forces as an instrument of policy. The forces have been reorganized into operational commands; the government has increased levels of funding and made
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