Memorandum from Lt Colonel Tim Spicer
GREEN PAPER RESPONSE
I welcome the Green Paper as a very thorough
and constructive document. As a start point for the development
of legislation it is very sound. My comments are set out below.
I have followed the order of the paper and used the appropriate
The British Government policyfor example
to outsource certain tasks that in earlier days would have been
undertaken by the armed services.
The US is well ahead of UK in this areamost
of MPRI's contracts are with the US Government to provide training
for US forces. Whilst I agree that there are areas where PMCs
could help, such as:
There are also areas where PMCs could assist
UK national or coalition forces if they were already deployed
in a country to which the UK Government may wish to deploy military
I support the general principle of licensing
"to distinguish between reputable and disreputable private
sector operators". It will clarify the situation for all
concernedGovernment, PMCs and clients.
This is a very difficult area and will have
to be considered very carefully in any legislation, to make it
workable. Perhaps a clearer approach is not to define companiesPMC,
Security Companies etc, but to define activities and make them
inclusive/exclusive. Paragraph 11 makes a very good point. I would
include the complexity of a situation where a security company
(which professes not to be a PMC) is providing expatriate armed
guards for a strategic installation, such as an oil well, jointly
owned by the local government and an International Oil Company,
in a country where there is conflict with a rebel movement. If
the guards protect the installation with their weapons against
the rebelsare they fighting for the Government and thus
supporting the war effort? (Paragraph 13 applies).
Definitions should also be linked to current
military/political terminology eg
4. THE DEBATE
(i) AccountabilityThere are a number of
key areas that make PMCs accountable.
International and national law
The contract of employment (perhaps
this should include a mandatory human rights section)
Regulation (when formulated)
Image and reputational concerns
In addition, I believe if a licensing system
is introduced a monitoring system is possible. A suggestion is
that the oversight or monitoring role could be filled by military
attachés. Certainly UK PMCs would welcome this as a close
liaison in country, it would be useful for both parties, and would
assist with transparency.
With regard to "transparency" I believe
this should start with the registration process. I support this
as a regulatory requirement but I believe there should be two
Level 1that required by normal
UK corporate registration/administration. This information would
be in the public domain. UK licensed registered PMCs should be
based in UK.
Level 2Confidential information
required by government for registration/licensing. This relates
to ownership, vetting of personnel, finances, training and competence
standards, identities of employees etc. This should not be in
the public domain for two reasons:
PMC personnel are former UK SF/Intelligence service personnel
who have had sensitive careers and continue to do sensitive work
in the private sector. It would be both unfair and dangerous to
require public disclosure of this information. This restricted
level of information should also apply to clients and potential
clients. (This is discussed later).
The points raised about accountability are equally
relevant to sovereignty issues. In my view it is not possible
for a legitimate PMC to be a threat to sovereignty. I agree with
the last sentence of paragraph 39.
(ii) Economic Exploitation
The argument is simple; a sovereign government
can do what it likes with its legitimate assets whether it is
cash or other assets including minerals and other natural resources.
The proviso is government ownership and the acquisition of legitimate
services whether it is road building, housing or the services
of a PMC.
There is another angle to this as well. PMCs
are military service providers with payrolls to meet, overheads
to pay for, cash flow to maintain etc. A mineral concession is
worthless to a PMC.
(iii) A Vested Interest in Conflict
Paragraph 40 sums it up.
(iv) Human Rights
PMCs are very unlikely to be involved in human
rights violationsit is the quickest way to be out of business
and en route to the International Criminal Court. On the contrary,
PMC training and supervision of military operations can raise
the standard of human rights awareness and behaviour. Government
forces in some less developed countries can be part of the problem.
(v) Underlying Problems/Proxies for Governments
No specific comments. Paragraphs 47 and 52 sum
it up well.
(vi) Moral Objections
Again this is a thin argument. Views may well
have changed since 11 September 2001.
(vii) Double Standards
(viii) PMCs and International Operations
It is perfectly feasible for a PMC to be employed
by the UN. There are some very significant factors which would
benefit the UN and the international community.
Speed of reaction/deployment
Commonality of equipment, training,
C3I, force motivation and direction
would all be easier and more effective
Size related to effectiveness
No need to "canvas" for
No sensitivity about casualties from
A classic example is referred to in the paperSierra
Leone. It is worth looking at the time it took to deploy the UN
force from agreement to inception (seven months). The Msize of
the force balanced against military effectiveness, and the cost.
The roles of PMCs with the UN would be to be
clearly defined in a UN charter. Possible uses are:
Rapid crisis responseimmediate
deployment followed by replacement by a larger force
Separation of warring factions
Refugee protection and management
Security for humanitarian assistance
Intelligence and psy ops
Combat and civil engineering tasks
The case for regulation is accepted, particularly
if it clears up misunderstandings, prejudice etc and creates an
(i) Options for Regulation
Obviously both a ban, or ban on recruitment
(paragraphs 71 and 72) are not supported. Both would put UK PMCs
out of business. The argument that PMCs would move off-shore is
not really valid with the respectable end of the market. Most
owners, operators and personnel are mature individuals whose patriotism
is unquestionable. They tend to have families and assets such
as houses hereit would not be easy, or in most cases acceptable,
to slide away off-shore to circumvent legislation, and possibly
face prosecution, if they returned (ie if legislation referred
to citizenship, passport holders etc rather than physical location).
With regard to the varying options for licensing,
I do not intend to go through each in detail, but to outline a
licensing system which would be acceptable to PMCs having regard
to one of their key valuesspeed and flexibility, and one
of their key concernsclient confidentiality.
In order to operate in or from the UK, PMCs
should go through the following process:
Stage 1: Application to register
for a licence to operate
Stage 2: Vetting of PMC and personnel
Management structure including
advisors such as lawyers/accountants
Full time personnel vettingtechnical
competence background (criminal record etc.), training
Mechanism for PMC vetting consultants/part
This process would not be dissimilar to Government
Stage 3: Registration and granting
of general licence to operate. NB reasons for refusal to grant
registration would have to be given in detailunlike government
Stage 4: Periodic renewal of licencetimeframe
to be determined, three to five years? But with an annual return
to fill in?
With regard to the licence to operatethis
should be a general licence. The application and granting of a
licence for each contract is far too restrictive, time consuming,
expensive, slow, and would put British firms at a disadvantage.
The vetting process should ensure that UK firms will not be likely
to break the rules. There is also the force of the law to fall
back on, if a breach of licensing takes place.
However given that with this system in place,
there should be a close working relationship between government
and PMCs, it would be relatively easy for the Government to retain
the right to intervene to prevent a contract going ahead where
it felt it necessary for genuine reasons of national interest
As far as self-regulation is concernedthere
would be little change to what exists today. Any respectable PMC
adheres to the points made in paragraph 76. Whilst this is the
easiest option to implement I suspect it will not satisfy some
Whilst this is implicit in the licensing package
and there would be no objection from PMCs, there are two areas
that would be of concern:
Neither of which is necessarily applicable to
arms exporting licences.
7. EUROPEAN UNION
This point is accepted but it is suspected that
consensus would be difficult, particularly as there is little
or no tradition or comprehension of PMC work in most EU member
countries, with the possible exception of France.
The origins of this paper are only too well
known to me personally. My only comment is that the PMC work going
on in Sierra Leone which was interrupted, inter alia, by
the "Arms to Africa" affairultimately ended with
the deployment of a UK force with its associated costs and a UN
force of 17,000 with its associated costs. It may have been better
to extend encouragement and assistance to Sandline to continue
its operations against the RUF.
My only other comments are to concur wholeheartedly
with paragraph 6, and to reiterate my concern about licensing
for each project. It is very possible that the point made in paragraph
12 about delay in issuing a licence leading to lost contracts
is very likely.
Lt Colonel Tim Spicer