PMSCs in International Security Sector Reform

Authored by: Sean McFate

Routledge Handbook of Private Security Studies

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415729352
eBook ISBN: 9781315850986
Adobe ISBN:


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In 2004, I was a member of a private military and security company (PMSC) team sent to Liberia. Our mission was deceptively simple: demobilize Liberia’s old army and raise a new one. Curiously, our client was not Liberia but the US government. This was no easy task in a country that suffered 14 years of civil war under warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor in a conflict defined by child soldiers, blood diamonds, disappearances, rape and other gross human rights violations, some at the hands of the army. How exactly does one transform a military from a symbol of terror into an instrument of democracy? How can one make a policeman someone a child would run toward for safety rather than away from in fear? How does one convince a warlord to put down his gun and become an unemployed, hungry farmer? On the day that Liberia’s post-Taylor government announced it would demobilize the standing army, the military band played ‘Que Será Será’ at the palace in front of the press and dignitaries.

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