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The United States government has in its employ several private military firms abroad for operations in theaters of war like Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of UN conventions and public opinion, their purpose is never to explicitly bolster offensive actions or participate in combat, but rather to act as security guards for critical personnel, as checkpoint guards, and otherwise in defensive roles. Still, though, there have been numerous points of controversy about the deployment of these firms by the government, pointing out callous acts and hostile action brought about by contractors who were far too trigger-happy. In addition, they may still be considered mercenaries because of their participation, regardless of what their function on the battlefield might be.
The question must be asked then: Should the United States contract these private military firms abroad for military operations? The answer has several facets to it. First off, private military contractors can send personnel to cover the more mundane tasks that would otherwise be taken by valuable soldiers who could be out fighting in the front lines. At the same time, though, these contractors are potentially not as well-trained or not as disciplined as dedicated military. They also do not feel the threats of court-martial or severe disciplinary action in case of errors of judgement or problematic decisions – threats which discourage real soldiers from causing harm or dealing damage. In addition to all of these, they are not covered by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which means that they do not follow the same rules as the regular soldiers. Second, private military contractors provide their own equipment, separately from the equipment of the military forces, which means that hiring contractors will increase personnel without reducing the vehicles or guns available for combat use. Finally, private military contractors can be sent on tasks that, for whatever reason, active military elements will not be able to participate in.
In the end, private military firms abroad represent a good idea for the military, because of the benefits that the presence of independent contractors has. They must be more closely regulated, though, because of their attitudes and privatized nature, which cause them to be less disciplined than soldiers under the actual armed forces. They should also be prevented from participating in active combat, to follow through with international laws and public opinion. All these aside, having private military firms abroad is a significant advantage and a boon to tired and weakened US military forces in war-torn region.