In the 21st century, it can be safely said that the era of the mercenary is alive and well. Private military companies (PMCs) have their roots in the 1990s, but have expanded in use greatly in the last decade. These PMCs have become essential in fighting modern wars. The US is the single largest user of PMCs; almost half of all US military personnel serving in Iraq alone are private contractors! Why is this so? Quite simply, with the number of military commitments the US is involved in, it does not have the military forces available to meet them all. PMCs also provide boots on the ground without risking the lives of US troops. Some of these corporations include somewhat infamous names like Halliburton and Blackwater. Other users of PMCs are from military firms like General Dynamics and Raytheon.
Why would someone want to be a PMC? At the most basic level, the answer is money (isn’t it always). A PMC standard soldier makes five times more money as a common US soldier. Many of these contractors make low six figure salaries at the entry level. PMCs tend to come from police, military, or government backgrounds. Once leaving these positions, some of these people find it hard to assimilate into traditional civilian life. Thus, these individuals seek excitement, wealth, and wish to use the skills they have learned from their military careers. Not all PMCs are combatants; some provide technological, medical, strategic, and logistical support.
With continuing conflicts, it seems likely that PMCs will be used extensively. In PA alone, several contractors have offices in the state. In Washington DC, many private contractors have their offices near government agencies and work consistently with them. Although PMCs are important to US conflicts, it must always be remembered that PMCs are fighting for profit.