News You Really Need To See: “The Chaos Company”

“The Chaos Company”

Vanity Fair, April 2014, pp.144+

“Wherever governments can’t—or won’t—maintain order, from oil fields in Africa to airports in Britain and nuclear facilities in America, the London-based ‘global security’ behemoth G4S has been filling the void.  It is the world’s third-largest private-sector employer [behind Walmart and the Taiwanese manufacturing conglomerate Foxconn] and commands a force three times the size of the British military. … G4S is based near London and is traded on the stock exchange there.  Though it remains generally unknown to the public, it has operations in 120 countries and more than 620,000 employees. …  The fact that such a huge private entity is a security company is a symptom of our times.  Most G4S employees are lowly guards, but a growing number are military specialists dispatched by the company into what are delicately known as ‘complex environments’ to take on jobs that national armies lack the skill or the will to do. … For whatever reason, the world everywhere is getting harder to manage, and governments are increasingly unable to intervene.  Into the void left by governments’ retreat, private-security companies have naturally arrived.  The size of the industry is impossible to know, given difficulties with definitions and the thousands of small companies entering the business, but in the United States alone security guards may now number two million, a force larger than all the police forces combined, and during the war in Iraq private military contractors sometimes outnumbered U.S. troops, as they do in Afghanistan today.”

Quickie analysis:  A really interesting look private security contractors, a huge employment sector that most of us give no thought to.  (Also an interesting peek at South Sudan, where some of the article’s subjects were working when this was written.)

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