The controversy surrounding Private Military Companies (PMCs): looking back on executive outcomes
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Amidst arguments that the nature of war has changed, notably by Kaldor (2006), Keegan (2004), Münkler (2005), and Van Creveld (2008), Private Military Companies (PMCs) have received increasing media and scholarly attention over the past decade. South Africa is no stranger to the media storm evoked by Blackwater USA during the recent conflict in Iraq Executive Outcomes (hereafter referred to as EO) caused a comparable controversy during the 1990s, first through their involvement in Angola after the withdrawal of the SADF, and later through their contract in Sierra Leone. At the time, PMCs were still a relatively new phenomenon, and thus research was scarce and it was difficult to discuss EO properly in the context of PMCs rather than as mercenaries. In the wake of the war in Iraq, the rapid growth of research into the PMC phenomenon has however provided a wealth of information that facilitates a better understanding of EO’s role in the post-Cold War conflict environment. This article aims to discuss EO in this global debate by using recent research into the phenomenon, arguing that Executive Outcomes was part of a global trend in warfare.