Private Militaries and the Security Industry in Civil Wars: Competition and Market Accountability

12:00pm - 1:00pm


On Thursday, April 7 at 12:00 p.m. ET, START Associate Research Scientist Elizabeth Radziszewski provided a virtual talk on her book, Private Militaries and the Security Industry in Civil Wars: Competition and Market Accountability. A recording of the event can be seen at this link. If you have any questions, please email the START events team at

Whether they train police forces in Afghanistan or provide military assistance to governments in Africa that are battling rebel groups, private military and security companies (PMSCs), or corporations that provide security and military services for profit, have been present in numerous conflicts around the globe. In 1984 only one international PMSC intervened in a civil war; in 1989 there were 15 international PMSCs present in conflict zones, while from 2003 to 2019 over 120 of such companies provided services during the Iraq war. Why do international PMSCs sometimes help with conflict termination while in other cases their intervention is associated with prolonged wars? And in what ways does market competition affect PMSCs’ military effectiveness?

Relying on quantitative analysis of original data on international PMSCs’ involvement in civil wars from 1990 to 2008 and PMSCs’ human rights and fraud violations in Iraq from 2003 to 2019, the book investigates how local and global competition impacts accountability of these non-state actors and their contribution to the termination of major and minor wars. This talk will also explore conditions under which private military and security companies could be effectively utilized by governments to help terminate irregular conflicts.

Dr. Elizabeth Radziszewski is an Associate Research Scientist at START where she co-leads the Global Responses to Asymmetric Threats project. Her research focuses on irregular warfare, international rivalries, foreign policy, and creativity/innovation. She is the author of Private Militaries and the Security Industry in Civil Wars: Competition and Market Accountability (Oxford University Press, 2020) and Social Networks and Public Support for the European Union (Routledge, 2013). Her work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and policy magazines such as the Wilson Quarterly, Journal of Conflict ResolutionSmall Wars & Insurgencies, Foreign Policy AnalysisJournal of Global Security StudiesInternational Interactions, and Political Research Quarterly. Prior to joining START in 2022 she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Master’s program in Homeland Security at Rider University and a Research Fellow at Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy. Over the years, Dr. Radziszewski designed and taught over 15 courses in the area of foreign policy, global security, and unconventional warfare at the undergraduate and graduate level. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.