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I've Got Soul but I'm Not a Soldier

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Post-9/11, the privatization of security witnessed an unprecedented growth in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2005 there were reported more contractors than soldiers in both conflicts. Despite heavy media coverage, armed security contractors comprise the smallest percentage of the industry, yet they are its most controversial aspect. While there is a significant body of scholarship on the privatization of security, the individual private security contractor remains relatively overlooked in academic inquiry. Many private security contractors have military experience, often a requirement for the job. This paper addresses these individuals by way of their military–civilian transition, asking: how does becoming a private security contractor after military service affect an individual's transition from the military to civilian life? This paper explores the potential influence of the individual's residual military network as opposed to understanding the individual's move into security contracting by motives alone. It further discusses the role that private security contracting plays in the individual's overall life-course in regards to their military-civilian transition, concluding that the greatest transition the individual faces is leaving security contracting for civilian life. To support this argument, this paper uses data collected from a survey of 1,515 private security contractors and thirty-two interviews with private security contractors.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2014

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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