FoxNews has an article with more information on how military contractors (a.k.a., mercenaries) work alongside American armed forces.
With the military having shrunk by one-third since the Cold War, the Pentagon has had to rely increasingly on contractors. Some industry insiders say well-run operations can boost military effectiveness and save money. But, company executives and industry analysts say that the private military business, which has ballooned since the Iraq war, is in need of better regulation. At the same time, after recent murders and kidnappings of security contractors, including an Italian who was executed on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers are calling on the Pentagon to review the use of contractors. ...The general consensus seems to be that more regulation and/or more detailed formal arrangements would benefit everyone involved.
Doug Brooks, president of International Peace Operations Association (search), and some in the military bristle at the suggestion that employees of private security companies are only driven by the bottom line.
"No one's going to go over there and risk getting 'Fallujah'd' if you don’t believe in the mission," Brooks said.
The military contractors are "all incredibly professional," Brooks said. That notwithstanding, he added that more regulation would be good for the industry. Currently, military contractors are not identified in a separate area of international law and hardly any countries have addressed these companies in their law codes.
"We're not willing to bear the political costs either to expand [the military] or bring in allies, so we're taking the short term, easy way out and turning it over to private entities," said Singer, author of a book on the industry "Corporate Warriors."
The fact that these companies are not regulated either by international law, national law or the Coalition Provisional Authority, troubles Singer. He said it is bad for the contractors because when they go missing or get in trouble, there is no defined role for the military in terms of aiding them. This danger has been highlighted in recent days with the frequent kidnappings.
"They also don’t fall under the code of military justice, and that opens up a legal gray zone that should be worrying to the public." But he was doubtful that any action would be taken soon because "there's been a lack of interest and political will behind it."