WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein — The increasing use of private mercenary forces by the United States could pose a threat to the democratic accountability of armed forces, author and former private military contractor Sean McFate told Sputnik.
"Many have argued correctly, I think, that the private military industry demonstrates a lack of democratic accountability of military forces," McFate said on Monday.
If the trend continues toward increasing use of private mercenaries, "it would pose a serious challenge to democratic accountability," McFate added.
According to the Department of Defense, the US use of private contractors in war during the last decade matched or outnumbered uniformed US troops.
The US Defense Department currently spends more than 50 percent of its annual budget on contractors.
Despite the United States "de facto legitimizing" the use of mercenaries during the past decade of wars, it "does have the credibility to try to reign in" the use of mercenaries, McFate said.
During a Monday discussion at the Institute for World Politics, McFate noted that the rise of private mercenaries used in conflict is creating a "neo-medievalism."
He warned that "anyone who has wealth, who can afford war, can wage it for any reason they want," comparing the system to the order during the Middle Ages in Europe.
In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US Defense Department relied primarily on non-lethal contractors to tend to logistical duties, although between 10 and 12 percent of the total number of contractors were authorized for lethal combat roles.
During World War II, the United States used approximately one contractor for every seven soldiers, according to Defense Department procurement statistics. In the Afghanistan War, beginning in 2001, that number increased to 1.4 contractors for every soldier, and one contractor for every one soldier in the 2003 Iraq War.