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Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror by Robert Young Pelton.

The troops with the necessary skill sets to act as body guards for high ranking political figures tend to be in the upper tier of special operations forces (e.g. SEALs, Delta, etc.).

The skill sets these units possess are highly specialized and are used in situations in which ordinary military troops are incapable of being used (e.g. hostage rescue, snatch-and-grab operations, intel, sabotage, etc.).

So for each high ranking political figure these units have to protect, the fewer opportunities they have in carrying out their traditional operations.

Cody is just plain wrong. The private sector is apriori more efficient than the public sector. As Hans Hoppe has conclusively demonstrated using pure praxeological reasoning, anarchist protection agencies would long since has captured Osama Bin-L in a giant anarchist butterfly net. Hoppe also proved that under Rothbardian anarchism the sea would turn to lemonade and we would all be immortal.

I had thought the story was insufficient military resources to do diplo-security on top of the other standard post-invasion military mission. Scarce resources, political desire to enforce a ceiling on military numbers; ergo, price is bid up on private security service providers. I don't have any good history on the matter however.

My guess is that the use of private security by diplomatic and high-ranking political officials has a lot to do with signaling. Unlike uniformed military personnel, civilian security forces don't stand out - consider what impression might be left on the evening news if a politician was entirely surrounded by a military guard while walking about as opposed to individuals dressed as civilians while traveling in foreign countries. What does that say about how "safe" that country is?

Note that I didn't identify a particular country where this might be done - it pretty much applies across the board, not just Iraq.

It's also why the U.S. Secret Service dresses in civilian clothing - can you imagine how inaccessible a politician would appear if they were always surrounded by a squad of uniformed personnel?

That's not the only way they're used. I recall a story about how the Secret Service created "positive" imagery from the days of the Clinton administration. When walking by a crowd of people lining a path to where the President was going, the Secret Service would order the crowd ahead of the President to put their hands out as he approached.

The security reason was to ensure that nobody in the crowd was armed, but the imagery it created suggested that the people in the crowd were so intensely excited to see the President "up close" and couldn't restrain themselves from reaching out.

The bottom line: they do it because it makes them look better.

Have you ever witnessed private security, Ironman?

Four months ago I rounded a corner in Cape Town, South Africa to see a 250+ pound man decked out in camo crouched with an M-16 in his hands. He was escorting two drivers (equally menacing) and a truckload of money to a bank in Claremont. He did not look like a civilian, in any sense of the word.

Check the original NYT post. There is nothing civilian about a flak jacket.

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