This article is about the actual type of corporation and business. For the wiki's namesake game "Arma II: PMC", see ArmA II: Private Military Company.
A private military company (PMC) or (Private Military or Security Companies) provides staff and services of military and sometimes security natures. The hiring of professional soldiers is a common practice in the history of armed conflict. Historically, these soldiers are commonly known as mercenaries. However, modern-day PMCs prefer to call their active staff security contractors, private military contractors or private security contractors, and prefer themselves to be known as private military corporations, private military firms, private security providers or military service providers. Private Military Companies refer to their business generally as the private military industry, in order to avoid the negative stigma often associated with mercenaries.
Private military corporations, private military firms, private security companies, military services providers, and the privatized military industry are all attempts to label the phenomena of private companies offering services on the world market that have normally been duties of national military forces or involve armed security detail for business in unstable regions.
These services include risk advisory, training of local forces, armed site security, cash transport, intelligence services, workplace and building security, war zone security needs, weapons procurement, personnel and budget vetting, armed support, air support, logistical support, maritime security, cyber security, weapons destruction, prisons, surveillance, psychological warfare, propaganda tactics, covert operations, close protection and investigations. Estimates of the number of private international military personnel range from 15,000 to 20,000. That is as much as 15 percent of the total US presence of about 130,000 soldiers. These private contractors -- who most often work for corporations, diplomats, or journalists -- have no accountability to any military or government. They can can earn up to $1,000 a day. NATO forces have used private soldiers for security in the Balkans. But the proportion of private security personnel to regular military soldiers was no greater than 10 percent.
Much has changed since the 1960s when private military activity usually meant mercenaries of the rather unsavoury kind involved in post-colonial or neo-colonial conflicts. Such people still exist; and some of them may be present at the lower end of the spectrum of private military companies.