Consolidating Private Security Companies in Southern Afghanistan

This backgrounder outlines the complex relationship between private security companies and ISAF in southern Afghanistan.



Dozens of Private Security Companies (PSCs) operate in Kandahar city and province, frequently doubling as the militias of local powerbrokers. These armed groups also operate on a contractual basis to provide security for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and private, Afghan companies. Because PSCs are under the control of powerful individuals, rather than the Afghan National Security Forces, they compete with state security forces and interfere with a government monopoly on the use of force. There is growing pressure from ISAF and within the Afghan government to reform and regulate these companies. Major General Nick Carter, the commander of Regional Command-South (RC-S), recently briefed that ISAF was developing a strategy to regulate PSCs as part of the Kandahar Operations unfolding in summer 2010.1

If not properly structured, however, the regulation of these PSCs in Kandahar may reinforce the existing power structures, strengthen the hand of local powerbrokers such as Ahmed Wali Karzai, and further weaken the ANSF. An initiative underway to consolidate the security companies in southern Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate the problems caused by PSCs, rather than reducing their influence.