Civilian Warriors: Private Security Companies and the Future of Conflict

For more than a decade, U.S. foreign policy has heavily relied on Private Security Companies (PSCs) to provide a wide range of services in conflict areas around the world. In Iraq and Afghanistan alone, over half of the personnel deployed by the United States were PSC contractors. While the use of such “civilian warriors” has become ubiquitous, the debate over their appropriate role has remained contentious and controversial. Meanwhile, other world powers and non-state actors -- from private sector companies to humanitarian organizations -- have begun to employ private forces more extensively. Most national security experts acknowledge that PSCs will continue to play a significant role in global security issues, but there is little national or international consensus on where to draw the line or how to address the moral and legal questions surrounding PSC activities.

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YPFP invites its members to consider these critical issues in discussion with two of the leading experts on the topic: Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater and Chairman of Frontier Services Group, and Sean McFate, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and Fellow at Oxford University. Both have firsthand elite military and private contracting experience, and both have been at the center of the emergence of PSCs – for better or worse – as an integral element of the modern international security landscape.

Join YPFP on January 18th for what promises to be a riveting and thought-provoking discussion on the appropriate role of PSCs in American foreign policy, and what the expanded global use of private security forces could mean for future conflicts. Ms. Jacqueline Sutherland, a counterterrorism expert and recent YPFP Terrorism & Asymmetric Warfare Fellow, will moderate the evening.

When: January 18, 7:00 p.m.

Where: Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 213

1957 E. St. NW, Washington, D.C.



Mr. Erik Prince is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, military veteran, and private equity investor with business interests in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America in the fields of logistics, aviation services, manufacturing, natural resources development, and energy. He is the founder and chairman of Frontier Resource Group, a private equity firm active across the African continent in areas such as exploration, mining, and energy development. Mr. Prince is the founder of Blackwater, a global private security company, which he sold in 2010 after successfully growing the company over the course of more than a decade into the premier provider of global security and logistics solutions to the United States Government and others. Mr. Prince was educated at Hillsdale College and enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduation, serving as a Navy SEAL officer until 1996.


Dr. Sean McFate is an author, novelist, and expert in foreign policy and national security strategy. Currently, he is a Fellow at Oxford University and a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. He is also a professor of strategy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the National Defense University in Washington, DC. McFate’s career began as a paratrooper and officer in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, where he served under Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus and graduated elite training programs. After this, McFate became a private military contractor in Africa, where he dealt with warlords, raised small armies, worked with armed groups in the Sahara, transacted arms deals in Eastern Europe, and helped prevent an impending genocide. In the world of business, McFate has worked for TD International, DynCorp International, BearingPoint (now Deloitte Consulting) and  Booz Allen Hamilton. McFate holds a BA from Brown University, an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a Ph.D. in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).


Ms. Jacqueline Sutherland currently works for the U.S. Government. She previously served as a Senior Security Analyst at The Chertoff Group, a premier global advisory firm, where she advised clients on how to best protect and fortify their security architecture from physical and cyber threats. Jacqueline recently completed her tenure as YPFP’s Terrorism & Asymmetric Warfare Fellow, through which she was named an opinion contributor to The Hill, and published frequently in The Huffington Post, The National Interest, Real Clear Defense, and Real Clear World. She also previously worked as a Counterterrorism Fellow at the London-based Asia-Pacific Foundation, where she was regularly interviewed as a counterterrorism expert on international news and briefed high-ranking government officials and military officers in the aftermath of terrorist attacks. Jacqueline holds a Master’s with highest honors from The London School of Economics, and a Bachelor’s with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Wake Forest University, where she served as the President of the Student Body.


 Please note this event will be on-the-record and open to YPFP members only


* The views and opinions expressed by these panelists are strictly personal, and do not reflect the views and opinions of their affiliated organizations or employers. 

January 18, 2018 at 7pm - 9pm
Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E St NW
Room 213
Washington, DC 20052
United States
Google map and directions
Alexander Wilson ·

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