Are private military companies’ employees combatants for the purposes of international humanitarian law? There are at least three distinct reasons why it is essential to know whether PMC employees are combatants: first, so that opposing forces know whether they are legitimate military objectives and can be lawfully attacked; second, in order to know whether PMC employees may lawfully participate directly in hostilities; and the third reason, related to the second, is in order to know whether PMC employees who do participate in hostilities may be prosecuted for doing so. Combatant status is tied to membership in the armed forces of a party to a conflict 39 or to membership of a militia or volunteer force that belongs to a party to the conflict and fulfils specific criteria. 40 When evaluating the status of PMC employees it is therefore essential to assess their integration (under Article 4A(1) 37 See section below on ‘‘Combatants’’. 38 See, e.g., Juan Carlos Zarate, ‘‘The emergence of a new dog of war: Private international security companies, international law, and the new world disorder’’, Stanford Journal of International Law, Vol. 34 (Winter 1998); Coleman, above note 12; Milliard, above note 28. 39 Article 4A(1) of the Third Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, of 12 August 1949 (GC III), and Article 43 of Additional Protocol I thereto (P I). 40 GC III, Article 4A(2). L. Cameron – Private military companies and their status under international humanitarian law 582of the Third Geneva Convention or Article 43 of Protocol I) into the armed forces, or their capacity to meet the requirements to qualify as a militia in the sense of Article 4A(2) of that Convention. Under Article 4A(1), it must be ascertained whether an individual has been incorporated into a state’s armed forces according to the laws of the state. Under Article 4A(2), the group as a whole must be assessed to determine whether it meets those requirements. The first means by which PMC employees may qualify as combatants – which corresponds inversely to the fifth criterion of the definition of a mercenary – is to determine whether they are members of the armed forces of a party to the conflict. Article 43.2 of Protocol I stipulates that ‘‘Members of the armed forces of a Party to a conflict … are combatants, that is to say, they have the right to participate directly in hostilities.’’ 41 It is thus necessary to assess whether private military company employees are incorporated within the armed forces of a party to a conflict, as defined in Article 43.1 of Protocol I or Article 4A(1) of the Third Geneva Convention. It is conceivable that in rare cases they might be. Indeed, if all of them were so incorporated, that would solve all regulation issues and pose no problems for their categorization under international humanitarian law. However, the whole point of privatization is precisely the opposite – to devolve on the private sector what was previously the preserve of government authorities. It would seem to be at variance with the philosophy of outsourcing to contend that private military companies are nonetheless members of a state’s armed forces. 42
In other words, the email from the CID Special Agent that indicates there was an investigation done by CID, dated 19 December, wasn't forwarded to me until the 27th, the day I published this, I had written the opening statements days before.
The latest responses to Ben's inquiries were received by him on 19 December, 2012 (we were just made aware of them moments ago while publishing this article) from US ARMY CID seem to indicate there was "an investigation".
And if they are combatants this means they are allowed weapons, since this is established it is time to question if NATO allows the use of RPGS. Since ISAF uses them, then COMPASS-ISS is more than likely also allowed to have them.
Mr Karzai pledged to limit the operations of these firms when sworn in for a second term as president last year. He said they had become a parallel security system, which undermined the development of Afghan government forces. The private security firms are hired to protect international forces, the UN mission, aid organisations, embassies and Western media companies in Afghanistan. Many of these will now be allowed to finish their contracts, our correspondent says. So too will the seven security firms responsible for protecting Nato supply trucks in Afghanistan. There was no immediate response from Nato to the latest announcement.
(1) The staff of the security company can not carry weapons, ammunitions and other equipments out of the areas mentioned in the operational license and can not move with unlicenced armored vehicles.
(2) The license cards for weapons, ammunitions, other equipment, and armored vehicles included in paragraph (1) of this article are prepared and distributed by the High Coordination Board according to the attached guideline; the security company must pay the appropriate fee. The fee table is included in the guideline as Table 4.