All types of corporations, government agencies, and miscellaneous organizations hire privately-owned and operated security firms, to provide bodyguards for senior officials, to improve the security of physical assets like buildings, hydroelectric and nuclear power plants, and to execute sensitive operations, for example, mediating in kidnapping ransom negotiations.
The privatization of security services was a direct outgrowth of pressure on federal agencies, especially the Department of Defense, which saw its budget shrink considerably following the end of the Cold War and before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to privatize as many of its internal operations as it could. Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees (for whom this “educator” worked during the period under discussion), seeking ways to reduce the costs of many noncombat activities within the military while increasing employment opportunities for companies in their home districts and states, pressured the Defense Department to privatize activities not directly linked to combat. One of the largest corporations to emerge from that effort was Halliburton and its Brown and Root division, which specialized in rapidly constructing support buildings and providing essential services like food preparation and infrastructure development. One of the major results of the privatization effort, however, and the most controversial, involved security operations.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, placed a premium on privately-owned security services. Because the federal agencies involved, including the Departments of Defense, State, Agriculture, Treasury, and others, were all short of the security personnel needed to protect the increasing number of civilian personnel sent to those two countries, as well as to neighboring countries like Kuwait and Uzbekistan, where military support installations are located, the private sector moved in to fill the void, and at extremely profitable rates. Companies like Blackwater (later renamed to Xe and currently Academi) and Dyncorp International subsequently secured large and lucrative contracts to provide physical security and bodyguards for civilian federal employees operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition to the U.S. Government, many corporations hire private security firms to protect their buildings and, when necessary, to provide bodyguards for high level company officials who have received threats to their lives. Chief Executive Officers of major corporations routinely avail themselves of these services when their companies come under attack from groups of citizens violently opposed to their operations. Again referring to personal experience and observations, this educator knows and has worked with private security contractors who were hired to protect CEOs of such corporations.
When visiting dignitaries come to the United States, the U.S. Secret Service has been known to augment its staff with private security companies. One such instance known to this educator involved a visit to the U.S. of the late Pope John Paul, whose security detail included bodyguards from privately-owned companies.
Other private businesses or organizations that hire security companies include law firms handling highly contentious cases, nongovernmental organizations seeking to protect employees operating in dangerous areas, and foreign businessmen visiting the U.S. who simply wish to feel safe.