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The Praying Mantis PMC.

A private military company or private military corporation (PMC), also known as a private military security company (PMSC) or private force (PF), is a non-state organization composed of professional soldiers, which provides various military services in exchange for monetary or material compensation. PMCs consisting of a singular member or individual members of a PMC are referred to as private military contractors.


PMCs not only directly participate in battle, they also undertake a large variety of other military responsibilities, such as logistics, maintenance, and transport operations, acting as strategic and tactical advisers, and overseeing the training and education of local military assets. In order to comply with international laws, the position of PMCs is described as being different to that of mercenaries, and the term is often avoided due to the stigma associated with it.[1] The hiring of mercenaries is a common practice in the history of armed conflict. They are also sometimes referred to as an "Army without a country," in reference to the fact that they don't answer to one nation.[2] They can also be used to field test several in-development weapons when the military itself is constrained from doing so on their own terms.[3]

Nonetheless, PMCs do have their limits, however: PMCs cannot directly use state-of-the-art military-grade systems (for example, military-grade aircraft drones), especially on American soil, although they can get them launched by the military provided they possessed the right connections. In addition, PMCs are also required by law to have their contractors be fully informed about having to die in battle, including if the method of death was a built-in self-destruct device that activated when falling in battle.



The concept of a PMC market originated around the early 1970s, with Big Boss's development of Militaires Sans Frontières in 1972. Kazuhira Miller, MSF's subcommander, viewed the MSF in 1974 as being neither a mercenary group nor a foreign legion, but a new kind of business, and wanted to ensure that Big Boss's views on MSF were expanded upon in every way possible.

The PMC market was expanded upon by 1984, where they at the time were referred to as Private Forces. Ironically, a large part of their expansion and spread was the direct result of MSF's destruction by XOF nine years earlier. Survivors of MSF were later forced to become PFs and dogs of war shortly after MSF's fall, many times dying for no reason and with no banner, with demand being particularly high in the Angola-Zaire border region of Central Africa by 1984, for a variety of reasons including Cold War standoffs, tribal clashes, and resource exploitation. Miller, one of the people responsible for the development of the war economy and PFs in particular, later reflected that the whole concept had taken "a pretty crooked course" between MSF's fall and the Diamond Dogs' first visit to Central Africa.[4]

The modern PMC market developed with the end of the Cold War era, when a number of factors coincided to facilitate its rapid growth. With the end of the fifty-year standoff between the U.S. and the USSR, conflict became more diffuse and disordered. Many of the economic and social tensions that were exploited to fuel Cold War competition in parts of the Third World remained acute. Many postcolonial client states of the two superpowers collapsed into internal conflict with the absence of their former backers, especially in Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The breakdown of state control in a number of areas produced new civil and ethnic conflicts. This caused an increase of small-scale conflicts all around the world.

The collapse of state institutions weakened their powers relative to non-state actors, "pav[ing] the way for ethnic mobilization, transnational criminal activity, warlords, rebels, and paramilitaries." Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and multinational corporations (MNCs) who sought to operate in these areas could not rely on the weakened state apparatus to protect their operations, encouraging them to look to other sources for localized protection and order.

The large-scale decommissioning of forces at the end of the Cold War, as was the case in past conflicts, produced a global pool of newly unemployed individuals whose careers during the Cold War left them with a predominantly military-oriented skillset. One estimate puts this worldwide number at approximately seven million soldiers; in the former Soviet bloc and South Africa, entire units were dismissed from duty, including elite special forces, and the U.S. military shrank by a third from its wartime peak. This new pool of military human capital was complemented by the large-scale post-Cold War sale of surplus arms and materials, particularly in Russia and Eastern Europe. The growth in the global arms trade drove down prices on small arms — and even heavy weaponry — and made the instruments of warfare readily accessible to non-state actors.

PMCs predominantly operate in three battlespace zones: front-line command and combat operations; training and advisory programs; and logistical support services. It is considered more cost effective to contract PMCs than to increase national military budgets maintaining a national army, since it doesn't require spending on logistics, maintenance or buying state of the art weapons. Another advantage is that the PMC personnel that die in combat is not considered KIA, and thus are largely ignored by the public and the news media.

The war economy[]

See: War economy


PMC effects on the world as of the War Economy.

As a result, PMC-spawned "surrogate wars" spread across the world since the end of the 20th century. Also known as the 21st century's "surrogate Cold War," the increase of regional conflict and demand for PMCs helped companies rake in a fortune and gradually increase their military power, while an exodus of retired soldiers infused them with years of experience.


The Mk.17 SCAR-H assault rifle was the primary weapon used by all Outer Heaven PMCs.

National militaries slowly weakened as their reliance on PMCs increased, with 60% of the world's armaments placed in the hands of private enterprise. Of the world's five biggest PMCs, two were located in the United States, with the other three located in France, Britain, and Russia. Their clients could be found mainly in America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. As a direct result, it also increased refugee rates as well as the hiring of child soldiers.

Profits from PMCs were infused back into the American economy, allowing the country to expand its own battlefield operations. U.S. capital followed the U.S. military wherever it went, leading to an expansion of American marketplaces. With war as the product, money flowed back into PMC hands, continuing the cycle. With mercenary wars where troops flock to the highest bidder, stable profit became the biggest concern, and the battlefield soon turned into another marketplace driven by greed. With many battlefields left in the hands of PMCs, and states concerned about their own security and profit, PMCs had become an essential entity on the world stage, thus giving birth to the so-called "war economy", just as the Patriots had wanted.

In tune with the war economy, numerous smaller and local scaled PMCs were also prevalent, such as in the Middle East, where private operators were hired as battlefield commanders and trainers for local militias. Most of these militiamen actually belonged to another PMC, where most of the local men turned to for employment out of desperation. The rebel army Solid Snake fought with in South America also managed to hire their own PMC for assistance.

Guns of the Patriots Incident[]

By 2014, the five largest PMCs all worked under a single mother-company named Outer Heaven, which was in turn ultimately headed by Liquid Ocelot. They were so large that they combined would rival the manpower of the U.S. military. Solid Snake initially thought they were the same as the mercenaries that he fought in the past when told of this, until Campbell told him otherwise.[5] Logistically, technologically, and tactically advantaged, they were deployed all over the globe with the use of high-end technology on the battlefield, and could come in and out of any conflict with minimal casualties. Minor PMCs were also involved in the war economy, such as those aiding the Middle Eastern militiamen and the South American rebels. The PMCs ended up crippled after the War Economy not only collapsed, but the Patriots' AI network also ended up destroyed along with SOP.

Post-Guns of the Patriots[]

Warning: The following information is from outside Hideo Kojima's core "Metal Gear Saga." Its canonicity within the continuity is disputed, therefore reader discretion is advised.[?]

With the fall of SOP, the world's major PMCs have splintered into countless smaller entities sparking new conflicts around the globe. Some of the PMCs ended up becoming known as "Private Military and Security Companies." Some were involved in relief work for rebuilding a developing country that had underwent a massive civil war. Raiden ended up joining one of these PMCs, named Maverick Security Consulting, Inc. for VIP protection, military training, and other duties, as a means to support his family without having to return to direct combat. Another PMC, Desperado Enforcement LLC., primarily took missions for terrorists and criminals.

World Marshal Incident[]

See also: Raid at World Marshal, Ambush in Africa, Abkhazian Coup, Investigation in Guadalajara, Raid in Denver, and Operation Tecumseh

During their mission in the country, both Maverick and Desperado's paths had crossed and resulted in an attack that resulted in Raiden ended up having his left arm cut off and severely wounded, and his left eye completely destroyed; after a run-in with an anonymous renegade Cyborg Ninja named Samuel Rodrigues, causing Maverick personnel, upon receiving it, to transfer and retrieve files that were stored on it, although corrupted files forced them to retrieve them on a weekly basis. In addition, the circumstances of his arm's removal and the transfer of files was also kept strictly classified, so as to prevent competing PMCs from gaining access.[6]

Besides Maverick and Desperado, there was also one other PMC during this time: the Colorado-based World Marshal, Inc., which thanks to the events of the Guns of the Patriots Incident, and the splitting up of the five PMCs that made up Outer Heaven, led to World Marshal becoming the largest PMC in the world. Besides its status as a PMC, it also owned the Denver Police Department thanks to small-government legislation made by then Colorado state senator Steven Armstrong that resulted in the slashing of most government funding, and was also backed by Armstrong as well (which led to an investigation by a grand jury in 2016), and it possessed enough influence to have the United States military launch MQ-320s outside of official channels. In addition, there was also a PMC based in Russia that specialized in air force-like duties, which was headed by a former acquaintance of Maverick PMC commander Boris Vyacheslavovich Popov during the Cold War.[7]

Non-"Metal Gear Saga" information ends here.

List of PMCs, operating circa 1984[]

Diamond Dogs[]

Rogue Coyote[]

Contract Forces of Africa[]

Zero Risk Security[]

  • Based in Central Africa
  • Deployed to Central Africa
  • Members: Zero Risk Security Commander (Commander), Various Soldiers
  • Deployed Various Vehicles, and Walker Gears

Mosquito Stinger Force[]

  • Based in the North Pacific Ocean
  • Deployed to the Seychelles
  • Members: Mosquito (Commander), Various Soldiers

No Alert[]

  • Based in the North Atlantic Ocean
  • Members: Various Soldiers

Kill Count[]

  • Based in the Indian Ocean, the North Pacific Ocean, and the South Pacific Ocean
  • Members: Various Soldiers


  • (dispatch missions only)
  • Dispatched to southern Africa, South America, Western Sahara, West Asia, and western Africa

List of PMCs, operating circa 2014[]

Outer Heaven[]

Praying Mantis[]

"A sense of duty when the risks run high"
―Praying Mantis slogan
  • Based in the UK.
  • Deployed in the Middle East, to fight the local militia soldiers.
  • Vehicles used include Strykers, Humvees, Gekkos, and Sliders

Pieuvre Armement[]

"Arms of the octopus, arms for your war"
―Pieuvre Armement slogan
  • Based in France.
  • Deployed in South America, fighting with the South American state army against the local guerilla soldiers.
  • lit. "Octopus Armaments"
  • Vehicles used include Strykers, Gekkos, and Sliders.

Raven Sword[]

"Never a shot in the dark"
―Raven Sword slogan
  • Based in the U.S.
  • Deployed in Eastern Europe, in efforts to root out the Paradise Lost Army, led by Big Mama.
  • Also deploy Humvees, Gekkos, and Sliders.


"Evolution reinvented"
―Werewolf slogan

Otselotovaya Khvatka[]

"No peace without war "
―Otselotovaya Khvatka slogan
  • Based in Russia.
  • Оцелотовая Хватка, lit. "Ocelot's Grasp", English: "Clawing Ocelot"[8]
  • Vehicles used include Mikoyan MiG-29s, MiG-3s, and Hinds.[9]

Minor PMCs[]

Middle Eastern militiamen[]

  • Based in the Middle East.
  • Fighting against a local regime.
  • Also deploys IFV BMP-3s, Ural transport trucks, and D9R Caterpillar armored bulldozers.

South American rebel soldiers[]

  • Based in South America.
  • Fighting against a local regime.
  • Also deploys Ural transport trucks and D9R Caterpillar armored bulldozers.
Warning: The following information is from outside Hideo Kojima's core "Metal Gear Saga." Its canonicity within the continuity is disputed, therefore reader discretion is advised.[?]

Other PMCs (post-war economy)[]

Maverick Security Consulting, Inc.[]

  • Based in Nevada.
  • Deployed to Africa, to reconstruct a country after a devastating civil war; later pursued missions against Desperado Enforcement LLC. after it ruined one of their missions.
  • Also deployed APCs and the MQ-133C flying wing aircraft (the latter being on loan).
  • Members: Raiden (field agent); Courtney Collins (data analyst); Kevin Washington (military advisor); Boris Vyacheslavovich Popov (field commander/president)

Other PMCs (date of establishment indeterminant)[]

Although the following were in operation after the war economy, it is not made clear whether they had been established after the war economy or before it.

Desperado Enforcement LLC.[]

  • Officially based in Delaware, but had most of their financials taken care of outside of Delaware, or even the United States of America as a whole (specifically, St. Kitts and Nevis).
  • Deployed to Abkhazia to support an Abkhazian coup led by terrorist Andrey Dolzaev. Also deployed to Africa to ruin the newly-re-established order and peace by killing prime minister N'mani. Was also involved in the human trafficking and drug trade, specifically for the Sears Program.
  • Also deployed Stryker APCs, Hammerheads, Gekko, Dwarf Gekko, Mastiffs, Vodomerkas, Grads, Sliders, and Raptors. Was primarily composed of cyborgs.
  • Members: Sundowner (de facto leader); Mistral (captain); Monsoon (captain); Khamsin; Samuel Rodrigues (non-member affiliate, 2016-2018)

World Marshal Inc.[]

  • Based in Denver, Colorado.
  • Deployed to Shabhazabad, Pakistan to target the American base (unofficial)
  • Deployed Stryker APCs, Sliders, Grads, Mastiffs, Hammerheads, Sliders, Raptors, Gekko, and Dwarf Gekko. Also can arrange for the US Military to launch MQ-320s.
  • Members: Steven Armstrong (financial backer/leader)

Private military company (Doktor)[]

  • Deployed to Denver, Colorado to aid Raiden in retrieving brain canisters.
  • Clientel: Doktor.
  • Deployed a transport chopper.
Non-"Metal Gear Saga" information ends here.

Behind the scenes[]

The Russian PMC Otselotovaya Khvatka can be seen in the TV commercials at the beginning of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, though it is not featured in the main game itself. Some fans previously believed that they were FROGS, due to the commercial featuring female soldiers. However, this is unlikely considering that the FROGS are Liquid Ocelot's personal unit.

Despite originating in different countries, the PMC soldiers in Metal Gear Solid 4 all speak with American accents. The PA announcers for Praying Mantis and Pieuvre Armement, however, do speak with articulate British and French accents, respectively.

In Acts 1 and 2, shortly before the PA announcements for Praying Mantis and Pieuvre Armement, respectively, there is a jingle that plays. The jingle, nicknamed the 5PM Bell, is taken from PSA announcements on Japan's various cities and trains, being used to ensure people don't miss the important announcements.[10]



See also[]

Notes and references[]

  1. ^ Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kojima Productions (2010).
    Kazuhira Miller: Listen to me, Snake. We're not mercenaries. We're not a Foreign Legion. MSF's a business. A new kind of business.
  2. ^ The Gurlukovich Mercenaries and the Militaires Sans Frontières were described as such by the Colonel and Professor Gálvez in the Big Shell Incident and the Peace Walker Incident, respectively.
  3. ^ This is implied in a Codec conversation with Otacon in 2014, regarding the Dwarf Gekko.
  4. ^ Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima Productions (2015)
    Episode 13: Pitch Dark
    Benedict "Kazuhira" Miller: The war industry we started has taken a pretty crooked course these past nine years. With no other options, soldiers have become dogs of war sent to conflict zones as "private forces," or PFs. Guys we fought alongside are dying alongside the globe for no reason - no banner. But it's how they survive. The demand for PFs here in Africa is especially high. Cold War standoffs, resource exploitation, tribal clashes... What's big business for developed countries has only brought conflict here. That mess you're standing in... is just the latest example.
  5. ^ Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Kojima Productions (2008).
    Solid Snake: Every age has its mercenary. These PMCs are nothing new - we've been dealing with them since before the turn of the century. // Roy Campbell: No, Snake. They're nothing like the mercenaries of the past.
  6. ^ Raiden's arm letter, included with Raiden's arm as a bonus from Game Informer and EGM.
  7. ^ This is mentioned in a Codec conversation regarding the MQ-133C. Raiden also implies in this conversation that a PMC dedicated to air force duties had not existed at the time of the Patriots destruction of 2014.
  8. ^ Metal Gear Solid 4 Database, Kojima Productions (2008).
    Relationship Chart > 2014 > Act 1-4 debriefing
  9. ^ Otselotovaya Khvatka TV Spot
  10. ^