Private military contractors (PMCs) are increasingly ubiquitous in international conflicts, providing security, transport services, and even fighting alongside commissioned troops in battle. Yet for the United States, the ambiguity surrounding PMCs’ role in war presents a serious threat to the constitutional balance of war powers. The Founding Fathers deliberately divided those powers between the executive and legislative branches, aware of the dangers of concentrating them too heavily; and Congress further clarified protocol with the War Powers Resolution in 1973. But the War Powers Resolution, which requires the President to notify Congress when engaging "U.S. Armed Forces" in battle, omits any reference to PMCs—a loophole the executive could exploit to take action abroad without Congressional knowledge or approval. Congress must either revise the War Powers Resolution to include PMCs or else pass new legislation regulating their use if it hopes to prevent executive overreach and an increasing reliance on hired guns to fight America's battles.
Wheeler, McKinney Voss
"Private Military Contractors: The Armed Forces Absent from the War Powers Resolution,"
American University National Security Law Brief,
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/nslb/vol12/iss1/2