United Press International reports that the use of force by private security contractors (PSCs) is extremely rare, according to congressional testimony by Jack Bell (pictured), the deputy under secretary of defense for logistics and material readiness.
"He said that between August 2004 and February 2008, 'a period of rampant insurgency and sectarian violence in Iraq,' there were 19,268 contractor convoys run for the U.S. military. There were 1,441 attacks against them. But in only 151 cases -- less than 1 percent of convoys overall, and just over 10 percent of those that were attacked -- was the discharge of firearms by [PSC] personnel reported. And in some of these 151 incidents, only warning shots or disabling shots aimed at vehicles were involved."
UPI points out that these figures are for PSCs operating with the Pentagon and does not include those under State Department contract; "nonetheless, these figures and documents challenge the popular conception of PMCs as out-of-control 'cowboys.'"