I see three areas of focus coming out of this new conflict, that PMSC’s will be crucial for. The first is security services for private interest throughout the Sahel. In the articles below, I have listed all the actions of companies in Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, and Mali, and it is one of reaction to the events in Mali. The Islamists are targeting western interest as a way of hitting back at France and the west, and the hostage crisis in Algeria is a prime example.
The services I see as crucial would be an increase in PSD services, kidnap and ransom services, static security reviews and manpower increases at facilities, and evacuation services.
The second area of focus for PMSC’s would be logistics, and especially as the conflict drags on and the ECOWAS force comes into play. Whatever force they come up with, it is being drawn from the poorest nations in the area, and this army will have nothing in the way of equipment or support. So I could see the typical players for logistics stepping up for this conflict. The AMISOM mission is a good example of what I am talking about and I believe the main players there are Dyncorp, PAE, and Bancroft Global Development.
Perhaps because this is France’s deal, there might be more emphasis on using French PMSC’s? On the other hand, if the US is footing the bill for training up this ECOWAS force, then it will be their choice for who will support the mission. There will be plenty to choose from and we will see how this pans out?
The final area of focus will be training. I really think the model here will be something like what is going on with AMISOM for Somalia. The forces of ECOWAS will have very little to no experience fighting in deserts or fighting an insurgency. You need a robust training program that will meet then needs of such a mission. Not only that, but you must also account for the education levels of those forces being sent in the first place. So training will be vital to the success of France and the west in Mali, and this will be a long term effort much like how AMISOM has turned out.
I could even see some contracts coming up that are focused on training the new government of Mali. Training, mentoring, and support for both the government and the military, will all be possible contracts in the future for companies.
Overall though, I don’t give Mali much hope unless it figures out it leadership and government. Hopefully the new government will come together and stay focused, but these things tend to be really messy if we look at past experiences. Yet again, I point to Somalia as the model of how messy this could be. Mali must have a leader or leaders that the people (and soldiers) can support and even fight for. The west can expend millions of dollars on training this military to expel the jihadists from the north, but Mali must have a solid government or ‘foundation’ to build from in order to keep the jihadists and military in check, now and well into the future. -Matt
Edit: 01/20/2013- I wanted to add two more articles that detailed the efforts of energy firms throughout the region. Either companies are boosting security, or they are evacuating folks just to be safe.
The Energy Giants at Most Risk in Northern Africa
Security experts said Algerian authorities may now need to rethink the way security is handled, allowing more foreign involvement in the process.In other high-risk resource-rich countries, such as Iraq, foreign companies commonly employ private Western security companies that are staffed by armed expatriates. Algeria, in contrast, keeps the majority of armed security personnel local, said one security consultant.Typically in Algeria, an oil company hires a foreign contractor to advise on security or to head a team, but the majority of the personnel carrying arms are limited to Algerians, the person said. Some of that security is provided by companies set up by retired Algerian generals, the person said.The system could result in lower-quality security, he said. “Even before the French were in Mali, Algeria hasn’t been the safest place to operate in for a long time,” the security consultant said.
Algeria crisis triggers Libya, Egypt oil security review
Jan 18 2013
* Libya says boost oilfield protection in south
* Italy’s ENI biggest operator across the border
* Some firms in Egypt say reviewing security
* Staff evacuation, tighter security to raise costs,
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Ron Bousso
Libya rushed to beef up security at its oil fields and energy firms were considering similar measures in Egypt as Islamist militants threatened to attack new installations in north Africa.
More than 20 foreigners were still being held hostage or missing inside Algeria’s In Amenas gas plant on Friday after Algerian forces stormed the desert complex near the Libyan border to free hundreds of captives taken by Islamist militants.
Hundreds of workers were evacuated from a number of Algerian production sites on the border with Libya to safer places in the country’s centre and industry experts said that could ultimately lead to lower oil and gas production from the OPEC member state.