Private security companies, which employ those who have served in the armed forces or in some other security capacity, have always had a mystique, seemingly operating beyond the control of governments. Besides working for corporations, governments contract them to provide security, sometimes in hotspots.
One such flashpoint was Iraq, where in 2007 four Blackwater security contractors killed 14 unarmed Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. Blackwater became a byword for unchecked private military activity. The four contractors were convicted in 2014, and President Donald Trump pardoned them in December 2020. (These are companies that changed their names after scandals.)
Given the security trends around the world, private security companies are getting bigger. To determine the world’s four largest private armies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the Contract Security Industry White Paper from Robert H. Perry & Associates, a broker for manned guarding companies. Companies were ranked based on global revenue for the most recent year available. (Also see, the largest armies in history.)
More and more large and small companies are outsourcing their security needs to private firms. These private security companies offer a suite of services: alarms and alarm response units, licensed security guards, surveillance, airport and border patrol, security crisis management, special events security oversight, and consulting and investigations services.
Private security companies have a presence on every continent and employ thousands of people, providing security needs to hospitals, financial institutions, chemical and petroleum manufacturers, commercial real estate firms, and local, state, and federal governments.
Global demand for security services is forecast to rise 3.6% per year to $263 billion by 2024, according to a 2020 report from Freedonia Global Security Services. Growth will be driven by the increased in-house security outsourcing as well as an increase in electronics security offerings.