Shadow Company

By Onnesha Roychoudhuri

During the first Gulf War, there was one private military contract (PMC) employee for every 100 soldiers. In today's Iraq war, that ratio has risen dramatically to one PMC for every 10 soldiers. It's figures like this that make Nick Bicanic's new documentary, "Shadow Company," such an eye-opener. Nation-states are paying private companies to provide armed civilians, in lieu of soldiers, on an unprecedented scale. Yet, aside from a handful of allegations about contract workers firing on innocent civilians, little is known about PMCs. In January 2004, Bicanic, of Purpose Films, began a correspondence with a friend who had joined a private military company and was stationed in Baghdad. Through the pseudonymous "James," who provides narration throughout "Shadow Company," and hundreds of hours of interviews, Bicanic became aware of how much of the war effort was being run by PMCs. "I realized that this film really had to be made because the rules of war had changed, and there was a relevant message about modern warfare that wasn't coming across in other media," he says.