Before becoming vice president, Dick Cheney once bragged about the omnipresence of his former company, Brown & Root, in the conduct of US foreign policy, saying, ‘the fi rst person to greet our soldiers as they arrive in the Balkans and the last one to wave good-bye is one of our employees’.1 Although speaking specifi cally about the fi rm’s role in the Balkans crisis of the 1990s, Cheney’s comment refl ected a larger phenomenon that has grown exponentially over the years since. That phenomenon is the United States government’s reliance upon private corporations to meet its foreign policy objectives. Today, hundreds of private corporations operate under contract with the government to provide services too numerous to count. Their presence mushroomed in the years following the end of the Cold War. Now, hundreds of companies specializing in tasks once carried out by military personnel compete for federal contracts supporting the US military operations around the world. From 1994 to 2002, the US government signed over 3,000 contracts worth an estimated $300 billion with private fi rms.2