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Intro:

In my story, there’s an organization VERY similar to S.H.I.E.L.D. from the MCU (Pre Winter Soldier). The changes though are that this organization is more heavily rooted in realism and the modern era, along with being structured more like a PMC (Private Military Contractor). I’ll provide the main question and additional info below. Any questions let me know and I’ll try to answer them! Sorry in advance for any confusion!

Question:

My main question is, how would such an organization have a multi-billion dollar a year budget?

Additional info: (Feel free to explain why if any of these are unreasonable)

  • Estimated minimal budget of $6 billion USD/year

  • Not a government body (It is not a U.N. force)

  • May receive government money but can not be subservient because of this to any one or coalition of governments

  • Exists to provide a third party who is strong enough to enforce & promote human rights. Law used is a decently legalistic look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • Should be as neutral as possible

  • Should primarily focus on security issues not being 99% a company and 1% a global security force on the side

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    $\begingroup$ When you say "exists to provide a third party who is strong enough to enforce international law and promote human rights" - who wants them to exist for this reason? And whose definitions of "international law" and "human rights" are they using? $\endgroup$ – Cadence Apr 10 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ Kind of a post-9/11 A-team where everybody has the common sense of Murdoch, the brains of Hannibal, the body of Baracus, and the looks of Faceman. I mean it... everybody. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 10 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ This is a bizarre question. There is a lot of material on how the Mafia works, by extorting protection money. Nice little human right you have here. It would be ashamed if somebody came and infriged on it. You must pay me ecks dollars a week to protect it. As for those 6 (six!) billion dollars: the Romanian defense budget is some 4 billion dollars per year, and I can assure you that the Romanian army is very far from being able to enfore anything worldwide. P.S. By definition a state has the monopoly of violence on its territory; an infringing organization is called organized crime. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 10 at 22:34
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    $\begingroup$ ^this. Sorry, but the basic forces of capitalism and geopolitics tank this concept. It would receive funding from whatever unscrupulous forces have the need for an unaccountable military. And it would have a corresponding absence of ethical mooring. Just look at the mob and actually-existing PMCs for an idea of what this is destined for. $\endgroup$ – user49466 Apr 10 at 22:44
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    $\begingroup$ You are trying to make SHIELD but I think you'll end up with COBRA. $\endgroup$ – MongoTheGeek Apr 11 at 18:20
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What you want is a military-contracter incarnation based on the model of the Red Cross on steroids.

  1. Estimated minimal budget of $6 billion USD/year

  2. Not a government body (It is not a U.N. force)

  3. May receive government money but can not be subservient because of this to any one or coalition of governments

  4. Exists to provide a third party who is strong enough to enforce & promote human rights. Law used is a decently legalistic look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  5. Should be as neutral as possible

  6. Should primarily focus on security issues not being 99% a company and 1% a global security force on the side

The Red Cross is a non-government, non-profit organisation. This ticks points 2, 3, 5 and possibly 4.

The Red Cross receives contributions from governments, from international and supranational entities, from companies and from individuals.

The Red Cross not only provides disaster relief in the third world, they have operations world wide, also in rich countries. E.g. in many European countries the Red Cross provides ambulance services. These services are generally paid for by the government, yet the Red Cross is not subservient.


For point 1, you need to come up with a business case, such that your security organisation can earn enough money doing security for rich countries or companies, such that they can take their role as stated in point 4. Earning their budget by doing security also ticks off point 6.

Updated to add:

A potential business case for your organisation could be to provide services to small countries, which are done traditionally by the military. It can be much cheaper for small countries to hire your organisation to provide an AirForce-as-a-service, than to invest and maintain an air force of its own.

In the real world, the NATO provides the Air Force for Iceland.

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The most obvious answer would be a funding model that is currently used to raise over $400 billion in the US alone:

Operate it as a non-profit, and ask for money...

If the organization does as much good for the world as described, then it should be easy to get at least $1 a year from every human on average.

This already nets you over the $6 billion a year target.

Further and more bulk funding could come direct from businesses: It is in many businesses's best interest to ensure peace in the regions they operate in, as it is far easier to sell stuff to people if they're not running for their lives, and cost overheads are reduced if your equipment isn't frequently blown up.

These deals can come as both a "Cost of doing business" model for them, and as a good will driven thing: Customers like buying from companies who publicly support the people who defend the world.

Additionally income could come from nations effectively outsourcing part of their security budget on a contractor basis. [A rough example can kind of be seen in Canadian policing, where local governments have frequently opted to contract policing services from the National Police force rather than maintaining their own independent local services. However you would replace a private enterprise in place of the federal RCMP] Rather than attempting to maintain their own standing army, or as additional forces to supplement their core armed forces, contract out all the training and equipment costs to a trusted third party.

This "Trusted Third Party" status may also attract the interest of governments in regions with poor stability: If potentially warring neighbours both agree to hire services from a trusted third party, who would refuse to go support a war along side an aggressor, then they could both spend far less to maintain a defence force: Both sides maintain a defence force while not escalating appearances of being "aggressive" which are met in kind from the other side.

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    $\begingroup$ I love this! "We are a not-for-profit private security organization operating globally and above the law for the purpose of protecting the welfare of YOU! Please visit our GoFundMe page to learn how YOU can advance the cause of freedom and bring an end to global terrorism! Your contribution is tax deductible. Thank you." $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 10 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ I think they would be more "Upholding the principles of International Law", rather than "being above the law". ... Well, maybe "Slightly beside the law..." sort of thing? However ensuring it doesn't collapse into a "Brotherhood of NOD" sort of thing would be a neat trick that I leave to other people. $\endgroup$ – TheLuckless Apr 10 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ :-) You've got me on that one! "...operating within and never demonstrably above international and local law...." It's all in the marketing. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 10 at 22:34
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First, it needs to operate under some sort of a legal framework. So it would be established by some sort of treaty countries could ratify. Realistically we are probably talking about EU, Japan and few other countries that use economic and political pressure to make countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia ratify it.

Countries such as the US, Russia, China and Israel would reject idea outright. The idea of outside force enforcing human rights on them would be politically too corrosive to touch. The Arab countries would also avoid this because they have issues with the definition of human rights. They might still cooperate and support the organization unofficially on a case by case basis.

In fact the above might be a good explanation of why it must be held separate from the UN and other organizations the above groups are members of. They'd simply have to oppose such organization for reasons of internal politics and nothing would get done.

So where would the organization come from? Well, there would have to be some sort of a crisis where human rights were majorly violated but direct government intervention would have been a pain. This is fairly realistic in that major powers do not really like other major powers having large occupation forces in other countries. And tax payers do not like paying for such armies. Or reading about the inevitable casualties.

But the crisis was urgent so instead a it was decided to create a military contractor to do the job with mercenaries and authorize them to do the job of overthrowing the government with oversight, funding and volunteers from participating governments.

The result is the military contractor occupying the target country. And its resources.

If we then assume that the operation was a great success, ie the problem was solved and none of the dirt got attached to politicians, and that another crisis happened before the military force was not disbanded, it would be only natural to use the same solution for that crisis as well.

And to fund it with the resources of the first target.

Basically the new civilian government established for target nations would give the contractor a cut of the profits of the their resources to pay for maintaining security and overseeing human rights and good governance.

In practice, the contractor would hold the resources independent of the host nation and provide funding for those civilian projects it approves of. And the host nation would not have any military force or money to fund one to challenge the contractor.

This would be really neo-colonialism but with it only happening to countries where people have very good reasons to not trust their own government with either soldiers or money, it might genuinely be the lesser evil. It would certainly be possible to sell it as such to people on another continent getting all their information about it from your slick PR campaign.

So the answer to your question would be: oil, gold, diamonds, copper and other mineral resources.

Since the contractor would need significant areas of land to use as base of operations and those areas would be outside the jurisdiction of the host country, these "company districts" would quickly acquire significant population and economy. So tax income from that would also become a source of income as the economies recover from the initial crisis.

Additionally, the contractor would also invest some of the money it gets directly to "host nations" to "support economic recovery". It would make profit from those investments.

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My favorite series of videogames is about an organization that works as you described.

X-Com is a supranational defense force against aliens. Governments pay large sums of money to X-Com because the alternative is not having X-Com defending their territories. Besides money, governments also send scientists and engineers to work for X-Com.

X-Com will sometimes raid alien bases around the planet (in the original games; in the remake they only do it once). But most of the time X-Com goes where the aliens strike, which can be anywhere, anytime.

X-Com also sells alien corpses and artifacts to the highest-bidders, which are hinted at being governments. This is done through a black market, though, so we can neither confirm or deny that.


So there you have it. All you need is some kind of threat that can strike anywhere in the globe and the capacity to deal with it, and governments will be more than happy to pay their bill with you.

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A Benefit Corporation could file the bill. There is nothing that prevents any of the extant private security, or mercenary organizations from reorganizing as a benefit corporation with global security as part of the mission statement. They could be hired by various governments (or other companies) that stability elsewhere while still keeping clean hands and plausible deniability.

The current situation in Venezuela would be a perfect use. There is a definite humanitarian crisis going on which is largely caused by the questionably legitimate government. The US and Canada and Europe are motivated to help for social and economic reasons. (Stability in Venezuela will lower world energy prices which is good for the economy)

The US Army rolling in would be overkill, followed by block to block siege warfare by the remaining government agents and local strongmen. The visuals would be bad since it would be seen as an attempt to steal the oil.

The Red Cross has been stopped at the border and when it has gotten through relief supplies have been stolen and sold on the black market.

The middle ground would be private contractors delivering supplies. Moving in with an arrangement to supply food and water, rebuild and protect infrastructure. Since they aren't a government they can operate with more flexibility. (Stop shooting, we want to give you a job shooting in the other direction!)

In addition to employees providing security and logistics / humanitarian aid there would be propaganda wing. They would run Starship Troopers style propaganda letting the world know what good they were doing. Contractors in bright clean uniforms giving food and water to smiling children. At the end of the ad is a url to "Write your congressman to support our efforts."

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Vampman

With all due respect to your question and to you

First off PMC's aren't neutral. They serve their own self-interest. They promote themselves and actually increase conflict and violence typically. They aren't in the business to go out of business. Their presence in areas you want to make secure is destabilizing and they know it but promote themselves as agents of stability. Why? Because it's profitable. See this article from Gooogle Scholar

Anna Leander, 2005 The Market for Force and Public Security: The Destabilizing Consequences of Private Military Companies* Journal of Peace Research, vol. 42, no. 5, 2005, pp. 605–622

$6 billion USD/year is peanuts when it comes to defense and security contracts. Blackwater earned $1billion in security contracts between 2003 to 2006. There are dozens of security firms out there. Killing people in the third world and guarding oil fields and mines for corporations is big money.

No PMC is going to be "a third party who is strong enough to enforce & promote human rights." That's like saying you want a military dictatorship that promotes democracy. PMC's market themselves in this way. They say they are a solution to the problem of violence and conflict but they are a source of same.

How could it be a "private" force and not be 99% a company? What do you mean by global security? Who decides what that means? The company owner? How could one entity serve the entire globe? What does it promote free-markets?

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