In era of shrinking armed forces, America turns to private firms to carry out foreign military aid.
Washington--faced with more overseas commitments and fewer resources, the US is increasingly relying on private military companies to do some of its most difficult international jobs.
 These aren't the mercenaries who parachute into hot spots, guns blazing, for cold cash. But they're controversial nonetheless.
 Over the past 10 years, private military companies, or PMCs, have quietly taken a central role in the exporting of security, strategy, and training for foreign militaries.
 In the process, PMCs are raising questions about the privatization of foreign policy, and whether a profit-seeking company can be accountable with limited government oversight. Oftentimes the companies are training armies in turbulent areas. And, once granted an export license, they are minimally supervised.
 "The worry tends to have less to do with the people involved than it has to do with the policy in place," says Deborah Avant, a George Washington University expert who is writing a book on PMCs. "It's a tool for foreign policy in a less public way--and that is not a good thing in the long term."