Episode 164: Mercenaries: Paid Soldiers and Modern Warfare

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On this episode of Sofa King Podcast, we talk about the use of mercenaries and soldiers for hire in the modern world. Of course people have heard of companies like Blackwater (which after several name changes is now called Acadami) and the work they did in Iraq with no-bid defense contractors. However, there are far more players than just them in the mercenary game, and they range from the noble to the murderous in their actions.

One such group is Executive Outcomes, formed in South Africa in the 1980s. This group helped to secure a democratic government in the country Sierra Leone (according to one side of history), and they are the model that all future merc groups followed. They provided soldiers, helicopters, aircraft, snipers, and anything else someone needed, all for pay.

Another group is the Aegis group, which is quite the opposite. They were given a contract in 2004 in Iraq, and within a year, they had failed to uphold four of their five contractual obligations, putting people’s lives in danger and getting people killed. We talk about the good and the bad of using private security firms and private armies.

Some of the good? Well, the soldiers are paid better and often have better equipment and training than a typical nation-state’s soldier. Also, when one dies, there is no political blowback to a president or any person who helped fund the private army. It wasn’t a US soldier who was killed, it was a private soldier (who was from the US and was defending US interests exactly like a soldier).

The downsides of course are the fact that these mercenaries often operate in lawless, broken nations, and they can get away with rape, murder, theft, and anything else they want. There is no government in the broken countries in which they operate, so all they have to do is flee the country. We also talk about the attempted British-led mercenary overthrow of Equatorial Guinea. So, what is the story of private soldiers? How many are there? How many countries do they operate in? How long have they been in existence? Listen, laugh, learn.

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