War is sometimes fought by soldiers who have no allegiance to any country and who are also paid for doing so. In many modern wars we see these type of soldiers and surprisingly the history or mercenaries, or private military contractors stretch back over 3000 years. This article will explore the meaning and history of these 'soldiers of fortune.'
History Of Military Contracting
A military contractor, mercenary, or soldier of fortune can be described as an individual who participates in activities relating to military conflict on behalf of a third party who reimburses these soldiers and/or private companies monetarily. Many wars and conflicts around the world have been fought using this type of soldier who is not aligned to any nation or ruler, they are aligned to getting paid for their services, whatever that may be. Some of the earliest records obtainable show up to 11,000 mercenaries worked for Pharaoh Ramesses II during his battles around 1300 B.C! These soldiers were usually recruited from a region known as Nubia, which is now modern day Northern Africa. Throughout history since this point in time, many governments have needed to call upon private military contractors in order to achieve military goals.
Modern Military Contractors
Modern military contractors can range from armed forces such as the Swiss Guard, private companies who will sell their services to foreign governments, such as Blackwater, and even unorganized militia groups or individuals, which also includes mercenaries from many different countries operating within Syria and Iraq today. The Free Syria army has accused Syrian President Al-Assad has been using mercenary soldiers from Iran and neighboring Lebanon during the modern day Syrian Civil War. Another example of modern day mercenaries is when there was a small uprising in Yemen, by the Houthi people. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates used Blackwater soldiers from Latin America and Africa in order to violently extinguish the uprising. Many of these examples see these soldiers operating outside of any law or governing body since they have no allegiances, except for being paid. Infamous mercenary soldiers who have served in modern conflicts include George Bacon, Andrew J. Moonen, and Jackie Arkov, to name just a few.
It can be argued that mercenary warfare could be a potential danger in years to come, with some private military companies possessing more power and resources than entire nations do. Mercenary soldiers are also not subject to the Laws of International War (Geneva Convention), which is concerning, considering some of the crimes committed in countries such as Iraq and Libya are by foreign soldiers. The privatization of war and soldiers, meaning they can be bought and sold, has created an industry that is extremely lucrative for some. Eric Prince, the founder of Blackwater, is worth an astonishing $2.4 billion due to the success of his private military company. This company pays up to $1000 per day for a soldier, which attracts a lot of ex-military personnel from various countries with questionable human rights records. Perhaps future wars will be fought between large corporations rather than nation states.
About the Author
Justin has a Bachelor's degree (Honors) in Political Science and Media and Communications, specializing in modern Middle Eastern politics. He has been writing for World Atlas since September 2016.
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