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What will our Mercs do when our wars wind down? Who will hire them?

16 August 2011

Summary:  Again we turn harsh lights on the future of America.  The US government has created a pool highly skilled mercs (on a base of people the government itself trained).  What will these people do when our wars wind down?  To create serious trouble only a few need sell their knowledge and experience to unfriendly regimes and criminal gangs.  Executive Outcomes has its roots in the Apartheid-era South African Special Forces.  A more disturbing warning comes from Mexcio.  Their gang wars went into hyperdrive with the formation of the Los Zetas Cartel from Mexico’s Special Forces, followed by the arrival of the Kaibiles (ex-Guatemala Special Forces).  This post summarizes previous posts about mercs.

For good reason mercenaries have been called “the dogs of war”.  Since the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648 the major western nations have worked to eliminate the scourge of mercenaries.  But changing circumstances have brought them back, as they have the ability to adapt more quickly than conventional military forces.

Roberts made the interesting observation that the great military revolutions throughout history generally coincided with the predominance of mercenaries. They possessed the necessary discipline and professional skill to create a revolution …
— from the entry on “Military Revolution” in the Oxford Companion to Military History.  Refers to Michael Roberts (1908-1996), historian and author of The Military Revolution 1560-1660 which described the “revolution in military affairs”.

Under the stress of the Long War, the Bush Jr Administration thoughtlessly accelerated the resurgence of mercs (aka Private Military Corporations).  The dangers of this are obvious to anyone watching events in Mexico.

Our finest troops now have an alternative market in which to sell their skills, one paying far more than America.  We have created a conflict between our soldiers’ patriotism and their families’ needs, a challenge whose dimensions cannot yet be seen – only imagined.  At the very least, we now bid against ourselves for their services.  This will likely move beyond our control, as markets usually do.

Looking ahead

Once the Long War ends (perhaps the conventional way, as we run out of money), what will unemployed mercs do?  Attempt to re-enlist  for a fraction of their current pay?  Or find another employer? Once a soldier kills for a dollar, unconnected to a national army, an invisible but real line has been crossed.  Inevitably some of our finest will eventually be working outside of our control.

That some American mercs will serve our enemies is a near certainty.  David worked as a merc for the Philistines.  El Cid, hero of the Reconquista (d. 1099), worked as a mercenary for both Christian and Muslim rulers.  Mohammed II hired Christian mercenaries, such as Urban of Hungary, to forge and operate the great cannon that broke the triple walls of Constantinople in 1453.  Countless other examples can be cited throughout history.  For more on this see “The new condottieri and US policy: The Privatization of Conflict and its implications“, Eugene B. Smith, Parameters, Winter 2002.

What consequences can we expect to see?  Knowledge moves with people. Hundreds of years of State-developed of tactics and training will become available to our 4GW enemies, those with the wit to take advantage of this opportunity. Only small numbers need “defect” for this to occur. Much of our advanced military technology is also available to anyone with the necessary money; hiring mercs gives “them” the ability to effectively use these weapons.

Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of this is that our massive national security apparatus has not considered this scenario (so far as I can see).

A note from the past

Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy.

The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed what they were.

The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli — CHAPTER XII: How Many Kinds Of Soldiery There Are, And Concerning Mercenaries

For more information about our mercs

  1. Militia – the ultimate defense against 4GW, 31 May 2008 – See Chapter 12 about mercs
  2. Don’t read this about Blackwater! Why ruin your illusions, so carefully manufactured by our government’s info ops., 2 November 2009
  3. Mercs spread special ops methods to corporations and (eventually) our, 17 September 2010
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26 Comments leave one →
  1. Teague Allen permalink
    16 August 2011 12:27 am

    Your point is taken, but the Zetas were bottled directly at the source: not mercenaries, but Mexican army personnel cut loose after the departure of the PRI from power. You blur the distinction between units created and controlled by national governments, and those employed but not really controlled. If the knowledge itself its what presents a danger, why wouldn’t US Marines be considered equally as hazardous as Blackwater?
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    FM reply: You are right about these points. This post is not presenting so granular an analysis. The message is simple.

    (1) We have created an unusually well-paid body of military specialists. As you note, special ops people are the extreme case, but the logic applies to elite mercs whatever their source (note that many of the mercs we employ are poorly trained, often from Third World nations) {correction to this, crossing out “elite”, as I meant that many mercs are NOT elite}.
    (2). When these wars cool (or when we step away from them), most of these mercs must find new employment. Many will find civilian jobs; many will retrain and do so. Some will not be able to maintain the same income or be unable to adjust to civilian life — and some of these will seek other employers. Ages of these will not limit their search to allies of the US (or to jobs in accord with US foreign policy).
    (3). The example I cited, such as the Zetas, show the demand for trained mercs — and the trouble they can cause disproportionate to their numbers.

    I do not see how this can be disputed as a likely (but of course not certain) scenario.

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  2. Duncan Kinder permalink
    16 August 2011 12:50 am

    While the Zetas are the obvious issue here and while John Robb likes to cite the Condottieris, given your classical bent, I’m sure you would appreciate being reminded of the numerous Greek mercenaries, such as Xenophon, who flooded the Mediterranean world following the Peloponnesian War.
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    FM reply: Exactly!

    Closer to home, there is the post-civil war wild west. Countless range wars and criminal gangs powered by veterans either with adjustment problems, or preferring the higher (if often briefer) income as gunmen to the hard and poorly paid work of cowboy.

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  3. norman broomhall permalink
    16 August 2011 12:56 am

    spot on

    Like

  4. 16 August 2011 3:06 am

    What will our Mercs do? They will entertain the DHS bureaucracy like vets did 17 April 2009:

    Veterans a Focus of FBI Extremist Probe“, Wall Street Journal, 17 April 2009

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this year launched a nationwide operation targeting white supremacists and “militia/sovereign-citizen extremist groups,” including a focus on veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to memos sent from bureau headquarters to field offices. The initiative, dubbed Operation Vigilant Eagle, was outlined in February, two months before a memo giving a similar warning was issued on April 7 by the Department of Homeland Security.

    Disclosure of the DHS memo this week has sparked controversy among some conservatives and veterans groups. Appearing on television talk shows Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defended the assessment, but apologized to veterans who saw it as an accusation. “This is an assessment of things just to be wary of, not to infringe on constitutional rights, certainly not to malign our veterans,” she said on NBC’s Today Show.

    The documents outlining Operation Vigilant Eagle cite a surge in activity by such groups. The memos say the FBI’s focus on veterans began as far back as December, during the final weeks of the Bush administration, when the bureau’s domestic counterterrorism division formed a special joint working group with the Defense Department.

    A Feb. 23 draft memo from FBI domestic counterterrorism leaders, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, cited an “increase in recruitment, threatening communications and weapons procurement by white supremacy extremist and militia/sovereign-citizen extremist groups.” The FBI said in the memo that its conclusion about a surge in such activities was based on confidential sources, undercover operations, reporting from other law-enforcement agencies and publicly available information. The memo said the main goal of the multipronged operation was to get a better handle on “the scope of this emerging threat.” The operation also seeks to identify gaps in intelligence efforts surrounding these groups and their leaders.

    The aim of the FBI’s effort with the Defense Department, which was rolled into the Vigilant Eagle program, is to “share information regarding Iraqi and Afghanistan war veterans whose involvement in white supremacy and/or militia sovereign citizen extremist groups poses a domestic terrorism threat,” according to the Feb. 23 FBI memo.

    Michael Ward, FBI deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, said in an interview Thursday that the portion of the operation focusing on the military related only to veterans who draw the attention of Defense Department officials for joining white-supremacist or other extremist groups. “We’re not doing an investigation into the military, we’re not looking at former military members,” he said. “It would have to be something they were concerned about, or someone they’re concerned is involved” with extremist groups. Mr. Ward said that the FBI’s general counsel reviewed the operation before it began, “to make sure any tripwires we set do not violate any civil liberties.”

    Some Republican lawmakers, talk-show hosts and veterans groups complained this week after the internal DHS assessment cited the potential for the same extremists groups to target returning combat veterans for recruitment. The Democratic chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, also echoed the concerns.

    The separate DHS assessment, leaked this week after being sent to law-enforcement agencies, said the “willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.” Veterans could draw special attention, the report said, because of their advanced training.

    Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, said Wednesday he was offended that veterans were characterized as potential domestic terrorists.

    Amy Kudwa, a DHS spokeswoman, said Thursday the report was issued before an objection about one part of the document raised by the agency’s civil-rights division was resolved. She called it a “breakdown of an internal process” that would be fixed.

    The FBI documents show the bureau was working with investigators inside the nation’s uniformed services “in an effort to identify those current or former soldiers who pose a domestic terrorism threat.” The other agencies working with the FBI are the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

    Documents detailing the operation are unclassified, but were meant for internal distribution only.

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  5. Saif Katana permalink
    16 August 2011 7:50 am

    “Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of this is that our massive national security apparatus has not considered this scenario (so far as I can see).”

    The interesting thing is that parts of the intelligence itself have been privatized as well.

    Like

  6. Pluto permalink
    16 August 2011 1:26 pm

    Good article as usual, FM. One small point, why do you believe the US will last longer than the wars we are fighting?

    Here’s my current count of conficts that involve the US:
    (1) Iraq – Mostly gone cold but could heat up again as sectarian violence forces the Maliki government to ask for US assistance. Initiated under Bush Jr.
    (2) Afghanistan – Enough said already. Initiated under Bush Jr.
    (3) Yemen – Special Forces ops and Drone flights. Unknown initiator, could be either Bush or Obama
    (4) Somalia – Drone flights and anti-piracy operations. Initiated under Bush Jr.
    (5) Libya – Assistance for sporatic NATO air attacks. Initiated under Obama.
    (6) Iran – Assistance to overthrow the current regime (I can’t figure out why we do this anymore, it never ends well), probably Special Forces ops and Drone flights. Initiated under Bush Jr.
    (7) Pakistan – Drone flights, Special Forces ops, and probably some major CIA shenannigans that the public doesn’t know about yet. Unknown initiator, could be either Bush or Obama
    (8) Mexico – US Intelligence agents are now committed to assisting the Mexican government in the drug war without informing them of what they are doing. Is there ANY possible way that can end well? Initiated under Obama. See CBS News for details.

    Obama is turning out to be a most war-like president. How did that happen? What will President Bachman or President Perry be like?
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    FM reply: I fear that is not a complete list. Should we include the South Phillippines, probably involving more US troops than bombing Libya? But the larger point is that other than Afghanistan these are all tiny wars, but expressions of the US military’s vast funding. Which adds to both the government’s fiscal deficit (i.e., its borrowed) and current account deficit. The latter is seldom mention, but equally important. This was one of the reason the UK shut down their bases in the post-imperial era, esp the middle east bases, which they wanted to keep (unlike much of the Empire, the locals wanted them to stay). As Paul Kennedy showed in “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers”, budgetary realities are often the decisive foes of large militaries.

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  7. Roberto Buffagni permalink
    16 August 2011 3:46 pm

    As for XV- XVI century Italy, the mercs and their “condottieri”, previously hired to fight in the endless wars between municipalities (almost always complicated by civil struggles where both parties asked for some stranger’s help), often ended taking power in the municipalities which had hired them.

    These coups often were saluted with a deep sigh of of relief by the populations, who certainly lost their cherished liberties and freedoms to the new Strong Man, but were also desperately fed up by the endless internecine struggles of the municipal oligarchies.

    By the way, the same oligarchies which in the past had usurped and stolen away from the less powerful citizen (let’s say “the middle classes”) the said liberties and freedom.

    So that the common citizen ended to think, “Better lose my freedom to a dictator who keeps the oligarchs at bay and guarantees law and order, than keep a formal freedom and lose its substance to a bunch of oligarchs who send their servants to fight in the middle of the road, killing and maiming whoever happens to be around or to be identified, rightly or wrongly, with the opposite party”.

    Then the former “condottieri” bought a princely title from the Emperor or the Papacy, and became (in their sons and nephews) those Italian Renaissance princes whom artists like Raffaello, Michelangelo, Leonardo worked for. So that somehow, this can be regarded ad a happy ending story, at least according to the progress of the liberal arts (when we regard it according the political destiny of Italy, we could expand in very different considerations).

    It’s the political situation which Shakespeare takes as a context for so many of his plays: let’s think to “Romeo and Juliet,” for example.

    Si parva licet, in “24 hours”, season 6 or 7, a firm like Blackwater tries to take possess of nuclear waepons, and to blackmail the U.S. government into giving them a large share of the formal and material power to dictate the US strategy and security, but Jack Bauer utterly defeats them.
    But I’m told that Jack Bauer has retired…
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    FM reply: Thank you for this interesting comment!

    From a broad perspective I believe there are few relevant parallels between the condottieri and today. Those were societies with primitive financial resources and disengaged citizens, so small pro armies could take over. The Napoleonic era (first generation warfare) saw the development of highly mobilized societies building mass armies equipped with cheap and easy to use weapons. The danger of mercs is, as I describe in this post, quite different MIO.

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  8. M Shannon permalink
    16 August 2011 4:01 pm

    The vast majority of US private security contractors may have been “highly” trained by governments but in most cases have been employed in low skill tasks- guarding gates or convoy escort and whatever skill set they had, in many cases is long since perished.

    It would seem to be contradictory to speak of “elite mercenaries who were poorly trained”. IAW the Geneva Convention a citizen isn’t a mercenary if he’s supporting his government’s policy although in the Rumsfeldian view they should be considered unlawful combatants.

    The end of the current wars will present security concerns domestically but the biggest threat is from discharged soldiers with limited economic prospects rather than middle aged private contractors who have been sitting in Baghdad for a decade collecting $ 500-1000 per day and whose life goal is to get a villa in Thailand along with a 20 something bride.
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    FM reply: Thanks for catching that error (now corrected)! I meant to say that many mercs are NOT elite, being poorly paid and trained guards from Third World nations).

    “t the biggest threat is from discharged soldiers with limited economic prospects rather than middle aged private contractors”

    That’s a great point and a powerful question, about which we can only guess. The middle-aged merc recruited from spec ops has more skills and education — hence can usually make the transition to middle class civilian life. His younger version might love the action and lack the background for a transition to well-paid civilian life. Especially if the economic stagnation continues in the US. Many mercs from spec ops earn wages putting them in the top 15%+ of individual wages in the US, not easy for young men with no civilian experience to equal.

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  9. Roberto Buffagni permalink
    16 August 2011 5:40 pm

    Thank you for your kind words. Of course you’re right, and the current situation is very different from Renaissance Italy’s (it’s worse).
    In my humble opinion, today the main effects of the expanding of mercenaries are:

    1) contributing to the disgregation of State and its culture, in which standing national armies are crucial
    2) demoralizing and corrupting armies, and mostly officer corps, where the market system cannot be introduced without staggeringly dangerous side effects (not olny when you believe in nothing, you keep believing in money, but when you believe mainly in money, you begin to believe in nothing: and an corps of specialists of war who believe in nothing is a great force and danger).
    3) giving the most powerful financial and economic oligarchies (which have loyalties, agendas and responsibilities very different from those of the national States) the occasion to enforce a kind of political AND military strategy. Polycy and politics they always did, but had to ask national States for the enforcement of its military side. Now, things are beginning to change.
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    FM reply: Those are interesting thoughts on the consequences of expanding the use of mercs!

    On the other hand, the prospect of budget cutbacks have forced the US military to reconsider their operations. They might decide to reverse the trend, preserving their own jobs and reducing use of mercs. Or they might go the other way, making greater use of mercs since they are cheaper (reducing the numbers wearing US uniforms). The latter path would continue the expansion of contractor-provided services which is perhaps the most important structural change in the past decade.

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  10. Dr.Victorio Oscar Soria Nicastro permalink
    16 August 2011 7:52 pm

    US highly trained but unemployed. Two sides of the same coin. One side is USA intself as well described above. The fear of social implosion follows all after war period when Legions return home. Unemployement, social unrest, 40 M homes to the banks, dollar decline, Congress without balls and brain, is an explosive mix. The other side is Mexico where a so called war on drugs is underway.

    Questions
    1. Quid bono with caos in Mexico?
    2. What about Running gun to the Zetas?
    3. Governement without balls and brain a perfect match. If the there is a war [40.000 KIA if you aloud me] plus 10.000 MIA [migrants and civilians], war is lost before started.

    The focus may be
    1. Who can/want to control de business?
    2. The rest is a laberynth of mirrors and smoke to deceive.
    3. While a market was created by the Germans of the School of Frankfurt + Transhumanism now Human+ and drugs + Billonarires like Soros business will survive.

    Unfortunatly the mix is algo explosive in both sides, US and Mexico. Both suffering the burden of an era of caos created by plutocrats who always make profit, and common citizens pays the bill.
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    FM reply: The direct effect of demobilzation after the Long War is unlikely to be severe for a nation of 312 million people. There are only 1.4 million active duty, and most have never seen combat. From memory, only half of the USMC have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. A small fraction of the Army, and tiny fractions of the USN and USAF.

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  11. 16 August 2011 9:12 pm

    Check out Steven Pressfield’s new novel The Profession. He explores one possible scenario…
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    FM reply: More a silly fantasy than a scenario. But fun!

    For a more realistic analysis see “Think Again: War” by Joshua S. Goldstein, Foreign Policy, Sept/Oct 2011 — “World peace could be closer than you think.” The hidden subtext is less conventional war, more 4GW. Previously known as Low Intensity Conflict (LIC), due its usually (not always) lower body count.

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  12. Dr.Victorio Oscar Soria Nicastro permalink
    16 August 2011 10:22 pm

    Thanks to clarify the size of US troops returning home. Strong as US military are is a small size. Maybe is question of quality, skills, and market as you suggest from the beginning. I found 13 approaches to the so called War on Drugs. In MO is more relevant to focus on root problem than comsequence problems. I found two that are seldom or never take into account and both are the roots of global problem of drugs. One is the Contra-Culture of the 60 [sex,drugs,rock and revolution,Norman Brown dixit] and Wilhelm Reich [Freud+Marx] Marcuse,Horckheimer, Fromm,. Two is the so called Transhumanism [hedonism as virtue] who currently is chick at the upper levels of futurists. If the root cause of the culture of drugs is not addressed, we end playing pinata [blinfolded] as the Mexican popular tradition goes.
    Mirrors, smoke bombs, deception, a big business and the creation of the new lumpen proletariat, the modern slaves of XXI Century.
    If the annual business in the Amercan market is let say 150B, and 40B are laundry in Mexico, where are the others 110B? Plain and simple maths.
    Back to the top. If former US Special Troops are hired in Mexico —this is not new, killing contracts, according to press runs from 10 to 250 according the target– why not SAS, or ME allyes, or Russians, Chechens, Kosovars, and all you can add to the list.
    This escalation of private armies [4GW] comes from ouside and is bad news for US.
    No one desire Mexico become the equivalent of the Iran [1979] of former USSR, that propulse the invasion of Afganistan, I mean the Soviet invasion.
    Is bringin the long war at home and quid bono with that madness?

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  13. Anonymous permalink
    17 August 2011 12:00 am

    Yes, ending a war, is something, they don’t talk much about, but they rather should.

    The problem, what after the war, is is not limited to mercenaries, in fact the problem are not the mercenaries at all. The military-economic complex is far more grave a problem. Look at the Marshall Plan from this angle.

    What the personnel concerns (enlisted or else), consult Stalin, who in 1945 dispatched the whole victorious Red Army to the Gulag.

    Just in case your country reaches the next, the level 7 of this game, alive, reforming the secrete services. Consider, Mr Kadar of Hungary, who after being installed to power in 1957 in Hungary, smashed the communist secrete police(AVH), to install another, similar, *his* communist secrete police (JFK might have lived, if…). Good luck!

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  14. Grimgrin permalink
    17 August 2011 12:04 am

    I suspect that rather than being unable to find work the vast bulk of these individuals will be absorbed into the law enforcement/national security apparatus. Front line police work for the ones who have relatively few skills, local police force trainers and commanders for the NCO equivalents, and federal advisers and consultants for the officer levels.
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    FM reply: Yes, that is agreed upon by almost everybody and consistent with this post. The average pay for police officers is in the $30-60 thousand range, with starting salaries in the lower end of the range. Quite a pay cut for someone earning $100 thousand plus. Most will take the cut. This post discusses the few that will not.

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  15. Marvin permalink
    17 August 2011 8:57 am

    I think you are over playing this problem- In recent history Western mercenaries seem more an irritant too, rather than a cause of conflict. The locals are able to wage war pretty well by themselves. Besides, Blackwater types just cost too much for your average guerrilla/criminal band.

    Your two examples should pass you to another the model, that of contemporary sea faring! Boat crews are often recruited from third world countries, where sailors’ quality ranges from good enough, to excellent, who work for much less. Likewise with mercenaries, sources of personnel are likely to be demobbed third world partisans and national armies, rather than over paid Westerners. That’s certainly true in the case of the Zetas and Executive Outcomes. In summation, if there is/will be a mercenary problem it won’t be caused by private contractors, but by the large number of men in legitimate armies, in the first place.
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    FM reply: Thanks for this comment, which makes some good points.

    First, that skilled mercs can come from spec ops forces in second and third world nations. Often trained by us, willing to work for less than our vets.

    Second, about the potential for disruption caused by demobilized veterens (e.g., post-bellum America’s wild west). Guesing, I doubt that this will be a severe problem in the foreseeable future. Too few large conventional armies; too few vets with combat experience and poor employment prospects.

    Note that I did not say that mercs were (past or present) “a cause of conflict”. Ratther, their expertise can increase the intensity of existing conflicts (esp 4GWs, as in Mexico) — and increase the effectiveness of American’s non-state enemies.

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  16. Georgiaboy61 permalink
    18 August 2011 6:09 am

    Has Dr. Van Creveld addressed the rise of mercenaries in his works on the decline of the nation-state? It seems to me that the more-frequent use of them is a key marker not only of the declining legitimacy of the state, but the weakening of its moral and intellectual cohesion and thus a predictor of weakening health and the ability to carry out its duties. More frequent use of mercs suggests that the powers-that-be are having trouble recruiting enough personnel to staff conventional military units; alternatively, it suggests that the common person no longer feels the military or senior policymakers are honest brokers, willing or able to use him in battle wisely and only when absolutely necessary. Further, it suggests a lack of accountability among senior policymakers – mercs don’t ask questions as long as the check doesn’t bounce, unlike the typcial citizen soldier. Since the Peace of Westphalia, the nation-state has possessed a monopoly on the use of force; thus the trend towards private armies of mercs portends poorly for the future of the state in this regard. The difficulty conventional nation-state armies have defeating irregularies is well-known to FM readers… another reason unconventional forces like mercs are more in demand than ever. Unaccountable, off the books, black, and inexpensive compared to standing armies.

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  17. Georgiaboy61 permalink
    18 August 2011 6:17 am

    Weyrich and Lind warn, in their book “The Next Conservatism,” of the frightening possibility of fourth-generation warfare coming to America if present developments and trends continue. In 4GW, groups and individuals increasingly transfer their loyalties and willingness to die fighting (if necessary) to other primary identities – gangs, tribes, religious sects, criminal cartels, businesses, and so on – and away from the state. Highly trained spec ops personnel are taught to be force-multpliers, and are easily capable of training indigenous personnel, aka their fellow citizens and neighbors – the arts of war. It wouldn’t take many such men to cause a disproportionate amount of trouble. Let’s hope our elite ex-military spec ops personnel do not choose such a path. However, common sense dictates that when enough money talks, someone somewhere will listen, leading to a 21st century version of the old TV show, “This Gun for Hire” or worse.
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    FM reply: 4GW is coming to America, IMO. For posts about 4GW in theory and practice see the FM Reference Page Military and strategic theory.

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  18. M Shannon permalink
    18 August 2011 8:19 pm

    One poster mentioned the cost of “Black Water types”. Indeed the US gov has spent a lot on private security but in my opinion it has spent at least twice as much as it should. The vast majority of the people working for PSCs at $700-1000 per day would have been happy at $500 or even $375.

    There is a modest skill set required for PSCs that is almost identical to an infantry or cavalryman E-4- E-6. and lacks any of the exiting adventure sports skills associated with the more glamorous SOF.

    Early on in Iraq “Principals” were often convinced that only “special forces” veterans were up to guarding their compound or convoy. Most private companies have now twigged on to the facts of security and the rates they are willing to pay have dropped substantially. The US gov still over pays- I suspect many DOS RSOs etc. are looking forward to the day when they can retire and go over to a PSC- but no one should be under the impression that most of the same security folks wouldn’t work for far less. Whether that includes criminal or revolutionary enterprises is a separate question.

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  19. 20 August 2011 11:20 pm

    Taken from your Machiavelli quote:

    “Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy.”

    Our “private security”, and American military in general, enjoy overwhelming advantages in firepower (Lots of machine guns!), fire support, equipment, and numerical superiority (ISAF patrols generally consist of a squad, platoon, or larger. The Taliban generally operate in much smaller numbers for obvious reasons – larger concentrations of people are more easily destroyed by indirect fire or Air strikes. And they often don’t have that many fighters to begin with.).

    How brave would our friends at BlackWater be if they faced an equal opponent?

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  20. Fubar permalink
    28 August 2011 4:50 am

    “Two is the so called Transhumanism [hedonism as virtue] who currently is chick at the upper levels of futurists. ”

    Which futurists? Some of the futurists that were influenced by the Human Potential Movement (Esalen, etc.) and Transpersonal phsychology movement developed a sophisticated critique of postmodern culture’s “pathologies”. For instance, Ken Wilber referred to such pathologies as “boomeritis”. Wilber also is quoted as stating that the pathologies of postmodernism as a “tag team from hell: narcissisism and nihilism”. So, the counterculture in the USA, particularly the counterculture that is influenced by the “east-west” movement, is engaged in profound self-examination and critical analysis of postmodern narcississm.

    The challenge is basically to turn the intense narcissism of postmodern culture away from dissapation (what Buddhists call “clinging”) and hedonism toward spiritual “self realization”. There are healthy forms of self-focus, but many of the associated practices are rooted in traditional spirituality (suburban Yoga Shops are becoming part of american capitalism). What is actually going on could be considered part of the “reform of america” – attempting to adapt traditional spiritual practices to science and Jungian psychology.

    A lot of New Age junk will have to be examined and discarded. This is a natural progression of culture, as new forms of authenticity emerge.

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  21. Fubar permalink
    28 August 2011 5:47 am

    As some of you probably know, the US Army surrounded Washing D.C., and was on the verge of overthrowing congress and taking control of the government toward the end of the Nixon administration. This threat was required to prevent “progressives” from taking power in an election and imposing pro-democracy (“liberal”) reforms on the rising plutocractic classes (corporate predators, etc.) and their war economy.

    The seeds of doom have lain dormant for a long time, ready to sprout. There is nothing but false honor in serving a imperialist class of corporate overlords. Please connect the dots: the military industrial complex and national security apparatus engaged in wide destruction of foreign governments (and disruption of national liberation movements and democracies hostile to US plutocrats) during the Cold War. The “mercs”, or similar actors, that gained skill from being employed in those Cold War events returned to the USA.

    To be clear: the people that the US national security apparatus had hired to overthow foreign governments were allowed to live and return to the USA. People that had been hired by the USA establishment to overthrow democratic governments returned to the USA, seeking employment and social positions. (Their apologists during the Nixon era later rose to power as “Neocons”, Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc..)

    Then the Kennedies and MLK, Jr,. were killed. Along with various of Hoover’s “internal enemies” in various radical anti-establishment movements. The CIA started importing massive quantities of “illegal” drugs into the USA. (This contrinued during the “Contra” wars in central america in the 80s – Bill Moyers did several documentaries about this on PBS many years ago!) The FBI probably even infiltrated hippy spiritual movements that were critical of the establishment.

    The Plutocrats find uses for “mercs”. One of those uses has been to destroy populist pro-democracy movements, and to undermine the constitutional basis of the Republic. Walter Russel Mead stated a “forgotten rule of foreign policy” some years ago: the export of certain ultra-wealth produciing commodities in a global economy will always erode democratizing processes. Historically, those commodities included things like gold, spices/tobacco, silk, opium, guns and slaves. Now, we have Oil.

    The anti-democratic posture of oil corporations was revealed in the last decade in the unsealed documents of Wallace Stegner’s estate. Stegner (who later founded the Creative Writing Program at Stanford Univ.) was hired by ARAMCO in the 1950s to write a “puff” piece of PR work about how the oil industry was bringing “progress” to the midddle east, and quickly discovered that US military and national security assests were being used to suppress oil workers union rebellions in Saudi Arabia. ARAMCO refused to allow Stegner to publish the truth, and made him promise to seal his research documents for 50 years, or not get paid.

    Similarly, industrial monopolists hired “private armies” to suppress the worker’s rights movements (unions) in the USA in the early 1900s in the USA. see Anthony Lucas “Big Trouble” {Slate}

    “Timber magnates and mine owners deployed armed Pinkertons and strikebreakers as if they were baronial armies. When private force failed, employers persuaded local and state governments to suspend due process of law, arrest suspected troublemakers, initiate mass deportations, and crush strikes with National Guardsmen–using what Commons and his associates called all ‘the paraphernalia of dictatorship.'”

    The USA could easily become a fascist/totalitarian state within 5 years, and there will be plenty of jobs for “mercs” in a Fascist USA. There are many precedents, many more recent than most people are aware of. There is no end to the deep corruption in the US military and national security apparatus.

    People should not only be deeply worried about the return of “mercs”, they should do everything possible to stop such a return, or at least one that is uncontrolled.

    Like

    • 28 August 2011 9:24 pm

      “As some of you probably know, the US Army surrounded Washing D.C., and was on the verge of overthrowing congress and taking control of the government toward the end of the Nixon administration”

      No, I don’t know this. Do you have any citations to support this astonishing statement? Something like that — large-scale movement of troops — could not long be kept secret.

      Like

  22. Fubar permalink
    2 September 2011 1:53 pm

    Fubar: “As some of you probably know, the US Army surrounded Washing D.C., and was on the verge of overthrowing congress and taking control of the government toward the end of the Nixon administration”

    FM: “Do you have any citations to support this astonishing statement?”

    At this time I can’t state the precise source of the information.

    Like

    • 2 September 2011 2:06 pm

      As I expected: passing on some unfounded rumor. Please do not do so on this website. Or expect to be rudely treated for doing so. Life is short and wasting our time is treated here as a serious crime.

      Like

    • Fubar permalink
      4 September 2011 4:53 am

      The Vietnam/Nixon era is awash with vast amounts of rumor, conspiracy theory, disinformation, etc. Loyal officers had their home phones bugged during combat duty. Do you actually not remember the chaos ? Were you permanently damaged psychologically by the distain that hippies and liberals had for veterans?

      How do you expect to be considered a credible analyst if you can’t handle the demands of understanding the full spectrum of events at that time?

      Like

    • 10 September 2011 10:20 pm

      “The Vietnam/Nixon era is awash with vast amounts of rumor, conspiracy theory, disinformation”

      Every major event in history is awash with such flotsam and jetsam. Sometimes even with hidden truths amidst them. The burning of Rome. The Lincoln assassination. The Kennedy assassination. During the Clinton era, the suicide of Vice Foster and the crash of the USAF CT-43 carrying Commerce Secretary Ron Brown (Wikipedia). 9-11, esp the collapse of WTC-7. It’s a long long list. We can ponder these, but in most cases determining certainty lies beyond available proof.

      Like

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