The words ‘Mercenary’ and ‘Soldiers of Fortune’ have been badly tainted over the years, by some highly exaggerated and in some cases very badly publicised events, that have taken place since the end of the Second World War. During those conflicts many of the Soldiers who fought in them have been portrayed as young, out of work, gun for hire, thrill seeking adventures all looking for the big money, that came with the thrill of being able kill somebody as bragging material for their mates when, and hopefully they returned. Films have also played a big role in this type of Gung-ho portrayal, featuring stars like John Wayne as a swashbuckling hero who somehow managed to dodge every single bullet that was ever fired at him. Not to mention all the looting the ordinary soldiers usually managed to get up to in their spare time.
However, today it’s more a case of them being out of work because they have just completed a period of time in their country’s military service. They are highly trained ex service personnel who are finding it hard to adjust to civilian life, and in most cases not being able to hold down a normal what’s commonly known as a 9 to 5 day time job. As the period of their unemployment gets longer and their savings dries up, most normal ex service men will take an opportunity that’s offer them. In most case there is no hard training to go with the job, because most are already highly skilled in what’s required of them.
Some researchers into mercenary conflicts point out that the 1975/76 Angolan conflict as being the last one that went wrong, and in their eyes they claim that it was the last of the so called farcical wars. I would like to add and point out that for those who put their hand up and went it was not farcical, most of them were deadly serious in going. Many were told that they were going to train the locals, but most of the lucky ones who returned have since reported that in the end they knew that at some time they would have to pick up a gun and fight. These countries do not pay high wages for somebody to sit behind a desk.
I also believe that the 1981 Seychelles attempted takeover by Mike Hoare and a few of his friends can just as easily be described as farcical. When luck is against you, things just go from bad to worse. In just a few minutes mistakes can be made, and there is no way you can go back and change what has happened. Which is exactly what happened? Hind sights a wonderful tool to the general public, but is of no use to the guy making the decision on the spot at the time. I would not mind betting that in your life time you will see another so called farcical war.
Today major companies recruit some of the top military experience that is available to them, and at the moment it’s like a bottomless pit of untapped military experience all highly trained, pumped, primed and ready for action. This is not to say that there never were companies recruiting these guys because that would be untrue. Almost every conflict you wish to mention behind it was a company recruiting for it and behind them although denying it all the way were the Governments of the day. Today they are a little more open, they have to be, the internet has seen to that, and hence this web site, to tell the world what really went on.
I think it’s time these recruits were given a little more respect for the hard job they do. While being condemned by the young public out there because at times they have to kill somebody, it should also be remembered that in many cases they are actually called in to help the United Nations out. Like I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site, there is talk of the United Nations tapping into this very large pit of expertise, I think its high time they were also given a respective new name. Two guys on this site (Igor Potekhin & Pedro Marangoni) have both mentioned calling them ‘Warriors’. When we start adding information on Iraq and Afghanistan we might start calling them “Professional Warriors” because that’s exactly what they are.
Terry Aspinall 2010