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'New Wars': the Sierra Leone Case
Unformatted Document Text:  Lesson 2: Use of Private Militias or Mercenaries Basic Information What are private militias? Private militias or mercenaries are defined by three traits: (1) They are foreign to a conflict(2) They are motivated by financial incentives(3) They may participate directly in combat Private militias are by no means a new phenomenon. Throughout the course of human history armies have been comprised of contractually hired forces to supplement or stand in for standing armies. In the 11 th century, for example, the Chinese, Greek and Roman Empires all employed mercenary armies. In the 14 th century, Italian city states did the same. The British hired soldiers, or mercenaries, to fight against America during the Revolutionary War as well as in India (Shearer 1998). As nationalism took hold over the course of the 19 th century, conscripted armies replaced private forces along with the international norm that only nation-states fought wars (Shearer 1998, 68). However, in the 1990s, as the world continued to experience deepening globalization and increased economic interdependence, there was once again a global demand for this kind of force. A number of corporations came into existence to fill this demand. Corporations such as Executive Outcomes (South Africa), Sandline International (Great Britain), Blackwater and Military Professional Resources Incorporated (United States) all provide a range of services including training and strategic advice, weapons procurement services, protection services, operating communications systems, coordinating logistical support (food, housing, transportation, aircraft and vehicle maintenance), and direct combat services (Singer 1998). The focus of this lesson is on the hiring of such companies specifically for their combat services. What is the incentive to use mercenaries? There are several reasons that a government or organization would choose to outsource military action to a private company. The first reason has to do with cost. As with any other financial decision, governments seek the most cost-effective way to accomplish their goals. As specialists in the field and without multiple layers of bureaucracy, corporations are frequently able to offer competitive prices for their services. Secondly, many countries do not have technologically advanced armed forces, a large, well-trained standing army, or the institutional capacity to run one. Private forces are typically comprised of military professionals who presumably are more efficient, productive, and qualified. In such cases, a private military force will work much more efficiently and will likely be more effective than a state army. For militarily powerful 16

Authors: Parker, Sara.
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Lesson 2: Use of Private Militias or Mercenaries
Basic Information
What are private militias?
Private militias or mercenaries are defined by three traits:
(1) They are foreign to a conflict
(2) They are motivated by financial incentives
(3) They may participate directly in combat
Private militias are by no means a new phenomenon. Throughout the course of human
history armies have been comprised of contractually hired forces to supplement or stand
in for standing armies. In the 11
th
century, for example, the Chinese, Greek and Roman
Empires all employed mercenary armies. In the 14
th
century, Italian city states did the
same. The British hired soldiers, or mercenaries, to fight against America during the
Revolutionary War as well as in India (Shearer 1998).
As nationalism took hold over the course of the 19
th
century, conscripted armies
replaced private forces along with the international norm that only nation-states fought
wars (Shearer 1998, 68). However, in the 1990s, as the world continued to experience
deepening globalization and increased economic interdependence, there was once again a
global demand for this kind of force.
A number of corporations came into existence to fill this demand. Corporations
such as Executive Outcomes (South Africa), Sandline International (Great Britain),
Blackwater and Military Professional Resources Incorporated (United States) all provide
a range of services including training and strategic advice, weapons procurement
services, protection services, operating communications systems, coordinating logistical
support (food, housing, transportation, aircraft and vehicle maintenance), and direct
combat services (Singer 1998). The focus of this lesson is on the hiring of such
companies specifically for their combat services.
What is the incentive to use mercenaries?
There are several reasons that a government or organization would choose to outsource
military action to a private company. The first reason has to do with cost. As with any
other financial decision, governments seek the most cost-effective way to accomplish
their goals. As specialists in the field and without multiple layers of bureaucracy,
corporations are frequently able to offer competitive prices for their services.
Secondly, many countries do not have technologically advanced armed forces, a
large, well-trained standing army, or the institutional capacity to run one. Private forces
are typically comprised of military professionals who presumably are more efficient,
productive, and qualified. In such cases, a private military force will work much more
efficiently and will likely be more effective than a state army. For militarily powerful
16


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