Modern-Day Mercenary Corporations

Jonny Nexus

In the Armageddon 2089 setting, corporate mercenaries are very prominent. I could never quite get into this, but I recently read two very interesting articles about modern-day (real-life) mercenary corporations which has kind of changed my mind.

I thought the articles might be of interest to people wanting to look at how mercenary corporations would work in reality. But it's also a very political subject right now, so rather than post the details here, I've written them up on my blog - and I figured I'd post a reference to that here for anyone who might be interested.

You can find the relevent post at:
First off mostly what these articles talk about are not mercenaries per se, but rather civilian corporations that provide services to the DOD. The reason they are in Iraq is two-fold. The first is that Iraq is nominally not a war zone and so the DOD has exported the civilian support staff it has become accustomed to at home overseas into what are nominally safe zones. The second reason these PMFs are in Iraq is that the Army Engineers have been shrinking with the privitization of the services they used to provide and so the army has no choice but to bring along at least some of such support staff, regardless of the danger (which is much lower then the articles make it seem).

Secondly the "private security forces" that are referenced in one of the articles are a fact of life here in America, and have been for over a decade. Corporations like Blackwater do not even begin to represent the tip of the iceberg. Such corporations are the spiritual succesors to PIs and as such provide a multitude of services primarily to private individuals, but occaisionally to corporations; and operate well below the public radar (as a side note the PI business is still alive and well, contrary to popular belief). While the better ones are often trained to a level above what is standard even for special forces in many areas (Private security agencies have a different set of complications and objectives), they are neither trained nor equipped to be used as a cohesive military force on the front lines. Then again the Green Berets are not intended for use on the front line either...

In any case the point is that these private security forces are still civilians that for the most part just happen to be operating in an unofficial war zone; not mercenary companies along the lines presented in A2089 or other SciFi sources. I would be suprised if there are not genuine mercenaries operating in Iraq, but the articles do not really talk about them and indeed seem to suggest that most of the good ones are steering clear of Iraq.
If your looking for real corparate mercs working for profit only. The now defunct Executive Outcomes is one of them. Formerly based in Pretoria, South Africa and staffed by former South African Defense Force personnel their most famous or infamous operations were in the mid 90's in Angola and Sierra Leon. They are an example of brush fire war specialized mercenary unit.

MPRI (Military Professional Resource Incorporated) is based in Alexandria Virginia. Created by former Senior US military officers in 1987. They specialize in Cadre and training duty. Most famous operations is the training of the Croat army during the Yugoslav civil war. The effectiveness of this training is best seen during the Croat counter attack Operation Storm against the Serb army. Which was so succeful it effectively led to Milosevic going to the peace table
I worked with Black Water and other US contactors with the US in Iraq for about a year. Tranined like SF, many are ex-SF, Seals and Rangers. With a few MP's, Cops and such thrown in. Most of there tranining comes from the military, which many of the memebers where in for 10-20 years. Blackwater dose give training, and I am thinking of trying to get a job with them after IU get out of the army, as I have area knowlege of most of central Iraq from being there for a while.

Yes they train, and do some training of there own folks, mostly team building I think, as many of there folks are highly tranined before they get there, it tends to be more mission focused training.
I think that in the near future we're probably looking at private 'security' companies like Blackwater and services corps like Haliburton working for the US govt taking on more and more mercenary-type roles; they already seem to be involved in everything short of actual war-fighting operations. I don't see the 'official' mercenary outfits like Sandline being used much by the US though, they are not part of the US military-industrial complex and aren't really the same kind of people. Security companies are mostly American--run provide support to the US military & CIA; traditional mercenary companies are British or South-African run and mostly provide support to third world governments plus the occasional third world rebel group. I don't think the US govt likes or trusts these traditional merc outfits very much, they may be identified with the US hostility to 'offoicial mercenaries' that dates back to the US War of Independence/Revolution. European & African govts are often not nearly so hostile.

So IMO a Cyberpunk 'merc' corporation like Militech is much more likely to be an outgrowth of existing services & security corps like Haliburton & Blackwater, and will never be oficially referred to as a 'mercenary' firm by the US govt & pro-govt media. They'll always be called 'security' firms (like Cyberpunk's Arasaka - I don't think we'll be seeing any big Japanese 'security' corps though, that was just late-'80s paranoia).
My ex-'security specialist' friend hates being called a mercenary by me BTW, she always says "We're trained to save lives, not take them!" :twisted:
Just to clarify. when I say 'war fighting operations' I mean offensive operatiomns, like attacking an enemy-held position. The security companies in Iraq often engage in large-scale fighting but it's of a defensive nature (like the quote in Jonny's article) - they protect bases, convoys etc from hostile forces, they don't (officially & AFAIK) go out and attack enemy forces on their home turf. Of course the distinction can be muddied, I heard a tale of 2 El Salvadorean private-security personnel who had to fight through enemy lines after their base was overrun (this might even be the incident quoted in Jonny's article, it was a few months ago), reportedly killing several rebels in close melee with knives(!) on the way back to safety.