Overseas Civilian Contractors

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British are no strangers to guns for hire

Ben Macintyre The Times The Australian March 8, 2011

MUAMMAR Gaddafi lost his few remaining shreds of legitimacy in many eyes when he turned to mercenaries to shore up his regime. As many as 6000 “dogs of war”, hired guns recruited from Chad, Congo, Liberia and other parts of Africa brutalised by war may have been flown in by the Libyan dictator in the past few weeks.

Reports of mercenaries firing on the insurgents have become a leitmotif of the conflict, proof of Gaddafi’s ruthlessness, desperation and weakness. Machiavelli (Gaddafi’s mentor in so many ways) warned: “He who holds his state by means of mercenary troops can never be solidly or securely seated.”

What kind of government brings in hired guns to back up its own troops? Answer: the British government.

New figures reveal that contracts worth a record pound stg. 29 million ($46.4m) were awarded last year to British private security firms operating in Afghanistan, many of them fulfilling functions that would formerly have been performed by the military.

In the past 10 years, there has been an astonishing growth in private military and security companies (PMSCs), a boom created by the war in Iraq, sustained by the conflict in Afghanistan, and operating around the world. The annual revenue for British PMSCs leapt from pound stg. 320m in 2003 to more than pound stg. 1.8 billion in 2004. At the height of the Iraq war, there were estimated to be three private security employees for every British soldier.

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March 8, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Libya, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , | Leave a comment