Indeed, the Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured soldiers of a regular army. Article 47 of the protocol provides the most widely accepted international definition of a mercenary, though not endorsed by some countries, including the United States.
All the criteria a — f must be met, according to the Geneva Convention, for a combatant to be described as a mercenary. That tribunal, using criteria in APGC77 or some equivalent domestic law, may decide that the soldier is a mercenary. At that juncture, the mercenary soldier becomes an unlawful combatant but still must be "treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial", being still covered by GC IV Art 5.
It was distinctly characteristic that on the very day of his arrival he began to plan to escape. He no sooner had taken it than the British warship Icarus anchored in the harbor, and her commanding officer, Captain Salmon, notified Walker that the British Government held a mortgage on the revenues of the port, and that to protect the interests of his Government he intended to take the town. If, after a regular trial, a captured soldier is found to be a mercenary, then he can expect treatment as a common criminal and may face execution. The train was made up of three flat cars, two armored cars, and between them the engine, with three cars coupled to the cow-catcher and two to the tender. The tapping rifle-fire spread along the hills, until it encircled the wreckage on three sides, and from some high ground on the opposite side of the line a third field-gun came into action. This print on demand book is printed on high quality acid-free paper. Probably it is a subject they avoid, and, in history, Salmon's version has never been given, which for him, perhaps, is an injustice.
If, after a regular trial, a captured soldier is found to be a mercenary, then he can expect treatment as a common criminal and may face execution. As mercenary soldiers may not qualify as PoWs, they cannot expect repatriation at war's end. The best known post-World War II example of this was on 28 June when, at the end of the Luanda Trial , an Angolan court sentenced three Britons and an American to death and nine other mercenaries to prison terms ranging from 16 to 30 years.
The four mercenaries sentenced to death were shot by a firing squad on 10 July The legal status of civilian contractors depends upon the nature of their work and their nationalities with respect to that of the combatants. Article 1.
The situation during the Iraq War and the continuing occupation of Iraq after the United Nations Security Council-sanctioned hand-over of power to the Iraqi government shows the difficulty of defining a mercenary soldier. While the United States governed Iraq, no U. With the hand-over of power to the Iraqi government, if one does not consider the coalition forces to be continuing parties to the conflict in Iraq, but that their soldiers are "sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces" APGC77 Art However, those who acknowledge the United States and other coalition forces as continuing parties to the conflict might insist that U.
The laws of some countries forbid their citizens to fight in foreign wars unless they are under the control of their own national armed forces. If a person is proven to have worked as a mercenary for any other country while retaining Austrian citizenship, his or her Austrian citizenship will be revoked.
In , France criminalized mercenary activities, as defined by the protocol to the Geneva convention for French citizens, permanent residents and legal entities Penal Code, L , L , L , L , L This law does not prevent French citizens from serving as volunteers in foreign forces. The law applies to military activities with a specifically mercenary motive or with a mercenary level of remuneration.
In , South Africa passed the Foreign Military Assistance Act that banned citizens and residents from any involvement in foreign wars, except in humanitarian operations, unless a government committee approved its deployment. In , the legislation was reviewed by the government because of South African citizens working as security guards in Iraq during the American occupation of Iraq and the consequences of the mercenary soldier sponsorship case against Mark Thatcher for the "possible funding and logistical assistance in relation to an alleged attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea " organized by Simon Mann.
In the United Kingdom, the Foreign Enlistment Act and the Foreign Enlistment Act makes it unlawful for British subjects to join the armed forces of any state warring with another state at peace with Britain. In the Greek War of Independence , British volunteers fought with the Greek rebels, which could have been unlawful; it was unclear whether or not the Greek rebels were a "state" per the Foreign Enlistment Act, but the law was clarified, saying that the rebels were a state.
In , a Privy Council report noted that there had been no prosecutions under the Foreign Enlistment Acts and considered them unenforceable. The Anti-Pinkerton Act of 5 U. Weinberger v. Equifax , F. There is a disagreement over whether or not this proscription is limited to the use of such forces as strikebreakers, because it is stated thus:. The purpose of the Act and the legislative history reveal that an organization was "similar" to the Pinkerton Detective Agency only if it offered for hire mercenary, quasi-military forces as strikebreakers and armed guards. It had the secondary effect of deterring any other organization from providing such services lest it be branded a "similar organization.
Per that interim rule, private security contractors are authorized to use deadly force when protecting their client's assets and persons, consistent with their contract's mission statement. One interpretation is that this authorizes contractors to engage in combat on behalf of the U. It is the combatant commander's responsibility to ensure that private security contract mission statements do not authorize performance of inherently governmental military functions, i.
Otherwise, civilians with U. Armed Forces lose their law of war protection from direct attack if and for such time as they directly participate in hostilities.
On 18 August , the U. Comptroller General rejected bid protest arguments that U. Army contracts violated the Anti-Pinkerton Act by requiring that contractors provide armed convoy escort vehicles and labor, weapons, and equipment for internal security operations at Victory Base Complex, Iraq. The Comptroller General reasoned the act was unviolated, because the contracts did not require contractors to provide quasi-military forces as strikebreakers. The order followed an unusual series of events set off when a U. Army veteran, Brian X.
Scott, filed a protest against the government practice of hiring what he calls mercenaries, according to sources familiar with the matter. Scott did not submit a bid; however, when the bidders who did submit a bid tried to protest at the GAO, their GAO bid protests were dismissed due to the fact that Scott had filed a case at the court and deprived the GAO of further jurisdiction in the matter. Scott's case had been dismissed at the GAO and was eventually dismissed at the court.
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The court order was in response to one of the legitimate contractors and Brian X. Scott had no role in obtaining that order. Army and security for the Army Corps of Engineers on reconstruction work in Iraq. The case, which is being heard by the U. Court of Federal Claims, puts on trial one of the most controversial and least understood aspects of the Iraq war: the outsourcing of military security to an estimated 20, armed contractors.
The better-known combat units in which foreign nationals serve in another country's armed forces are the Gurkha regiments of the British and Indian armies, and the French Foreign Legion. Foreign and commonwealth nationals recruited from countries of the Commonwealth of Nations in the British Army swear allegiance to the British monarch and are liable to operate in any unit. Gurkhas, however, operate in dedicated Gurkha units of the British Army specifically units that are administered by the Brigade of Gurkhas and the Indian Army. However, although they are nationals of Nepal, a country that is not part of the Commonwealth, they still swear allegiance either to the Crown or the Constitution of India and abide by the rules and regulations under which all British or Indian soldiers serve.
The private military company PMC is the contemporary strand of the mercenary trade, providing logistics , soldiers, military training, and other services. Thus, PMC contractors are civilians in governmental, international, and civil organizations authorized to accompany an army to the field; hence, the term civilian contractor. Private paramilitary forces are functionally mercenary armies, [ citation needed ] not security guards or advisors; however, national governments reserve the right to control the number, nature, and armaments of such private armies , arguing that, provided they are not pro-actively employed in front-line combat, they are not mercenaries.
That said, PMC "civilian contractors" have poor repute among professional government soldiers [ citation needed ] and officers—the U. Military Command [ who?
There's no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate force They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It happens all over the place. If PMC employees participate in pro-active combat, the press [ who?
In the s, the media [ who? In the PMC business was boosted when the U. In March , four Blackwater USA employees escorting food supplies and other equipment were attacked and killed in Fallujah , in a videotaped attack; the killings and subsequent dismemberments were a cause for the First Battle of Fallujah.
In , a U. DynCorp was among those contracted by the State Department, while others signed contracts with the Defense Department. Other companies from different countries, including Israel , have also signed contracts with the Colombian Defense Ministry to carry out security or military activities. In October , the United Nations released a two-year study that stated, that although hired as "security guards", private contractors were performing military duties. The report found that the use of contractors such as Blackwater was a "new form of mercenary activity" and illegal under International law.
Many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are not signatories to the United Nations Mercenary Convention banning the use of mercenaries. A spokesman for the U. Mission to U. An early recorded use of foreign auxiliaries dates back to Ancient Egypt , the thirteenth century BC, when Pharaoh Ramesses II used 11, mercenaries during his battles.
A long established foreign corps in the Egyptian forces were the Medjay —a generic term given to tribal scouts and light infantry recruited from Nubia serving from the late period of the Old Kingdom through that of the New Kingdom. Other warriors recruited from outside the borders of Egypt included Libyan, Syrian and Canaanite contingents under the New Kingdom and Sherdens from Sardinia who appear in their distinctive horned helmets on wall paintings as body guards for Ramesses II.
The Greek rulers of Ptolemaic Egypt , too, used Celtic mercenaries. In the 20th century, mercenaries in conflicts on the continent of Africa have in several cases brought about a swift end to bloody civil war by comprehensively defeating the rebel forces. Many of the adventurers in Africa who have been described as mercenaries were in fact ideologically motivated to support particular governments, and would not fight "for the highest bidder". The Congo Crisis — was a period of turmoil in the First Republic of the Congo that began with national independence from Belgium and ended with the seizing of power by Joseph Mobutu.
During the crisis, mercenaries were employed by various factions, and also at times helped the United Nations and other peace keepers. Hoare chronicled his exploits in his book the Road to Kalamata. In Tshombe then Prime Minister of Congo hired Major Hoare to lead a military unit called "5 Commando" made up of about men, most of whom were from South Africa.
The unit's mission was to fight a rebel group called Simbas , who already had captured almost two thirds of the country. The objective of Operation Dragon Rouge was to capture Stanleyville and save several hundred civilians mostly Europeans and missionaries who were hostages of the Simba rebels. Later, in and , some former Tshombe mercenaries and Katangese gendarmes staged the Mercenaries' Mutinies. In May , Carl Gustaf von Rosen formed a squadron of five light aircraft known as the Babies of Biafra , which attacked and destroyed Nigerian jet aircraft on the ground  and delivered food aid.
When captured, John Derek Barker's role as a leader of mercenaries in Northern Angola led the judges to send him to face the firing squad. Nine others were imprisoned. Three more were executed: American Daniel Gearhart was sentenced to death for advertising himself as a mercenary in an American newspaper; Andrew McKenzie and Costas Georgiou the self-styled "Colonel Callan" , who had both served in the British army, were sentenced to death for murder.
Both sides hired mercenaries in the Eritrean—Ethiopian War from to Russian mercenaries were believed to be flying in the air forces of both sides. American Robert C. GSG pulled out soon afterwards and was replaced by Executive Outcomes. Both were employed by the Sierra Leone government as military advisers and to train the government soldiers.
It has been alleged that the firms provided soldiers who took an active part in the fighting against the Revolutionary United Front RUF. In August there was a plot, which later became known as the "Wonga Coup",  to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea in Malabo. Currently [ when? They are accused of being an advanced guard for a coup to place Severo Moto in power. CNN reported on 25 August, that: .
Defendant Nick du Toit said he was introduced to Thatcher in South Africa last year by Simon Mann, the leader of 70 men arrested in Zimbabwe in March suspected of being a group of mercenaries heading to Equatorial Guinea. On 27 August he was found guilty in Zimbabwe of purchasing arms, allegedly for use in the plot he admitted trying to procure dangerous weapons, but said that they were to guard a diamond mine in DR Congo. The other passengers got 12 months in jail for breaking immigration laws while the two pilots got 16 months Muammar Gaddafi in Libya was alleged to have been using mercenary soldiers during the Libyan civil war , including Tuaregs from various nations in Africa.
The latter has denied the claims outright; the former is investigating them. Their attempts were thwarted by NATO air activity shortly before the death of Libya's ousted strongman. Amnesty International has claimed that such allegations against Gaddafi and the Libyan state turned out to either be false or lacking any evidence. They were also later recruited by the Marathas and the British. In 18th and early 19th centuries, the imperial Mughal power was crumbling and other powers, including the Sikh Misls and Maratha chiefs, were emerging.
At this time, a number of mercenaries, arriving from several countries found employment in India. Some of the mercenaries emerged to become independent rulers. Mercenaries were regularly used by the kingdoms of the Warring States period of China. Military advisers and generals trained through the works of Mozi and Sun Tzu would regularly offer their services to kings and dukes.
After the Qin conquest of the Warring States, the Qin and later Han Empires would also employ mercenaries — ranging from nomadic horse archers in the Northern steppes or soldiers from the Yue kingdoms of the South. The Saika mercenary group  of the Kii Province , Japan, played a significant role during the Siege of Ishiyama Hongan-ji that took place between August to August They were hired out by many as mercenaries to perform capture, infiltration and retrieval, and, most famously, assassinations.
Ninja possibly originated around the 14th century, but were not widely known or used till the 15th century and carried on being hired till the mid 18th century. In , the Dutch invaded the Ai Island with Japanese mercenaries. During the early stages of the Second Sino-Japanese War , a number of foreign pilots served in the Chinese Air Force, most famously in the 14th Squadron, a light bombardment unit often called the International Squadron, which was briefly active in February and March The United States could not become overtly involved in the conflict, due to Congressional restrictions, yet felt an obligation to assist the Chinese in stopping Japanese aggression.
Many Greek mercenaries fought for the Persian Empire during the early classic era. For example:. In the late Roman Empire , it became increasingly difficult for Emperors and generals to raise military units from the citizenry for various reasons: lack of manpower, lack of time available for training, lack of materials, and, inevitably, political considerations.
Therefore, beginning in the late 4th century, the empire often contracted whole bands of barbarians either within the legions or as autonomous foederati.
The barbarians were Romanized and surviving veterans were established in areas requiring population. The Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Empire is the best known formation made up of barbarian mercenaries see next section. Byzantine Emperors followed the Roman practice and contracted foreigners especially for their personal corps guard called the Varangian Guard. They were chosen among war-prone peoples, of whom the Varangians Norsemen were preferred. Their mission was to protect the Emperor and Empire and since they did not have links to the Greeks, they were expected to be ready to suppress rebellions.
He participated in eighteen battles and was promoted to akolythos , the commander of the Guard, before returning home in He was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in when his army was defeated by an English army commanded by King Harold Godwinson. In England at the time of the Norman Conquest , Flemings natives of Flanders formed a substantial mercenary element in the forces of William the Conqueror with many remaining in England as settlers under the Normans.
Contingents of mercenary Flemish soldiers were to form significant forces in England throughout the time of the Norman and early Plantagenet dynasties 11th and 12th centuries. A prominent example of these were the Flemings who fought during the English civil wars, known as the Anarchy or the Nineteen-Year Winter AD to , under the command of William of Ypres , who was King Stephen 's chief lieutenant from to and who was made Earl of Kent by Stephen. In Italy, the condottiero was a military chief offering his troops, the condottieri , to city-states.
They then went house to house, and killed 19 more civilians, ranging in age from 3 to Many were shot multiple times at close range, some still in their pajamas. One was in a wheelchair. The military investigated and acquitted the Marines, except one who got a slap on the wrist. Like the Blackwater guards, the Marines committed atrocities. But the outcomes were different. For the Marines, there was a single internal investigation, and the charges were quietly dropped.
It remains seared in the global imagination as a nadir of the Iraq War. Those contractors will spend most of their lives behind bars; the Marines of Haditha will not. There have been other abuses, from Abu Ghraib to civilian deaths from air strikes. So far, no American official has been sent to jail for 30 years.
The United States seems to hold armed contractors to a higher ethical standard than its own armed forces.
America turned to the private sector for personnel that its all-volunteer military could not muster. In Iraq half of the personnel in war zones were contracted, and in Afghanistan it was closer to 70 percent. America may fight future wars mainly with contractors. Nigeria hired hundreds of mercenaries to fight Boko Haram. Russia is allegedly using them in Ukraine. And oil companies and humanitarian organizations are turning to private military companies to protect their workers and property in dangerous places, and there is an argument that the United Nations should use this industry to augment thinning peacekeeping missions.
Contract warfare was the norm in the Middle Ages. They usually fought for the highest bidders: kings, city-states, rich families, even popes. The problems associated with private force were solved when states began monopolizing the market and put mercenaries out of business. They created large national armies accountable to governments and bonded by patriotism, rather than cash. This process took centuries, but is now unraveling.
Few would welcome a new unbridled market for force, yet it is already developing.