Sunday, March 29, 2015

Renting An Army

While states have a near monopoly on military force, it is a weakening share of the market.

The UAE wants a mercenary battalion for defense and special operations regionally (tip to Instapundit).

While not untrue, this is an odd recycling of old news from May 2011:

Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.

The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show.

I remembered this and would have sworn I blogged about it. But I can't find anything on it.

I did note that the UAE was looking to private contractors (mercenaries) for logistics.

This is an old trend that is coming back (and only 99 cents!).

Nigeria has done it to fight the surging Boko Haram threat that delayed elections.

Although they sure haven't highlighted their role in recent victories as they carry out an election.

It's a pre-Westphalian way of looking at legitimate sources of military power. As our jihadi enemies bypass the post-Westphalian notion that only states have legitimate military power, it shouldn't be a shock that we might fight fire with fire.

Western religious-based private military forces to fight jihadis aren't farfetched.

Another part of the pre-Westphalian world was the hiring another state's military forces. We could see that in Yemen if Egypt goes forward with hints that they will send in ground troops to oppose the Iranian-supported Shias in that reignited civil war.

Egypt cannot afford to pay for such an expedition. So if Egypt does this, Saudi Arabia is going to pay for it. Saudi Arabia will essentially be renting an army. Egypt will likely turn a profit on the job (well, other than casualties).

Lest you be too horrified, this is how the UN gets troops. The UN pays Western rates for troops and the "donating" country does not pass on all of that pay to the troops sent to some Third World Heck-hole to keep the peace (or keep it at a dull roar to avoid disturbing our supper while we watch the evening news).

I imagine that the logistics of an Egyptian expeditionary force, if it is sent, will be handled by a private company, too. Paid for by Saudi Arabia.

Heck, anybody with money will be able to wage a battle if not an entire war one day, I think.

Al Gore will finally be able to use his enormous wealth to get that punitive expedition he's been demanding!

The need for force does not decline just because the West's capacity to deploy it has been declining.

This is a business opportunity for both private groups and countries.

UPDATE: More on Nigeria, where close election results and the abandonment of the north-Moslem/south-Christian presidential trade deal could spark a civil war. With oil and poor quality local troops, this could be a mercenary destination if it goes belly up.

UPDATE: Just when you think bad news is hardwired, Nigerians go and do something good:

Nigerian election winner Muhammadu Buhari congratulated outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan for peacefully relinquishing power on Wednesday, a day after becoming the first politician in Nigeria's history to unseat a sitting leader at the ballot box.

In an unprecedented step, Jonathan phoned Buhari to concede defeat and urged his supporters to accept the result, a signal of deepening democracy in Africa's most populous nation that few had expected.

Once could be a fluke. Let's wait for another peaceful transition by a losing president to celebrate.

But the good news is that Nigeria won't be a big market for mercenaries. But there will be work to be found to fight Boko Haram, I imagine.