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Old 12-29-2018, 12:20 AM   #8
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Default Mercenary Nationalities and Background

Peculiarities of history mean that the relatively small field of professional mercenaries has in the past received disproportionate influxes of certain ethnicities and backgrounds.

Often, local politics or being on the losing end of a civil war results in many men with military training and experience no longer being welcome or at least not expecting economic success at home. Historical examples are Greeks and Macedonians in the Ancient World, English veterans of the 100 Years War, the Irish 'Wild Geese', German landsknechten from wartorn areas in the Thirty Years War, etc. Or mercenary work abroad may be entrenched in the local culture as a good career for likely lads, e.g. historical Switzerland or modern Nepal.

Allegedly, the ranks of the French Foreign Legion and the small worldwide fraternity of freelance mercenaries swelled with ethnic Germans after WWII. The post-WWII era saw a lot of German-speaking men with extensive military experience economic hardship at home and, perhaps, feel unwelcome in what amounted to an occupied country.

Aside from that, the new technological innovations of WWII meant that any veteran from an air force, motorized unit or certain naval vessels were sought-after by TL6 militaries to teach new skills, especially if they could obtain equipment as well. Research reveals numerous anecdotal examples of mechanics, pilots, landing craft operators and the like from many different countries that fought in WWII striking out as adventurers and mercenaries in the late 40s and early 50s. No doubt the independence of India and Pakistan meant the demobilization of many British soldiers who had planned on a military career and no doubt a healthy number of them found work as the pros from Dover in exotic locations, teaching the fledgling armies of newly independent former colonial states modern military methods and British discipline.

In the 60s, the iconic mercenary is French-speaking, likely a pied-noir from lost Algeria or a Frenchman of European origin whose colonial homeland no longer belonged to France. To a lesser extent, some were Belgians in the same predictament, and, of course, other Europeans who'd lost their homelands through colonial independence. This always included some Englishmen, but actual subjects of the British Crown have a long history of claiming to be working as freelance mercenaries while they are actually still carrying out the policies of Whitehall or other mandarins within the labyrinthine Old Boy network of the tottering British Empire.

In the 70s, English and Boer-speaking white men from British colonies in Africa became the mental image of 'mercenary' to many. The social unfest in South Africa, enthusiastic anti-Communism of many veterans there, the eventual end of apartheit and the rise of Zimbabwe from former Rhodesia combined to create a pool of white Africans who saw themselves as stateless and possessed valuable military skills. Of course, black Africans also fouvht as mercenaries, and in much greater numbers, but they were rarely perceived as belonging to the same international fraternity of professional soldiers for hire. This was, of course unfair, discriminatory and blatantly racist, but professional mercenaries reflected the social mores of the societies that shaped them.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, the iconic mercenary, Legionnaire or private military contractor has largely become East European. In actual fact, by the numbers, most private security or private military personnel are probably from Latin America, for the simple reason that there are a lot of unemployed men in Central and South America who have served a stretch in the military and for whom even minimal pay for security work for Triple Canopy, Xe, Academi, etc., represented a windfall. Better equipped, more highly paid contractors may be Eastern European, Ghurkhas, or, increasingly, US citizens who've learned their trade in the military.

What I'm wondering about are two things. First, how accurate are my impressions?

Second, what nationalities would one find among mercenaries in the late 1980s and early 1990s, i.e. in that in-between period, where the WWII veterans have long since died and retired and so, really, have most of the post-colonial lot, apart from South Africans and former Rhodesians, but PMCs/PSCs haven't yet become as heavily corporate as they are now and might not yet have discovered the economically priced, militarily-trained, best-value-for-money human resources in Eastern Europe and Latin America?

In other words, at the height of Kessler's mercenary recruitment between 1982 to 1996, who was he recruiting?

His contacts would have been old and retired mercenaries he employed in the 60s and 70s, former French Foreign Legionnaires, police, Coast Guards and (small) militaries of a number of Caribbean islands, as well as perhaps some valuable contacts into the US and French military and intelligence communities.
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