Well, looks like the United Arab Emirates has taken the logical step of taking all that oil wealth and buying in some battle hardened troops. So, let’s throw out those fostering civil-military relations manuals and rewind the clock seven hundred years to when mercenaries were the done thing. But seriously now, this is a slightly worrying concept. Oil rich states have always been able to buy in hired hands, but doing it on this scale is, well, slightly worrying for nuestros amigos in South America. It is also slightly different from the cash/troops transfer that goes on in peacekeeping missions. Why? Because the big spikes in that BBC graph represent laudable paydirt for the countries concerned. Let’s not kid ourselves here, everyone is using mercenaries these days, even if we’re paying Blackwater/Xe/Academi/whatevertheyarethismonth to rip us off and assure us they’re not.* But anyways, as market rates go, a 1000% bump is big. If states like the UAE start doing this en masse, it is very bad news for countries like Colombia. It is one thing for oil rich states to pay Britain and America billions for shiny tanks to parade around, it is another for a country like Colombia to have its military top-sliced. My knee-jerk reaction is that I can’t see how Colombia can keep ahold of its troops, I can’t see how states like Colombia could field viable military organisations if states like the UAE start perpetually top-slicing them for talent and I can’t, for the life of me, see anything stopping this from happening again.
*Yes, I know 99% of the cash in private security contracting is in logistics support and non-combat roles, but everyone is going on about the 1% these days, so I thought I’d join in.“Smart move, now buy my book”