Peacekeeping: Mercenaries Volunteer for Duty in Darfur


March31, 2006: Blackwater USA, one of the major providers of security personnel in Iraq, has offered to provide a brigade of peacekeepers for any operation, anywhere in the world. In particular, Blackwater said that it could provide a brigade in a place like Darfur for much less money than it would cost NATO to provide the same number of troops. Blackwater is proposing providing peacekeepers, not conventional combat troops. This proposal is based on Blackwaters two years experience in Iraq, where it provides thousands of foreign and Iraqi security personnel. Blackwater hires former military personnel, especially those who have been in Special Operations units, for its security jobs. The company says it has discussed the proposal with American and NATO officials. No one in an official position has made any public comments about this concept. It's not a new idea, but the shady historical reputation of mercenaries has worked against any government openly accepting the concept. This in spite of the success of mercenaries in Iraq, and elsewhere.

The Blackwater proposal also addresses a peacekeeper shortage the UN is having. There's also the problem of getting well trained and equipped peacekeeping troops. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are major contributors of good troops, but there are not enough of them. The UN has been approached about using mercenaries in the past, and has refused to consider it. But with no country rushing to send first class troops to Darfur, and the African Union forces already there being overwhelmed by the scope of the problem, Blackwater may have a customer.

There are two other considerations. First, mercenary peacekeepers are already a fact of life in many areas. NGOs, including UN agencies, commonly hire foreign, and local, muscle to provide security. All Blackwater is proposing is expanding this practice, and delivering a more efficient, unified, force. It is known that the NGO practice of hiring local gunmen often leads to further complications, not increased security. A second factor is that, down the road, some of the nations that have been renting lots of their troops, to the UN, on a regular basis, may see the Blackwater Brigade as unwanted competition. Because the UN pays more per peacekeeper than these troops earn back in South Asian or any African countries, these jobs are quite lucrative for the troops and the countries they come from. So, while the Blackwater Brigade may be a good idea, it will only come to pass if it can overcome the political and emotional baggage mercenary peacekeepers drag in with them.



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close