In the lawless reality of much of the post-Cold War world, private security is a booming business. And Canada, once noted for peacekeeping, is emerging as a source of talented guns for hire.
The industry has been booming for three years, but Foreign Affairs officials say the issue is not on their radar. At the same Canadian banks (like RBC) are laundering money on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao. Money flows via Brazil and Lebanon back to Canada.
Canadian Forces reports obtained by the Citizen warn that private firms are actively recruiting members of the elite Joint Task Force 2 special forces unit, but military officials have no idea how many commandos have left to work as hired guns.
The corporate soldiers — former Canadian Forces personnel and a few retired RCMP — have a different view of their work. Governments, standing armies and official organizations such as the UN are too bureaucratic to cope with the lawless reality of the post-Cold War world.
Private soldiers and companies are cheaper, they argue, and can react faster and more efficiently to the world’s security problems, including the political and economic sides of the story.
The men, who prefer to be called private security contractors, are employed overseas by mining companies and other large corporations to protect key installations or to advise on potential threats.
Aid agencies and governments use them to guard officials in dangerous places such as Iraq.
Smaller countries employ the men to train armies. In Saudi Arabia, retired Canadian Forces officers have instructed personnel in tank and light armored vehicle tactics.
The island of Curacao has many security entities to control the highly profitable drugs- and money flows. For starters all Dutch military organizations have set foot on Curacao. The Army, Marines, Coast Guard and Navy all have units represent to monitor the business.
Curacao is situated 30 miles off the coast of Venezuela, while the sister island of Aruba lies nearby Colombia, where the DEA rule and control the business encounters. Curacao offers all capabilities with its many offshore company managers entities.
Some soldiers of fortune go into combat with the units they train. Former Canadian Forces combat engineers have become a major presence in the private industry created to clear the millions of landmines left around the world in the aftermath of wars.
The work is secretive, so exact numbers are difficult to determine, but they are growing. Three Canadian security contractors have been killed in action in Iraq. There may be other Canadian deaths, but they have not been reported by families or individual firms.
Soldiers for hire are as old as war. But there was a resurgence in the 1990’s when individuals shook off the mercenary label and reinvented themselves as legitimate military companies.
Renting out from military firms has extended to regular Canadian missions. In the late 1990’s, Canadian troops in Haiti were transported in helicopters owned by International Charter Inc. of Oregon, a private company started by a former U.S. special forces officer.
The company’s reputation in the security industry was bolstered in 1996 after it defended the U.S. Embassy when rebels overran the Liberian capital of Monrovia. The men held out
against rebel attacks until a U.S. special forces team could arrive.
The companies, from Executive Outcomes in South Africa to Sandline International in England, produced slick brochures and promotional videos emphasizing their ability to offer private warfare.
Throughout the late-1990’s, the industry developed at a steady pace with the big USA companies, DynCorp, BlackWater and MPRI, with strong Pentagon connections, cornering much of the global market.
Executive Outcomes fought wars in Africa. Meanwhile, the hiring of Sandline International to battle rebels in Papua-New Guinea sparked a mutiny in the country’s armed forces. Some in the UN campaigned without success against the organizations.
ABC Flash Point Mercenary News 2023.