Over the past decade the business of renting out private soldiers has grown from a specialised niche into a global trade, worth as much as $100 billion, according to the United Nations. When the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was torched in September, locals hired by Blue Mountain, a British firm, were on guard. When a few weeks later African Union forces kicked the Shabab, a terrorist group, out of Kismayo, Somalia, South African private soldiers gave them training and support. In Iraq and Afghanistan more than 20,000 private guards are employed by the American government.
The industry’s growth has been paid for by Western governments, keen to limit the political cost of military boots on the ground.
So what’s the next front?
More than 90% of the firm’s business to date has come from governments, but it thinks that in the future half of its customers could be corporate. Among the early adopters are energy firms and a hotel chain. By the end of the year Academi expects to have opened a new “several thousand acre” training site, probably in east Africa, to help meet the changing demand.
Add in for-profit prisons (we need more laws for people to break to create more prisoners!) and then war and police states are THE growth and employment area for the future! Until, as the article points out, China’s mercs take it all over for a lower price.