Contractors: today's mercenaries?
Private Military Companies (SMP), or Private Military Company (PMC) act for the benefit of companies, NGOs, or government, for security and/or defense services.
Formerly called Mercenary, contractors have become the "legal format" of the trade. They are the ones employed by the military companies, to fulfill contracts. On a political level, contractors generally act in conflicts alongside States, unlike mercenaries who may be on the side of States or of insurgents.
Previously not very popular, this very particular profession is tending to become legalized in France. Already very popular and accepted in Anglo-Saxon countries, however, on national territory contractors see their profession recognized for carrying out maritime protection missions, particularly against piracy.
At the end of this article, you will know how to become a contractor, on what kind of mission a private soldier can be hired, and why this job is so controversial.
How to Become a Private Soldier?
You have no military training but still want to become a contractor? The remuneration seems exceptional to you and motivates you to take the plunge. First, let's draw up an objective list of what you can expect if you make this choice.
The majority of men in this job are ex-military. For what ? The experience of the field, of the fights cannot be learned. Yes, there are courses on the market. Training whose price is often quite high, with no great guarantee of employment at the end.
You must be aware that this environment is relatively closed. I doubt that you will find advertisements on Indeed or Pôle Emploi, of companies proposing to send you to Iraq to carry out a contract. The advantage of former soldiers is their network: the proximity of their profession allows them to rub shoulders with contractors or heads of these companies.
We are not questioning training, but ask yourself this question: a company is faced with the choice between a man who has trained for 4 to 6 weeks, and an ex-soldier, having served for 5 years in an army regiment. Who do you think the private company will choose?
Admittedly, the contracts are lucrative, and the remuneration attractive. (some earn up to €10,000 per month). But you suspect well that at this price, your life does not hold much.
If despite these different aspects you wish to embark on this path, we indicate the various existing training courses in France and abroad:
These different organizations will teach you a wide range of skills, in a relatively short period: shooting, close protection, combat in urban areas, hand-to-hand combat, safety and engagement rules, etc.
The Contractor's Missions
Private military companies are responsible for different missions.
The contractors carrying out this type of mission are responsible for the construction of equipment, the supply of food and equipment and the maintenance of specific equipment. To be as competent as possible, private companies impose fairly strict selection criteria for future employees. They require the mastery of specific skills.
These missions are their core business. Despite everything, these missions concern only a small percentage of contractors. These missions require a high degree of skill, so are not accessible to everyone. The spectrum of their operations ranges from the surveillance of installations to the close protection of personalities.
Advice & Tactical Assistance
Private military companies can offer combat simulation services. But also act as a tactical consultant, offering his advice for the benefit of his employer. It also happens that the contractors assist as combatants. In this case, he is often assimilated as a mercenary.
A highly strategic and sensitive sector, it is the subject of a drastic selection for those who would like to claim this kind of operation. This kind of mission being prohibited in France, the CIA is best known for having outsourced this service to a private organization.
These 4 major missions that may concern contractors are the best known. This environment remains rather vague and very controversial, hence the lack of information. For many soldiers, they act like "cowboys", bounty hunters. According to public opinion, they are assimilated to vulgar mercenaries, carrying out missions without worrying about the moral commitment of this one. Since carrying out missions for money is their job, they would act on the side of 'good' as well as 'evil'.
Some private companies thus intervene in a thinly veiled way for lobbying, mining, diamond or oil extraction companies, in unstable countries such as Sierra Leone, Angola or the Democratic Republic of Congo (ex-Zaire). Their involvement in the game of certain multinationals contributes to the prolongation of conflicts.
However, they are recognized as having very good fighting qualities. Being trained to fulfill missions with a high degree of commitment, private companies do not skimp on the means to train their men.
Historically, mercenaries have always existed. Today, they tend to popularize with legal legal statuses. Their flexibility and their ability to react quickly are assets that work in their favour. These qualities make them more and more employed combatants to come to the aid of the government even in certain conflicts.
However, the other side of the coin is clear: the lack of control over private military companies makes their existence controversial. For many, contractors are the door open to abuse, since no one has control over the contracts they can make.