NEW REPORT: Guns for hire: the return of the ‘Dogs of War’

3 February 2016 - 7:00am
Press release

The rise in mercenaries fighting on the front line in conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East is a frightening return of the ‘Dogs of War’, according to a new report published today by War on Want.

While the Nigerian government has secured the services of South African mercenary troops from the apartheid era to fight the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in the north of the country, Colombian mercenaries are fighting alongside Saudi forces in Yemen.

The report, Mercenaries Unleashed: The brave new world of private military and security companies, reveals how this vast private industry, now worth hundreds of billions of dollars, is dominated by UK companies reaping enormous profits from exploiting war, instability and conflict around the world.

Private military and security companies (PMSCs) burst onto the scene 15 years ago, following the declaration of a ‘war on terror’ and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

John Hilary, Executive Director at War on Want, said:

“Private military contractors ran amok in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving a trail of human rights abuses in their wake. Now we are seeing the alarming rise of mercenaries fighting on the front line in conflict zones across the world: it is the return of the ‘Dogs of War’.

“For too long this murky world of guns for hire has been allowed to grow unchecked. In letting the industry regulate itself, the government has failed: only binding regulation will do. The time has come to ban these companies from operating in conflict zones and end the privatisation of war.”

It is not just on land that PMSCs are rife. The use of private armies in the maritime industry is booming, and British companies are again at the forefront, providing services to oil corporations seeking to secure assets along major sea lanes.

The report explains how PMSCs are increasingly exploiting a legal loophole when it comes to use of arms in international waters. Making use of floating armouries (ships harboured at sea and stacked with rifles, ammunition, night vision goggles and other military grade equipment) they are able to operate freely without fear of legal repercussions.

There are 20 such armouries currently on the Indian Ocean.  The UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has issued 50 licences for floating armouries operating in Indian Ocean & Gulf of Aden.   

NOTES TO EDITORS

The new War on Want report, Mercenaries Unleashed: The brave new world of private military and security companies, can be downloaded here

For further information or interviews, contact Ross Hemingway on +44 7983 550728

Latest news

Morning Star: IMF & World Bank admit to inequality crisis but continue to create it

23 October 2017 - 10:45am

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been forced to admit to the crisis of soaring inequality. But it is the policies they have spent 40 years forcing on the world's poor that led us here. This charm offensive is unlikely to signal a significant shift in thier approach but it may be an indication that cracks in the system run deeper than they appear. 

By Marienna Pope-Weidemann, War on Want 

Read more

Migrant and Precarious Workers are Winning Britain a Pay Rise!

17 October 2017 - 3:00pm

Migrant and precarious workers are winning Britain a pay rise. Migrant and precarious workers are leading the fights to get organised. They are tackling precarious work, outsourcing and privatisation, the real drivers of low pay and insecurity at work.  Despite facing stigmatisation by a media that too often blames them for low pay and insecurity at work, they are standing up for themselves and winning. Their struggles tell an important story about how Britain can win a pay rise: by standing with migrant workers and ending precarious contracts.

Read more

Join the conversation

Middle what? East of where? We use North Africa and West Asia – terms rooted in geography. Read more on our partner… https://t.co/Rv7kzYCrUY 3 hours 58 min ago
Our partner, #land defender Angelica Oritz from #Colombia on impacts of mega mining projects @MujeresWayuuhttps://t.co/3Y2yZDjG7H 6 hours 13 min ago
@MElmaazi @MariennaPW Yes sorry we replaced the original tweet with a working link you can now find on our feed! 10 hours 52 min ago