The use of mercenaries in legitimate warfare, while as old as warfare itself, is not a generally accepted practice. and certainly not a modern-day publicly condoned practice. The use of mercenaries is the circumvention of national and international law and convention, and in order to dispel pre-conceived images and notions, the term “mercenary” is now more commonly referred to as “contractor” or “consultant”, individuals and entities who nonetheless sell goods and services, including military tactics and expertise, to governments and insurgents, including the United States. The political, economic, legal, and moral implications of the use of contractors, consultants, and mercenaries will be examined here.
In what exists as one of the most well organized and comprehensive briefs on the subject of the complexities within system of contracted services, which include every conceivable item that might be needed to conduct government or business from pens and paper to cooks and mercenaries – the latter two sometimes crossing over. Laura A. Dickinson’s William and Mary Law Review article titled “Government for Hire: Privatizing Foreign Affairs and the Problem of Accountability under International Law (2005) untangles and demystifies the subject to reveal the pertinent points on the use private contractors or mercenaries. Included in Dickinson’s article are facts related to and specific to, but not limited to, the use of mercenaries in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Several significant concepts immediately emerge during Dickinson’s discussion on the subject. First, that contracted services, even those that include mercenary services, the contracting of which has occurred over a period of decades, are embedded in every facet of US military, disaster, and humanitarian relief service offered by the United States to foreign governments, and it is not a practice that is .going to go away (Dickinson, 2005). .