“Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war.”
– William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
If you want a job done right, then send in highly motivated, highly trained and highly paid professionals.
This is true in just about every field of endeavor, including business, technology, sports and countless others.
So, why wouldn’t this also be the case when it comes to war?
Historically, highly trained mercenary forces have been employed by ruling elites to get the job done efficiently, effectively and swiftly.
The job here, of course, is killing.
While humans being paid to kill other humans isn’t something we generally like to speak about, war is nonetheless a business. This business comes complete with its highly trained experts, and it’s highly motivated professionals.
These men, these professional soldiers, have chosen to do a job that’s both extremely hazardous, and that involves killing other men.
In the United States, our war professionals come from places such as the U.S. Navy’s Special Warfare Command, the U.S. Marine Corps training battalions, and the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, Airborne and Infantry training centers.
As a graduate of the Army’s war-fighting machine, I can attest to the skill and professionalism of our elite troops.
Yet despite having such a choice cadre of war fighters at its disposal, the U.S. government and the American people have virtually no appetite to send “boots on the ground” to fight what is one of the fiercest, most-dedicated enemies of the West that’s ever assembled.
That is, the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
Despite ISIL’s brutal commitment toward creating an Islamic caliphate, there is simply no desire to send American troops back to Iraq to stop this threat.
So, instead of sending American troops, why not pay war professionals to get the job done?
According to a recent article in Reason magazine by A. Barton Hinkle, war fighting veterans are calling for the privatizing the “dogs of war” to go fight ISIL.
This elite list includes:
- Eric Prince, the founder of private security firm Academi (formerly known as Blackwater) …
- Simon Mann, a British special-forces veteran who led a private army in Sierra Leone …
- Sean Rowe, a Florida Army vet who has created a group called Veterans Against Isis …
- And even Fox News host Bill O’Reilly,
But could a mercenary force actually defeat ISIL?
According to Hinkle, the answer is “yes.”
Granted, there are no guarantees in war. But Mann, the British SAS vet, tells the London Telegraph that “we could probably do something useful” with a force of 2,000 — and he ought to know.
In the 1990s he and his private company, Executive Outcomes, stopped rebel movements in Angola and Sierra Leone — “the latter,” as the Telegraph puts it, “against the drug-crazed, limb-chopping rebels of the Revolutionary United Front.”
A paper for the Brookings Institution reports that Mann, using a few hundred soldiers, “was able to defeat the RUF in a span of weeks. Its victory brought enough stability to allow Sierra Leone to hold its first election in over a decade. After its contract termination, however, the war was restarted. In 1999 the U.N. was sent in. Despite having a budget and personnel size nearly 20 times that of the private firm, the U.N. force took several years of operations, and a rescue by the British military, to come close to the same results.”
It should come as no surprise that when big government bureaucracy gets involved in any endeavor, efficiency, effectiveness and swift results become casualties.
The other question that comes to mind here is one of morality. Would it be somehow immoral to pay literal hired guns to kill another group of individuals?
According to Hinkle, the answer is “of course not.”
Are private security companies like Brinks immoral? Are bank security guards immoral? Private security officers have outnumbered police officers in the U.S. for decades. Like mercenaries, they threaten the use of sometimes deadly force, and they do it for money.
For that matter, many of those who enlist in government armies also do so for personal gain: job training, education, having a steady paycheck. Does that make them, too, “killers for hire”?
In fact, a private military force has the potential to be more ethically pure than traditional armies, especially those that rely on conscription (i.e., slavery) and confiscatory taxation for their support.
A privately financed, all-volunteer force has the virtue of consent: Nobody is forced to support it who doesn’t want to.
If you are frustrated and feel powerless in the face of news reports featuring ISIL fighters severing the heads, burning alive, raping, pillaging and otherwise torturing and killing its opponents, then count yourself among most Americans.
But what can be done if your government won’t act?
Perhaps it’s time to privatize the dogs of war — and watch ISIL “cry havoc!”
Sound Dollar Campaign contributor Jim Woods is a self-described “radical for capitalism.” He’s also a former U.S. Army commando.