Over the years mercenaries have been recruited from an array of different sources, and some countries stand out above others as being a source of well trained experienced battle hardened soldiers.
Ireland and Scotland has always been known as a favorite recruiting ground. At one time during the 1700’s it’s estimated that one third of the male population of Scotland was serving overseas in foreign armies, fighting as mercenaries. German mercenaries were also well sort after. As were the Swiss who were also ranked as one of the best. Switzerland was so pour that almost all the male inhabitants fought for anybody who would pay for their services. They turned out to be some of the highest paid and top fighters in the business. Which is why the Pope grabbed a few (5000) to protect him, and they are now the only Swiss fighters that are still operational.
However, during the latter part of the 20th Century recruitment sources changed. After the end of the Second World War many German ex military personnel who could not settle down or were on wanted lists, moved on around the world fighting for anybody who would pay them, or simply give them a home. Many ended up in the French Foreign Legion and were well respected fighters.
Recruiters moved on trying to entice personnel away from highly trained military units like the British S.A.S., the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Marines. While in France and Spain their Foreign Legions also attracted a lot of attention. There were also several Eastern Block countries that became the target of recruiters. Although almost any ex-military unit from countries around the world was fair game. This is not to say that all mercenaries have a military background, as there have been some well known civilians who have led very successful fighting lives.
One who immediately springs to mind is the American writer Ernest Miller Hemingway who fought in the Spanish Civil War in 1939.
While in more modern times, Dave Tomkins (UK) who never served in the military, but has spent a life time fighting all over the world, and nearing his 70’s he’s still going strong.
During the early 2000’s the whole thing changed once again when countries like the USA and the UK started recruiting military personnel from other countries. Both were experiencing a short fall in their own military strength as they were heavily over committed in the battle zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Their recruitment drives took place in South American countries like Chile. The USA did not want to be associated with the word mercenary, therefore they re-named them Contractors.
America was one of the only countries in the world who actually passed legislation forbidding their citizens from fighting as mercenaries. A throw back to what happened to them during their fight for independence, when Great Britain used mercenaries to try and hang onto the country. (It’s a pity the C.I.A. was not informed of this piece of legislation).
Its been known for quite some time that returning American mercenaries denied the work they were involved in, because technically they could be charged and jailed. However, many have put pen to paper over the years and wrote about their exploits. While in this modern internet world of facebook and twitter, its become common place to read about what they have been involved in. In fact some even show live coverage of battles they are involved in using their mobile phones. But the American government has not charged anybody, using the existing legislation.
Both the USA the UK recruited contractors from Chile to guard their Embassy’s in wars zones.
However, it was not long before it was realised that there were cheaper markets out there to tap. The mighty dollar was being stretched too far and so recruitment once again moved on as the USA and the UK started recruiting from Black African Countries. Only this time it was not just the price they were trying to bring down, but instead of recruiting individual personnel, they were doing deals with countries to recruit whole regiments.
What the future holds nobody knows but if the past is anything to go by, we will certainly see major changes, but which way it will go nobody knows. Maybe one day we might see a U.N. Mercenary / Contractor fighting force.
In this section it is planned to try and display documentary training videos of some of these Elite units.