WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com)– “Amid the global military downsizing and increasing number of small conflicts that followed the end of the Cold War, governments have turned increasingly to private military companies–a recently coined euphemism for mercenaries–to intervene on their behalf around the globe. These companies provide services traditionally carried out by a national military force—such as military training, logistics and combat–but often under the radar of public oversight,” warns a new report by the Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

According to the report, the U.S. Defense Department has entered into over 3,000 contracts with 12 American private military companies since 1994. Though not all of the contracts were for military purposes, records obtained from the Pentagon were not specific enough to show the purpose of each contract. The report was released Oct. 28.

“A small group of individuals and companies with connections to governments, multinational corporations and, sometimes, criminal syndicates in the United States, Europe, Africa and the Middle East have profited from this business of war,” according to the Consortium of Investigative Journalists website.

The firms involved in the business of war have worked in 110 countries, “even engaging in armed combat,” the group said. It says at least 90 companies are providing services usually left to national military forces, but without public oversight. “Private military companies, or PMCs as the new world order’s mercenaries have come to be known, allow governments to pursue policies in tough corners of the world with the distance and comfort of plausible deniability,” said the report.


“Arms dealers have profited from a massive unregulated sell off of low price surplus armaments into the most fragile, conflict-ridden states and failed states. The weapons, mostly from state-owned Eastern European factories, have found their way to Angola, Sudan, Ethiopia, Colombia, Congo-Brazzaville, Sri Lanka, Burundi and Afghanistan—where conflicts have led to the deaths of up to 10 million people during the past decade,” according to the Consortium.

Its report includes profiles of arms dealers with an explanation of how natural resources and modern technology, like cell phones, have played roles in what the Consortium called the economics of war.

The report is based on classified intelligence files, government reports, court records and public documents, the Consortium said. The report was compiled over two years and will be published in 11 installments. The report shows how the private firms have benefited from policies leftover from the Cold War or foreign policy of the United States and the former Soviet Union. “In most instances, the big powers withdrew their direct sponsorship of rebel movements and regimes, which in turn had to become self-financing businesses to pay for the weapons, training and mercenaries they needed to overthrow governments or protect their tenuous hold on power.

When Jonas Savimbi, the leader of Angola’s rebel UNITA forces, refused to accept his defeat in elections in Angola 1992, he paid for his arms by seizing the diamond fields in the northeast of the country. He created an elaborate mining operation and buying system and imported a workforce from neighboring Zaire (now Congo). He also recruited a network of Belgian and South African diamond dealers, a structure that was replicated in Sierra Leone. Wars that had been shaped by U.S.-Soviet competition were overtaken by wars in which governments, guerrilla groups and criminal organizations–sometimes interchangeable–battled it out for access to wealth, potential wealth or trafficking routes.

Often the conflicts reached a point of equilibrium at which both sides could loot and profiteer. É Often, these companies work as proxies for national or corporate interests, whose involvement is buried under layers of secrecy. Entrepreneurs selling arms and companies drilling and mining in unstable regions have prolonged the conflicts,” the report found.