There are some good arguments against mercenaries incentive wise as being bad for peace. Ironically Military Industrial Complexes have even worse incentives - an amoral actor (out to maximize gain and indifferent to suffering not inflicting it gratuitously) might want to start a war but it should be one they would win and survive. A MIC with the same lack of morality would care only about generating demand and not victory as seen as early as Civil War profiteers who sold shoddy goods. On the other hand one advantage a MIC has is they are content with cold wars and stockpiling. The underlying problem war for profit is sadly ancient - before there was such a thing as a MIC many would fight openly for the sake of plunder and profit.
it is sort of silly though. if i understand correctly, hollow points are not terribly useful in a typical military engagement because they are easily stopped by body armor. modern military rounds like 5.56 are designed to have a small cross-sectional area at impact to penetrate armor.
Terminal ballistics is the mother of all holy wars. There are undending arguments over caliber, weight, soft point vs. hollow point vs. JHP, etc. Expanding bullets pretty useless against body armor, but so are pistols in general, because AFAIK the U.S. military doesn't issue armor-piercing pistol ammunition. Besides, any sort of infantry engagement will rely on 5.56 rifles, and the standard M855/M855A1 ammo, while not strictly defined as "armor piercing", does contain a steel penetrator and is quite effective against body armor at close-ish ranges.
Nevertheless, the U.S. military very much believes in the usefulness of hollow points in urban/CQ environments, and in fact the Army is now issuing hollow point bullets for the M17 and M18 service pistols. Presumably this ammo would not be used in a conflict against uniformed soldiers from a fellow Hague signatory state.
From the Hague Convention:
"The Contracting Parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core, or is pierced with incisions.
The present Declaration is only binding for the Contracting Powers in the case of a war between two or more of them.
It shall cease to be binding from the time when, in a war between the Contracting Parties, one of the belligerents is joined by a non-Contracting Power."
It describes a completely different type of round.
That was written primarily to apply to what is often called a "dum dum" bullet.
5.56 (with certain exceptions for things like m855 or armor piercing) is designed to fragment, not expand, and some variants that might appear to be a "hollow point" are actually designed in that way to enhance ballistic performance (OTM).
Interestingly, just last year the US Army approved the use of expanding bullets in M17 and M18 service pistols (both Sig P320). The issued ammo is Winchester XM1153, and yes, the Army (and everyone else) refers to this as a hollow point round.
EDIT: Also note that the Army disagrees with you; their justification for approving the use of hollow points is not that they're allowed under the Hague Convention, but that U.S. is not bound by it in many cases, such as warfare against irregular fighters, which describes pretty much all military conflicts for the last decade.
Also "dum dum"is a type of bullet (and I'm old enough to remember) that described a soft lead bullet that often did expand, not a hollow point. Hollow points were not in general use back then though they did exist.
But I seem to remember you saying that Hague Art. III doesn't cover HP ammo at all, which is incorrect. If you carried HP ammo in Afghanistan, it was allowed (strictly speaking) because Hague doesn't apply to conflict against irregular fighters. The U.S. military openly acknowledges that Hague prohibits HP ammo in regular warfare between signatories, and that information is everywhere you look if you follow any news or debates about military firearms. For example, the big news about the new M17 isn't the gun, but the fact that HP pistol ammo is now standard-issue, and how the Army addresses Hague Art. III in justifying the change .
1 - https://thenewsrep.com/73676/big-story-armys-modular-handgun...
Here's an actual legal analysis that explains the ridiculous footing the Hague convention "dumdum bullet" ban (because that's what it was) has: http://www.prep-blog.com/PDF/Hague-Hollow-Points-Berry.pdf
Our supervisors, the organization which employed our company, and their senior management were exceedingly clear that we were only authorized to aim or discharge a weapon in self defense.
People reading articles like this may get the idea that the vast army of "contractors" which were shuffling around Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2003-2011 time frame were somehow in offensive roles. Even Blackwater had a fairly restrictive ROE. The actual number of contractors who were in any way proactively engaged in combat operations, usually embedded with an organization with the ANA or ANP, I would estimate at about 1% of the contractor population total.
The remaining 99% were confined to a strictly defensive ROE. Nobody wanted to piss away their $170k a year, nearly tax free job because they'd mistaken something that wasn't a threat, for an actual threat.
VBIED, BBIED and other threats to vehicles while driving around are not going to be solved by shooting at people anyways.
In the entire multi year time period that I spent in operational areas, not a single person from the company that I worked for ever discharged a weapon, for any reason, outside of the shooting range.
As in they can witness a whole village being razed and wouldn’t be allowed to fire a single shot whilst a soldier would be compelled to engage and for the most part an order not to do so will likely be an illegal one.
I think of it like Heraclitus; “Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”
In the modern context, what equals out those numbers is largely training and muscle memory, so that once your adrenaline kicks in and your brain isn't fully functioning, you still know what needs to be done and can do it almost on autopilot. That can turn more of the 80 into the 9, so to speak, which is what a modern military needs.
However, I still wonder about the psychology of the mercenary asassin. Who are they, what stories do they tell themselves to justify their actions and does the 160k buy them peace of mind?
The salaries they're paying for US Citizen guards at the US Embassy in Kabul are around $90k at present. There's a sufficient number of people who really need the money that they can recruit and fill positions at that figure.
The PMCs don't call themselves mercenaries. Everyone else does, though. And it's accurate:
’from Latin mercēnārius (“hired for money")’
They are, though.
Tax free or after tax? Aren't Americans taxed worldwide?
I wonder what would happen if USA completely ends the operations that keep this people busy. How many of them are there? What are they supposed to do then? Office work?
I imagine being an assassin would conflict there a bit yeah
Have you seen Danny Trejo? Like.. he is not the prettiest guy, but I still LOVE him, love his acting and the movies he has been in.
Though tax enforcement is sometimes more vigorous than general criminal enforcement, so I guess the tax angle isn't completely irrelevant.
Regardless of how unscrupulous FB may or may not be.
In the case of US contractors (PAE, Fluor, Bechtel etc operating in Iraq, Afghanistan) there is also the tax factor, known to all overseas contractors. I am not precise on the dates and figures here, but something like the first $85k of gross income is completely untaxed, if they remain outside of the USA more than 325 days per year. And no state income taxes because they're not a resident of any state.
Something tells me that these guys have 100% of their payroll for whatever they were doing handled domestically within the UAE, and aren't declaring it to the IRS, however.
There's a lot of civilians going around the federal contracting job market who have a few years of experience working as a middle-management fobbit at LSA Anaconda in Iraq, or similar, who will get that job before another applicant who is an ex army ranger who did 5 rotations through Kapisa and Kunar provinces.
You should go read some more before you comment, because everything in your post from, prior-military career prospects to the way untaxed income works, is wrong.
For every one person that's currently been able to get a new contract under the LOGCAP contract doing stuff at KAF, in the year 2018, there's 19 unemployed people who used to be $160k contractors at KAF who are back in CONUS working ordinary civilian jobs at normal employee rates. Many of them in places where salaries are a lot lower than you would see in California, where you can buy a 3BD house for $130k, somewhere in middle america. Saying that people are working for $30k jobs at Waffle House may be a rhetorical flourish of exaggeration, but it's not very far off the mark if you look at the number of people who used to make $120-165k for Dyncorp who are now working for small town police or sheriffs departments in Kansas or Minnesota, as ordinary cops, for $40-50k.
The US presence in Iraq is presently about 3% to 5% of the size of what it used to be, both in active duty military personnel and number of US-citizen contractors. In Afghanistan, about 5-10% of what it was at its peak. This is why people who used to work for organizations like Dyncorp, ITT-Exelis, Blackwater, Triple Canopy, PAE and others are now going to work for even more shady contracting organizations based in Dubai (like Erik Prince's new company), and end up doing weird things in Yemen, ultimately under the command of the Saudi and UAE militaries.
For the military, where officers are making even less than a SDE 1 at Microsoft, this is insane amounts of money. Equivalent to 3 years of salary for NCO or enlisted.
I hate the "why doesn't X just become a software engineer" attitude.
Or to become a contractor.
No one's gonna pay you 160k and trust you to operate in Yemen just because you play militia on the weekends with some overweight guys from your state and you won a marksmanship match once out at your local shooting range.
In most other cities (even just going an hour north to SF) it's fine. "Software engineer" used to have a nerd stigma a generation ago, but that hasn't been the case in a decade or more, and nerds can do fine with women.
It was pretty miserable while I was in it, though. Silicon Valley is not really a place where the culture encourages "branching out a little", nor does it attract people who are interested in that. This is self-reinforcing: people who were born here and aren't interested in tech tend to move up to SF/Berkeley/Oakland while they're single, which have greater cultural diversity.
I was in some sense lucky: I met my wife when she had recently moved back from Peru and was re-establishing her career here. Another year or so and she probably would've moved to Berkeley.
That's condescending. Maybe I choose my interests for my enjoyment rather than other peoples'.
The elite special forces is a completely different ballgame. You need to be smarter and more fit than probably 90% of the population. Lots of these guys end up doing very well for themselves after leaving the military.
From personal experience I can say this is incorrect. The 'regular' special forces are the Green Berets (Top 5% of the Army). Elite special forces (CAG/Delta) 5% of the 5%
Not even 1% of the military can get into SOF, and that's less than 1% of general US population.
The people who get through BUD/S are generally Olympic class athletes who are selected for very specific mental and physical traits that are almost non-existent in the general population. There's absolutely nothing straightforward about getting into any SOF organization.
"Aside from moral objections, for-profit targeted assassinations add new dilemmas to modern warfare. Private mercenaries operate outside the US military’s chain of command, so if they make mistakes or commit war crimes, there is no clear system for holding them accountable. If the mercenaries had killed a civilian in the street, who would have even investigated?"
In this case the questions have easy answers. Some country recognized the individuals as having a rank in their military, and they were on a mission sanctioned by that country. Thus it is the same as if any other soldier from that country had committed such actions (accident, target, otherwise).
However that does highlight other questions.
What is a country?
What is the distinction between warriors:
* for a country in an official capacity?
* Is an external entity fulfilling an official contract acting in such a capacity? (Historically, yes)
* for a country in a resistance capacity?
* for an entity not recognized as a country in any possible capacities?
* fighting for their own sense of honor/justice?
While this system is by no means perfect, remember that the goal of the rule of law is to provide another means of settling disputes other than violence, or limiting or tempering violence when it must be used.
In fact this is extremely easy. Any person who murdered another person has done an immoral action, no matter how many layers of bureaucracy it's been dressed up in.
If I defend my family's lives by taking a life, does that mean it was immoral? Now extrapolate the argument to countries and state actors who are committed to killing innocents, and you can see just where all the gray area comes into play. The world isn't black and white.
this is tautological; murder is immoral by definition. killing is a superset of murder, and people disagree on what types of killing are immoral.
This would free up more than $1.5tn annually.
If we got rid of nation states at the same time, we might actually start to get something interesting done as a species.
'No military anywhere' seems to be a trivially unstable equilibrium. If nobody has any military and some group of people decide to create one and use force to dominate their neighbors, how exactly does anyone stop them?
Even if 99.99% of the world would prefer to not have any military and keep it that way, all it takes is a tiny minority of defectors from the norm.
> If we got rid of nation states at the same time
Right, so how do you resolve disagreements when people want different things? Should we have a world democracy, where China and India get about half the total vote? Would you be comfortable ceding some political control to people who may have sharply divergent values from you, including on this very topic?
Just because some people might do it doesn't mean you need to do it as well. If killing people is wrong, it's still wrong even when you're the one doing it.
> Would you be comfortable ceding some political control to people who may have sharply divergent values from you, including on this very topic?
This is literally how democracy already works.
Wrong. We are able to elect our leaders through our democratic process specifically because we are able to protect ourselves from autocratic regimes coming in and taking over. "Get rid of the military" is an idealistic view that does not take into account the reality that countries will always have different views, ideas, and opinions, and will fight for what they believe in. Before the military, there were militias.
What I meant by that is that most people have sharply divergent values from me. I'm used to ceding political control to people I fundamentally disagree with.
Have any instances of "ceding political control" involved violations of your bodily autonomy or food security? If not, then the "sharply divergent values" are relatively minor compared to historical conflicts among peoples.
Okay. But you still haven't solved the practical problem of people being able to violently coerce others.
Like, suppose there is an armed group Z of people who wants to control a patch of territory A and force those currently living there to perform agricultural labor and sexual favors for them. How do you prevent them from doing so?
How do you prevent the residents of territory A from saying "oh hey, how about we NOT" and forming a military to kill the approaching members of armed group Z?
This possibility is what smallnamespace meant by "trivially unstable equilibrium". It is unstable because when you do...whatever it is that you would do to set the world to this state... it wouldn't stay that way. This problem is known as the Security Dilemma.
No it isn't.
Suppose you have a country C with a legislature of 56 members. Suppose that legislature votes 35-21 to impose a tax on whiskey. So, there is a now through a democratic decision-making process, a law on the books that says that you have to pay a certain amount to the government when you sell whiskey. Now suppose that the residents of some smaller area P of the country say "no." and decide to pick guns and torture the local government official who is responsible for organizing and collecting the tax.
How does the will of the majority of the country (as expressed by the legislators' vote) actually result in the tax being paid?
(For those unfamiliar with the relevant American history, the answer was that the government sent in an army to enforce collection of the tax. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiskey_Rebellion)
In the absence of a nation-state framework I think things would rapidly devolve into some sort of feudal state framework perhaps with some interesting "armed-corporation" variations. Probably lots of violence and death until some new meta-stable configuration established itself. Civilization is fragile.
Western militaries have killed at least 4 million people in foreign countries in the last ~30 years. That's not my kind of "protection force".
The most sickening part is that we're paying for this, with our taxes. We're paying for people to go to foreign countries and kill people on our behalf. In the name of "protection".
You could make an argument for slimming it down, and that we've overextended our military capabilities past where they need to be, and into foreign soil where we shouldn't have been. I might even agree with aspects of that argument.
But to advocate for removal of the military leaves the US vulnerable to anyone who hasn't gotten rid of theirs (read: the rest of the world). We fought to get out from under British rule, so that we could establish a democracy and not live under a monarchy. If we abolish the military, there is literally nothing stopping someone from coming in and ending this experiment in democracy that has lasted as long as it has.
Much like Communism and Libertarianism being great in theory, but failing in reality.
They don't care if we, the people of the US, are outraged.
Their goal is to get the government of the US to back off.
And they are probably trying to do that by firing this shot across the bow of the government of the US. They likely have proof that ties the government of the US to many such actions across the MidEast region.
> The reason, a spokesperson for Al-Islah said in a phone interview, is that Mayo is alive — he had left the building 10 minutes before the attack and as of July was living in Saudi Arabia.
Is this another journalist in the last week, or is this a reference to Jamal Kashoggi (who was apparently killed two weeks ago today, the same day he disappeared into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, right?)
Perhaps I'm naïve, but I find it hard to believe that Buzfeed was sitting on a ~6500 word article, that probably took months to research, just in case the Saudi royal family got into a bit of a pickle.
That's part of the reason it's so critical for us to get out in front of this thing. The Saudis need to understand that they have gone too far this time. (We probably should have drawn the line when they kidnapped the prime minister of another nation. We should've never let them get away with that.)
Like what?... is the U.S. government the ultimate arbiter of actions of Americans overseas? Like is there no "local" rule of law? Clearly the jurisdiction is the country where assassinations and collateral damage occur. The country may have inadequate resources to investigate and prosecute, or may not have the "moral standing" to do so adequately, but quit the American myopia already. What a stupid question.
It's a crime for a US citizen to commit murder out of the country. The situations this comes up seem rare, but it happens. The mercenaries in this article got UAE military ranks explicitly to avoid this.
Another instance that sadly comes up more often is sexual offenses involving children. If you engage in child prostitution in a foreign country even where it's “legal”/illegal-but-not-enforced you can be prosecuted and jailed on your return to the US.
Collecting evidence for these extraterritorial offenses must be harder though. Would be interesting if these offenses can even be used for extradition.
18 U.S.C. §956 - “Conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country” - https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/956
In this case, it looks like the problem here is that the UAE wants to pay someone to kill "terrorists" for them, and the US is either ignoring, or somewhat supporting, the conflict in Yemen. There isn't an easy solution to that problem, but a good start IMO would be to get the US out of the ME political games, because no one is innocent in those.
Conversely, if you’re a foreign citizen but you murder a US citizen while abroad, that’s a crime in the US and you’d be jailed if they could ever get you here.
18 U.S.C. §1119 - “Foreign murder of United States nationals” - https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1119
Morally: it's different to kill because you volunteered to defend your country than because you need some money.
Please prove this.
Post WW2 it seems like most conflicts are being fought via guerrilla warfare. When you have a theatre of war that essentially a couple of rural provinces having some skilled American soldiers with a decade of experience of war seems highly valuable.
I think a lot.
The US forces do not run around knocking off people like this very often.
Now I don't have hyper specific insight, but I'll bet $1000 that not even Seals do 'explosive based drive-by assassinations' either. Because it's just not in the playbook.
Regular forces, Green Berets, Rangers etc. have nothing to do with this kind of stuff.
I have military experience, though not American, and I don't keep up with it.
Sounds like something a bunch of teenagers would do after reading Soldier of Fortune magazine, but these are grown, highly trained professional soldiers without any real oversight, or, it seems, moral compass.
If you have 30 minutes, read "The Crimes of SEAL Team 6" (1). It goes very much against the "good guys" media narrative that emerged after the OBL raid and Captain Phillips rescue. Many members have joined such elite units for noble reasons and served with honor, but there is also an undercurrent of savage brutality in some units that was not only tolerated, but even encouraged:
Some of those photographs, especially those taken of casualties from 2005 through 2008, show deceased enemy combatants with their skulls split open by a rifle or pistol round at the upper forehead, exposing their brain matter. The foreign fighters who suffered these V-shaped wounds were either killed in battle and later shot at close range or finished off with a security round while dying. Among members of SEAL Team 6, this practice of desecrating enemy casualties was called “canoeing.”
The canoeing photos are dramatic documentary evidence of the extreme and unnecessary violence that began to occur during multiple high-risk, exhausting, and traumatizing tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. “There is and was no military reason whatsoever to split someone’s skull open with a single round,” said a former SEAL Team 6 leader. “It’s sport.”
The former SEAL Team 6 leader said that he first noticed canoeing in 2004, and that it does occur accidentally on the battlefield, but rarely. He said canoeing became “big” in 2007. “I’d look through the post-op photos and see multiple canoes on one objective, several times a deployment,” the retired SEAL said. When SEAL Team 6 operators were occasionally confronted about the desecration, the SEAL leader said, they’d often joke that they were just “great shots.”
... During the first deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan, it was common practice to take fingers, scalp, or skin from slain enemy combatants for identification purposes. One former SEAL Team 6 leader told me that he feared the practice would lead to members of the unit using the DNA samples as an excuse to mutilate and desecrate the dead. By 2007, when Howard and Red Squadron showed up with their hatchets in Iraq, internal reports of operators using the weapons to hack dead and dying militants were provided to both the commanding officer of SEAL Team 6 at that time, Capt. Scott Moore, and his deputy, Capt. Tim Szymanski.
Howard, who declined to answer questions from The Intercept, rallied his SEALs and others before missions and deployments by telling them to “bloody the hatchet.” One SEAL I spoke with said that Howard’s words were meant to be inspirational, like those of a coach, and were not an order to use the hatchets to commit war crimes. Others were much more critical. Howard was often heard asking his operators whether they’d gotten “blood on your hatchet” when they returned from a deployment. Howard’s distribution of the hatchets worried several senior SEAL Team 6 members and some CIA paramilitary officers who worked with his squadron.
Killing civilians is entirely different, and that's extremely serious. Torturing innocent people is entirely different (though the SEALs were not directly involved in this to my knowledge).
Does the killing and attempted coverup described there rise to your category of "extremely serious?"
I was talking about the desecration of dead bodies of enemy combatants which people make a big deal about it.
I specifically mentioned that killing civilians (five were killed in the raid you mentioned) was entirely different.
Trying to destroy evidence that you murdered civilians by removing bullets from their bodies is not remotely the same as desecration of a body.
I'm sure some psychopaths manage to get into the special forces but I think the majority of these people are just trying to cope with the job they're doing. I read this as a lot of myth making on the part of the Seals to justify what could very easily be seen as straight up murder. By disassociating with reality and instead living a borrowed Native American persona, they're in a way protecting their mental health from the horrible acts they're committing and witnessing.
In the end though I think you're right. Hearing about the details of this stuff on a human level is horrifying but it's more humane to do targeted actions like this then wipe out whole city blocks with bombs or cut off food supplies.
I think it's more that in order to kill a person, a non-psychopathic person has to dehumanise them. Once you've dehumanised someone you can do anything to them because they're not people to you.
Insert "A Few Good Men" rant. It's a really hard problem, but it definitely needs a solution.
> For his part, Gilmore said he “would have preferred that this stay off the radar.” But he decided to speak to BuzzFeed News because “once this comes out there’s no way that I’m going to stay out of it, so I’d prefer to own it. And I’m not going to try to hide from what I did.”
> “It’s still,” he said, “some variety of the future of warfare.”
> Gilmore is out of the mercenary business. He has since found himself in another gray-zone line of work, albeit one that’s far less dangerous. He said he’s with a California company that plans to make cannabis oil for vaporizers.
"... the US doesn’t ban mercenaries. And with some exceptions, it is perfectly legal to serve in foreign militaries, whether one is motivated by idealism or money. With no legal consequences ..." False. Totally false. You jeopardize your American citizenship by serving in a foreign military ranked as an NCO or above. It is the exception to do this without huge problems and not the norm. For example serving in the IDF as part of your Return. I know because I personally had an offer to join an allied European military in order to take a teaching position at their infantry school. And the US government is putting people in jail that went to fight in Syria and Iraq with e.g. PKK.
"If the [reserve special forces] soldiers are not on active duty, he added, they are not obligated to report what they’re doing." 100% false. You need a waiver signed by your chain of command (up through battalion commander) to do anything remotely like this, which would absolutely need to be approved, taking security contractor work like this, overseas. You absolutely are obligated not just to report to your chain of command but to get a waiver. I know because I personally have friends that did contracting work while in the guard, and I know the hoops they had to jump through.
"During a live-fire training mission he led, back in his Navy days, he says he accidentally shot another SEAL." You couldn't "choose to leave the Navy" after that. This would be a huge fucking problem. Probably a discharge. Possibly jail time.
"the number of special operations forces has more than doubled since 9/11, from 33,000 to 70,000. That’s a vast pool of crack soldiers selected, trained, and combat-tested by the most elite units of the US military" Seventy thousand maybe if you include all of the REMF POGs doing paperwork, but nobody could reasonably call these people "crack soldiers" and compare them to an 18B.
It looks like Buzzfeed as been Buzzfed. Somebody sold them a story that is almost certainly equal parts unbelievable exaggeration and complete and total bullshit. And even if the footage is real -- and I do not believe it is 100% genuine -- they're deliberately zooming in on the area where the "mercenary" is firing his weapon in order to obscure what appear to be rounds landing at his feet. It looks like he's provoked into firing. Do not believe anything these people are telling you. It is almost certainly invented for clicks or some other reason.
What's more, per (b) there's an explicit presumption of what amounts to innocent until proven guilty: the onus is on whoever is claiming you've lost your citizenship to prove that you voluntarily intended to lose it, which is really quite hard to do unless you renounced in front of a US consular officer.
Or if you want an authoritative source:
"... provides for relinquishment through 'entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state' if either the person serves 'as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer' ... "
I suppose then you have no real-world experience with any of this (or anything like this) and so cannot otherwise provide anything to support your position. So let me help define some terms for you. A "commissioned or non-commissioned officer" -- what I called "an NCO or above" -- is essentially anyone higher ranking than a common soldier. If you serve in this position, the consular officer you report this to gets to make the call on whether or not this constitutes relinquishing citizenship and every consulate I talked to said it would mean relinquishing citizenship. This is the power of the consulate: They make decisions with recommendations from the government. Since you don't have any experience with this first-hand, and you don't understand the implication, that means you won't be afforded the opportunity to challenge or appeal the decision, since you won't have ready access to the American court system.
"...the Department of State adopted the administrative presumption found in 22 CFR 50.40 that a U.S. citizen/noncitizen national intends to retain U.S. nationality when he or she commits certain expatriating acts. That administrative presumption is in the process of being revised in 22 CFR Part 50, and includes when a U.S. citizen serves as a commissioned or noncommissioned officer of a foreign state, not engaged in hostilities against the United States (INA 349(a)(3), 8 U.S.C. 1481(a)(3))."
In other words, even if you serve as a officer or NCO of a foreign country, the Department of State will not consider this an expatriating act causing loss of citizenship, unless that country is at war with the US.
See also 7 FAM 1222 for more details of the "administrative presumption" in question:
"...in 1990 the Department adopted the administrative presumption found in 22 CFR 50.40 that a U.S. citizen/noncitizen national intends to retain U.S. nationality when he or she commits certain expatriating acts. That administrative presumption is in the process of being revised in 22 CFR Part 50, and includes when a U.S. citizen:
(3) Serves in the armed services of a foreign state as a commissioned or noncommissioned officer of a foreign state, not engaged in hostilities against the United States (INA 349(a)(3))"
Modern nation states can 100% regulate themselves on the use of irregular forces - there are situations for them, and many not.
They could be doing some enhanced security, some types of armed guards ... but not anything tactical, certainly not anything mission oriented or directed kinds of violence.
The only military forces in the US should be explicit parts of official US military.
It's Academi now (used to be Xe; hasn't been Blackwater for almost a decade.)
If we can't clearly articulate this, we can't really ban these companies.
When guards have to accompany a VIP into an unstable environment they frequently employee armored vehicles, armed helicopters and specialists like designated marksmen.
Most Western countries prohibit that form of organisation, too. Close protection is provided by State bodies ( the police and Royal Marines in the UK, for example ).
So the question arises, why does the USA permit armed private companies at all?
What about when the executives travel?
'Enhanced security guards' are fine.
Not mercenaries. And there need to be clear regulations.
I don't agree with that. Didn't these mercenary companies start out as just "enhanced security guards?" It seems like once you allow them to operate in any capacity, the rot spreads until you have assassination operations like the one in the article.
The only military career path for Americans should be within the ranks of the US military.
You realize that some urban areas of the US are more dangerous than Baghdad?
I have no problem with these guys as long as they are not doing military missions.
As far as I'm concerned, security of American assets and personnel in a conflict zone is a military mission.
Post-war Iraq is not the same as a war zone, so protection of the civil service, bureaucrats, diplomatic corps, etc. I think can be done by some kind of other trained force.
In fact, it might be better in some ways - soldiers are trained to have a very aggressive posture, a very 'lean in' kind of assertion. The 'killer instinct'. And it involves a lot of training in heavy weapons, assaults, recons, urban warfare etc. etc.. We don't need that for these missions. Because in any serious engagement they should be calling in the actual Army.
I said conflict zone not war zone, which I meant to encompass lower-intensity dangerous areas. But in any case, aren't American embassies traditionally defended by US Marines? I see no reason to change that.
> In fact, it might be better in some ways - soldiers are trained to have a very aggressive posture, a very 'lean in' kind of assertion. The 'killer instinct'. And it involves a lot of training in heavy weapons, assaults, recons, urban warfare etc. etc.. We don't need that for these missions. Because in any serious engagement they should be calling in the actual Army.
These "contractors" are former soldiers with exactly that same "aggressive...killer instinct" training, so you're not avoiding it by hiring mercenaries for guard duty.
(Me, I don’t even like armed cops).
> Are you also cool with the "warriors" "monetizing" their skills in the US "civilian market" ?
Depends on how they monetize them. If it's a justified self-defense (e.g. somebody tries to assassinate a prominent political figure, her security detail reacts and kills the assassin) - sure, if it's aggression (somebody hires ex-military to assassinate a prominent political figure) - not so much.
of course not. it's pretty straightforward. the point is that these were assassinations. We're comfortable with mercs doing things like "defend a convoy", "defend a target", "eliminate all hostiles in an area", etc.
that's a FAR cry from "make this man die. we won't say why, but here's the address of his mosque, and if you want to blow up his whole workplace, that's fine."
So, there are contract killers. This is not exactly news, for sure? Political murders exist pretty much since the time politics exists. Of course it's bad, but not sure what is new here.
Yes, there are contract killers. Are you saying you seriously don't know what's surprising about american citizens being freelance contract killers on behalf of a foreign government, and arguing that it's a good thing to do? And our own government being unsure whether there's anything illegal about it?
Seriously, how many times I need to write it's a bad thing to do so that somebody won't comment "so, you're saying it's a good thing to do, right?" It's like there's some weird font some people have installed which turns meaning of every word to its opposite.
No, we don't pay the CIA to fight UAEs wars. I mean, sometimes that happens, but it's not their central function.
> I mean seriously, what are my black-ops tax dollars funding these days?
Presumably, unless you are a UAE taxpayer, not this, except perhaps very indirectly.
These mercenaries are closer to Crassus hiring legions to fight a foreign war moreso than Caesar or Sulla marching on Rome. American firepower is predominantly state owned and loyal to its civilian leadership. These mercenaries are a liability because they make America look bad, not because they pose even an intermediate threat to American military power.
A good look into this further is Mike Duncan's The Storm before the Storm that leads into the Sulla era: https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Before-Beginning-Roman-Republic...
Duncan's The History of Rome podcast is very good overall and very much worth a listen.
There are always lessons in history, even accounting for the differences between an agrarian and digital society. Private militaries have proven to be rather fickle when it comes to rights v. might.
The fall of the former and rise of the latter seems to be the issue being raised, so either equally applies.
>McCain was considered a great friend of Saudi Arabia.
>He endorsed arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition waging war on Yemen.
Only when Trump became President did he regain his moral compass...
>In June 2017, McCain campaigned to kill Congress’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act”, aimed at banning Trump’s $510 million sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
Not officially, no, but if US intelligence isn't keeping track of them they're not doing their job properly, and I doubt they would be allowed to attack US-allied targets.
I'm pretty sure that an intelligence-gathering organization that cannot spell/remember the name of one of the most used Toyota models in the Middle East is not good at providing correct geo-coordinates or the target's meeting times.
Something tells me the intelligence people in the UAE were only relaying that information, not providing it.
Anyone who thinks no other intelligence agencies were involved in this is being willfully naive.