If you've got a 20 minutes or so today, use it to listen to this BBC documentary look at the world of modern mercenary armies. The story features mercenary armies operating in Africa and the more than 150 private security companies, and 50,000 mercenaries, operating in Iraq today.
BBC reports that private militaries have become a $20 billion to $30 billion industry. The report, aired under the headline "Dogs of Peace" says there have been hundreds of reports of abuse of Iraqis by private contractors, and discusses the overall lack of oversight or accountability over these forces. And while many of the contractors are former special forces soldiers, they don't all have military training.
One source interviewed for the story notes that at least one of these contractors was a bouncer in a London bar before becoming a hired soldier for a private company. The Wall Street Journal reported today that the Bush administration is under increased pressure to prosecute private military contractors accused of crimes in Iraq following the shooting death of an Iraqi security guard by a Blackwater USA contractor.
--Catherine MacRae Hockmuth