The German army is powerful nowadays

Privatized warThe return of the mercenaries

"Mercenary is the second oldest trade in the world. Look at military history: a lot, maybe most of it, was privatized."

The mercenary expert no doubt has a secure job. The National Defense University in Washington D.C. is on the site of Fort McNair, a barracks on a peninsula on the Potomac River. A military academy. McFate's students are colonels and generals from the United States and friendly states.

"The fact that there have only been national armies in the last few centuries is the exception, not the rule, in military history."

King David already employed rental warriors - the Krether and Plether. Athenians and Spartians reinforced their armies with temporary workers. The Persian Cyrus recruited Greeks on a large scale around 400 BC to get the crown. Mercenaries fought in the Punic Wars, and Alexander resorted to such service providers on his march towards Asia. Towards the end, the Roman Empire also raised more and more "barbarians".

"In the European Middle Ages there were not only knights. It was customary to wage war with mercenary armies, even popes made use of them. Many unemployed men took up swords and went to conflict areas to find work. They often switched sides Machiavelli warned us against this. "

Europe's leading military service provider was Switzerland

Italy's rich city-states commissioned so-called "compagnie di ventura", led by the Condottieri - soldiers of fortune who soon became too powerful. German mercenaries were in demand, including Scots, Irish and Hungarians. Europe's leading military service provider, however, was Switzerland. Before banking was invented, mercenaries were their best business. The federal "Reisläufer" were considered a miracle weapon, worked for five centuries on many European battlefields - sometimes on both sides of the front. To this day, the Vatican is guarded by the Pontifical Swiss Guard. A relic.

"Today we are seeing the world of mercenaries return. That is not why the heavens will collapse. Private warfare may not be good and not moral, but historically it is the norm."

Mercenary expert McFate also teaches at Georgetown University, works for the Atlantic Council, writes non-fiction - and crime novels. In a previous life, McFate was a US Army paratrooper. After that he also served as a mercenary.

"I worked in West Africa for a while." In Liberia, for example, McFate worked for Dyncorp. 2016 sales: $ 1.8 billion. "We call ourselves 'private military service providers' - and we have even stranger embellishments ready."

Terms like "Special Risk Operator" or "High Risk Leader". Words that George Orwell would have enjoyed. What was his job McFate becomes monosyllabic. "Let me put it this way: the industry in which I worked did things that the CIA or Special Forces traditionally took over."

Did he have to kill? "I didn't comment ... How could you ask me that question?" He looks confused. "One task was to demobilize Liberia's old army and build a completely new one. We did it."

Officially there are no German mercenaries

Why should a state delegate sovereign tasks to corporations at all? A mercenary, McFate explains with a smile, is less constrained than an official. For example, he enjoyed full flexibility in Liberia:

"For example, on a typical day, I had breakfast with someone from the US embassy, ​​then had lunch with Liberia's defense secretary, and had a few drinks in the evening with a warlord and his muscle-bound child soldiers. A US colonel or diplomat couldn't do that . "

"Security" is booming worldwide. According to the Federal Association of the Security Industry, the industry in Germany had 263,358 employees in 2016. In property protection, personal protection, in local transport and retail, in cash transport, in front of barracks and nuclear power plants, to name just a few areas of application. Guard and security services currently make a good seven billion euros in sales in this country. But few of these activities seem really "military".

"Anyone who recruits a German for military service in a military or military-like institution for the benefit of a foreign power or leads their recruits or the military service to such an institution is punished with imprisonment from three months to five years."

Says the so-called mercenary section 109h of the criminal code. Officially, however, there are no German mercenaries.

"The Federal Government has no knowledge of its own about the activities of private German security and military companies in crisis or war zones",

It was said, quite succinctly, in response to a request from the left-wing parliamentary group in the Bundestag in November 2016. The government does not seem to want to know too much about the private activities of former or even serving members of the armed forces. Active people, it is said in the answer, "employment in private military and security companies would only be possible within the framework of an approved secondary activity."

However, to the knowledge of the Federal Government, no corresponding applications have been made.

On the other hand, there are repeated reports that Germans hire themselves out solo or as security companies on distant shores with weapons. In 2008 the "Libya Affair" caused a sensation. Prosecutors are investigating German police officers and soldiers who are said to have trained Gaddafi's secret police while on vacation.

"More than 100 former Bundeswehr soldiers are to be sent to Somalia, which is torn by the civil war ..."

In 2010, an Asgaard German Security Group made headlines. Your boss Thomas Kaltegärtner, a former Panzergrenadier, explained his services in beautiful Somalia on Deutschlandfunk:

"... with the main tasks of personal protection, property protection, convoy protection. This also includes training the police and the military in the country of deployment."

With allegedly more than 100 former members of the Bundeswehr, the company wanted to become active for a dubious warlord. A nightmare for the Bundeswehr, which at the same time was training fighters from the Somali interim government in Uganda. The police made a house search, the public prosecutor's office in Münster charged two responsible persons - for violating the arms and foreign trade law. On September 21 - seven years later - the Münster district court will now be heard. The company explains on request:

"There were investigations by pacifist prosecutors addicted to profile." The prosecutors had "dogged themselves into a harmless cause for doctrinal (ego) reasons. No Asgaard employee set foot on Somali soil."

The security company is still looking for staff

Asgaard's Facebook page now shows other sunny locations. "Arrival in Erbil, a pleasant 40 degrees in the afternoon. Drive in the B6-GMC Suburban to the compound on the arterial road towards Kirkuk."

The German government does not want to have anything to do with it: "In 2015, Asgaard Security tried to secure an order to protect the Bundeswehr contingent in Erbil / Kurdistan Region, Iraq, but did not receive one. Asgaard Security had not received any orders from the Bundeswehr before either . "

But the current "CEO" Petja Stoy, candidate of the AfD in Aachen, is still looking for staff. "If you also want to be part of our team, are at least 25 years old and have already been employed for four years in the Bundeswehr or a special police unit, register in our new application tool and take part in one of the EFVs!"

The aptitude test. Who does Asgaard work for? Where? The company replies by e-mail that they "do not want to comment on current orders and clients". But it is about "protection of persons and property abroad".

"Our operators do not have a combat mission, we work as a completely normal, private security company with public rights abroad. We value the fact that Asgaard is not a mercenary company."

In 2013 the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" reported that several dozen active soldiers in the Bundeswehr were "working for German and foreign companies in Afghanistan and other war zones or on merchant ships in the Horn of Africa".

As early as 2011, Hans-Joachim Otto (FDP), coordinator of the black and yellow federal government for the maritime industry, campaigned for armed private security teams on German ships - to protect against pirates. The German shipowners agreed. The then Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) praised this as a "good solution".

Inquiry to the Federal Office for Personnel Management of the Bundeswehr: How many former Bundeswehr members are employed in private security companies?

"142 former soldiers on a temporary basis out of a total of 8,593 respondents who returned to the civilian labor market in the 2015 calendar year stated that they were involved in an activity that can be assigned to the service and guard professions."

In 2016, the Bundeswehr's professional promoters approved 155 security training measures. What about jobs that could be considered more "mercenary"?

"There is no conscious promotion of one of these integration goals. If employers submit job offers to the BFD in the security industry that are clearly aimed at deployment in crisis areas, the BFD will not mediate."

A look at the Bundeswehr's online job exchange: "Offer 1300 / SN / 0025/13": AGEMA-Services GmbH in Kiel is looking for "promptly committed personalities both as operators and team leaders for mostly non-European assignments. Minimum age: 25 years. Well-founded security background (at least four years of service in the military). Passed weapons proficiency test. Impeccable reputation. "

"The range of tasks extends from securing objects in crisis areas to escorting merchant ships through the sea areas affected by piracy."

The French needed mercenaries for their colonial wars

After the World War and Nazi barbarism, it seemed unthinkable for a while that Germans could ever form an army again - or even become active as mercenaries. "For his part, the Chancellor emphatically emphasized that under no circumstances could Germans join foreign armies as mercenaries or mercenaries." Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer declared in the Bundestag at the end of 1949, quoting himself after an interview with a US newspaper. And yet this was already happening then.

Le Boudin, the anthem of the French Foreign Legion. In German: the blood sausage. A woolen blanket that is strapped to the legionnaire's knapsack in the form of a sausage. "Far from home in the desert sands / I stand as a legionnaire in France's pay ..."

After 1945, France was particularly diligent in recruiting Germans, sometimes directly from prisoner-of-war camps. Some were simply hungry, others wanted to blur their past in the Waffen SS.

"After all, the assumption should be justified that around 15,000 German nationals are currently serving in the Foreign Legion."

In 1959 the Bundestag deliberated on Germans in the Foreign Legion: "Also the problem of minors ..." About half of the German legionnaires, alleged reporter Kurt Birrenbach, CDU, were minors.

The French needed mercenaries for their colonial wars in Indochina, and later also in Algeria. "Then all the officers speak German as well: Franz, come here, cover on the left, right!"

"Instead of rendering these traders with German human flesh harmless, Adenauer's government has asked the authorities in West Germany to stop all five and make the work of the slave traders with young German people easier!"

In 1951 the GDR used the West German mercenaries in Vietnam to broadside the Adenauer government. "A few days ago, 133 former Foreign Legionnaires met ..."

The GDR offered all defectors free travel home to East Berlin, an amnesty and work.

"Everyone in the Congo knows me too. All you have to do is write:" Major Müller, Congo "- it always arrives."

When the colonies in Africa fell apart, mercenaries increasingly appeared there. One of them: Siegfried Müller.

"Within a very short period of time there were around 40 dead there ..."

For the media, Müller posed with an iron cross and a spear.

"I defended the west, western freedom, in the Congo."

In 1966, GDR television presented Major Müller, smoking, with a crazy grin and a heavier tongue:

"When we were in Johannesburg, they said we were going on a hunt, a Negro hunt or something ..."

"If we create an industry today that invests in conflict, it will appear in the most conflicting places in the world; it will start wars - and drag them on."

Mercenary companies, says military researcher McFate in Washington, always work for the highest bidder. And are ubiquitous today.

The globalization of mercenaries began in 1989

"They are popping up everywhere. Mercenaries are fighting for billionaires. We see them on both sides of the conflict in Ukraine, and jihadist mercenaries near Aleppo. Gulf states are recruiting mercenaries in Latin America to fight Houthis in Yemen. Nigeria hired mercenaries to recreate Boko Haram - very effective. Such mercenaries no longer compete with Kalashnikovs, but with attack helicopters. There are even mercenaries in cyberspace, so-called hack-back companies. "

The globalization of mercenaries began in 1989 with the company "Executive Outcomes", founded by elite fighters from the recently resigned apartheid regime. Today there are "global players" with a full range. The British G4S, for example, claims to be the "world's leading group for global security", with over 600,000 employees and a turnover of over twelve billion dollars. The top 10 also include the Swedish Securitas, the Canadian Gardaworld and US companies such as ADT, Allied Universal, and Booz Allen Hamilton. Your most famous ex-employee: Edward Snowden.

"In 15 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US has catapulted this industry from a multi-million to a multi-billion industry."

Companies like Dyncorp, CACI, Triple Canopy and Blackwater grew into giants. But their shooters, bodyguards, prison guards and interrogation specialists also produced plenty of scandals.

Blackwater, for example, provoked an outcry in 2007 - not for the first time - when company warriors opened fire on Nisour Square in Baghdad. 14 civilians died and 17 were injured. Blackwater founder Erik Prince insisted: We didn't do anything wrong. "I believe we acted appropriately at all times."

In 2015, four Blackwater employees were finally convicted in the United States. Prince had long since sold his shares, allegedly for $ 200 million. He moved on to Abu Dhabi and now works mainly in Africa for the Chinese.

"First of all there is an ethical problem: killing is linked to the idea of ​​profit. Is that how we fuel wars and conflicts? The answer is yes."

There are all sorts of agreements designed to curb the mercenary system. The Montreux Document of 2008, for example, gives states many tips on how to deal with private warriors. And yet it is considered completely toothless.

"I don't know what we can do to restore the state monopoly on the use of force." Sean McFate looks deeply troubled. "The US has done nothing to keep this industry under control. There is no law enforcement. We will see even more mercenaries in the future." That is lived deregulation. Fatal from his point of view.

"We have more laws about making toy cars than about outsourcing firepower. As for this very important issue, we're basically living in a lawless country."