Contracting for 9/11 – PMCs – Mercenaries In Brooks Brothers Suits – ‘Risk Consultants’
Global Economic Brinkmanship
PMC Secret Background Functionaries U.S.A., Virginia, McLean
by Paul Collin
March 13, 2003:
Further up the international food chain from rebel mercenaries of the 1960s and ’70s, lie what are called, Private Military Companies or PMCs. PMCs have actually been doing more than security team work for international banks, gold and diamond mining enterprises, and petrochemical firms though. And, contrary to popular belief, PMCs aren’t just being used to accomplish so-called humanitarian relief effort missions as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for the United Nations to help feed the poor and heal the sick that remain in war ravaged and economically distressed third world countries.
If the modern style of Private Military Companies (PMC) began from anywhere, it’s usually from within the womb of a tightly knit membership club that has been organizing and globally trading for close to 40-years now. From just outside the rear door of London’s famous department store, i.e. Harrods, is an exclusive and shadowy club, i.e. Special Forces Club, in Herbet Crescent, near where Britain’s mercenary and ‘risk consulting’ trade firms thrive. The club’s Victorian building dwelling has no name placard to identify it to passersby.
The club’s membership is limited to current and former members of the military and intelligence elite from Britain, the United States, and select allied countries sympathetic journalists, ex-SAS, British secret service, Central Intelligence Agency or U.S. Special Forces who call there can check in to the “Donovan Room,” named after “Wild Bill” Donovan, founder of the CIA’s predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services. Halls and walls of the Special Forces Club are lined with the history of spies, espionage, and sabotage with notable placards from the CIA’s Counter-Terrorist Center, former French resistance knickknacks, painting of Ronald Reagan’s CIA chief Bill Casey, and other special wartime memories.
Within a tight radius of about one (1) kilometer or so in London’s prestigious district of Kensington and Chelsea are major mercenary suppliers who trade under business names of “security firms” and “risk assessment firms” who go on to proclaim their “hundreds of employees” who are nothing more than their contracted “risk consultants.” Risk consultants are distanced from governments only by the fact that they use a private business name, which for plenty of governments makes them able to operate or sanction a full spectrum of ‘special operations’ – from those that can be admitted – while the firms go on to primarily maintain the appearance of purely private. The shadowy collusion of government, private, and intelligence interests in the Kensington and Chelsea area have been in place in Britain since the 1950s, and its history reveals the long relationship between private mercenaries and public institutions.
Some PMC ‘agents’ come equipped with a – little known about – trade craft. These new hybrid agents don’t wear battle fatigue uniforms and carry machine guns. The newer elite paramilitary agents don Brooks Brothers suits, degrees from the finest universities in the world, strong work backgrounds in either economics, banking, science or, whatever occupational field of expertise that the PMC may assess their special agents specialty in to satisfy a successful outcome mission for the PMC’s client-contractor. Private military company agents are intelligently creative and especially equipped with a sinister mission in mind, designed to fool bankers, accountants, lawyers, officials, regulators, legislators or anyone else because, they’ve been assigned to use their special talents on secretly planned campaigns for either promoting or disinforming projects that will eventually spell a mission well done by the hired PMC. PMC agents of this higher order may have been indirectly hired by a PMC firm for client-contractors such as banks, insurance firms, Fortune 500 organizations, industrial conglomerates, automobile manufacturers, defense firms, and others. ‘Risk management’ is an unobtrusive term, used by not only insurance, accounting and audit firms but, by PMCs too. While a myriad of politically correct vernaculars may be used by corporations, it may define an entirely new set of objectives. No longer does risk management necessarily mean a financial consultant who advises on executive security protection for board members or that a building alarm be simply installed. Some risk consultants could be a competitor’s worse business nightmare. Viewed by some as ‘business battlespace soldiers’ donning 3-piece suits. PMCs are at a premium compared to run-of-the-mill consultants and in many cases, agents may place their egos, friends, and necks on the line. It’s not totally unheard of for a PMC agent to land in jail as a result of being ensnared in a complex money-laundering operation where the left hand of the law, doesn’t know its right.
Worldwide, both PMC agents and foreign federal agents sometimes stumble on one another nation’s task force money-laundering sting operations. ‘Money-laundering parties’ such as these are infamous for law enforcement mistakes where hungry PMC and federal agents show up and wind up being stung by each other. The comedy of errors range from plain stupidity and embarrassing to absolutely ridiculous, but in most all cases are rarely (if ever) publicized. Financial and business venture risk-takings, while to be kept at bare minimums, might find some traditional business dynasties succumbing to plain corporate dirty tricks where they may perceive their own survivability at risk over some new competitor’s sales tactics. It’s not unusual for tycoons to request private attention in the handing of such matters by PMC risk management consultants.
These new hybrid PMC agents are basically ‘financial business triggermen’, ingeniously capable of either toppling an organization that might be threatening to shift regional financial stability. The PMC agent may be required to use their expertise in order to place the correct balance back in place. A mission might be as simple as passing information by word of mouth to a respectable associate. Someone who may already be in-place or in the right circle of influence so as to stimulate-by-favorable mention or dampen-by-cautioning some newly eyed investment opportunities. Upscale PMC firms may have great war plans operations for their client-contractors. Plans are well thought out, drafted like engineering blueprints, and carried out with surgical-like precision akin to that of a special forces military strike team. Some PMCs more so than others, continually conduct these types of clandestine business missions worldwide, manipulating small third world government economies and without any public knowledge or media publicity about them, their agents, client-contractors or, what their plans ever entailed.
PMC intelligence operatives may quietly approach older more well-established organizations or businesses who may then go on to drop smiles or head shakes that may make the difference to a plethora of many more who are quite simply, less knowledgeable on the facts. Firms may be ‘encouraged’ to spread disinformation to people like corporate lawyers, insurance underwriters or, a select few others to begin a treacherous mission. It is not uncommon for well-placed informants and agents of the PMCs to leak erroneous reports or rumor information through talk at local meeting places, like bars that are frequented by public officials or news reporters.
In Washington, D.C. a famous cafe eatery in 1986 by the name of “Talk Of The Town” was used for this purpose during business lunch periods when major U.S. network television newscasters like Sam Donaldson and others would visit there frequently with extreme regularity. Eventually a well-placed rumor within earshot of a government aide who wants to ingratiate themselves with their agency directors, will carry their version of bar room disinformation on what they supposedly heard, back to their governmental hierarchy. Well-established directors, businessmen, and advisers begin to start asking ridiculous questions based on these same rumors questions, which then have a habit of eventually becoming headlines by ambitious news publishers that then sell more papers and advertising. PMCs have been known to use a variety of pretexts that are specifically designed to disrupt, aggravate and complicate the lives of many new small independent banks, investment firms, international business companies, representatives, brokers, and their agents. To such an incredible extent is this done and so much so that anyone involved or having been associated in some way with the target of the PMC, like for example a depositor or investor who doesn’t want to seem foolish to their friends, decide to leave the new institution and take their money to the next firm, which in most cases of tiny nations, turns out to be the firm or informant used originally by the PMC to start the rumor. The end result is that there is a ‘run on the bank’ so-to-speak, and the firm winds up either going bankrupt, which is rarely the case or, fights to the death trying to locate suitors that might be interested in taking over the firm for the sake of remaining investors or depositors. But, in most all instances the later turns out to be futile because, the firm crashes quickly dwindling with many customers still on investment ledgers.
Newcomers who seemingly start out as quite successful businesses – entering a new world market with all their education and previous business experiences – somehow fall victim to what is more commonly said to be the age old ‘good ole boy syndrome’ whose wrath is rumored to have somehow been disturbed by the newcomer as the new kid on the block as its nemisistic competition. Many newcomers to tiny nations who wind up falling from grace like this, are convinced that someone had already and apparently determined that their business commodity was already allocated leaving no room for any competition in the region. The successful end result is that most businessmen are ‘run out of town on a rail’ or cast out for the wolves to feed on with ensuing court actions that more than likely will include indictments or arrests that will besiege and follow the newcomer like a plague the rest of their lives. The remaining investors and depositors wind up being left with nothing after the partnered auditors of the PMCs charge an arm and a leg to supposedly ‘recover assets’ from the failed business entity or institution.
In 2001, one such case out of twenty-four (24) banks – on the tiny island of Grenada – had world investors and depositors begging and pleading with the government and the court-appointed liquidator to ‘not liquidate the assets of their bank’ for pennies on the dollar but, to let a reorganization plan take hold instead, which was ignored.
What happened was that the press was having such a field-day selling rumors to the world, that the liquidator held a public auction in the town to the highest bidders, which went lose some of the valuable assets of the bank for all its depositors and investors, who still remained on the bank ledgers. The liquidator, acting on recommendations of PMC advisers and informants to the government, decided to discard any of the banks assets that were worth $10,000 dollars of less. And, then turned around and socked all the depositors and investors with an enormous service fee charged against what was left of the banks assets that were left. The end result left depositors and investors with absolutely nothing whatsoever. The name of that bank who like so many others (24+) crumbled in Grenada in just 2 short years was, the First International Bank of Grenada, Ltd..
Now, the favorite way to manipulate a tiny nation’s government economy is for a PMC to target a group of small businesses, usually banks or investment firms that are new upstarts in one small portion of a booming financial region, like the Caribbean. In the West Indies of the Caribbean, on the tiny island of Grenada, within just 2-years from 1999 to 2001, over 24 banks were closed. Most were rumored to have been fraudulent enterprises but, how many ‘were not’ who just fell as victims to the PMC hired guns of multinational firms in order to manipulate the Caribbean banking establishments and curb Western investments outside their homeland territories? Who can blame people from large Western economies for taking their hard earned money there, to offshore banks when trillions have been lost on domestic investment markets in just a few short years? Who was trying to protect whom here, by using PMC agents in the Caribbean, in the Pacific island territories, and other legitimate tax-free zones around the world? And, ‘who’ decided to legislate laws in the U.S. to make offshore capital gains taxable?
Well some fingers seem to be pointing directly to Kroll Associates, Inc. for the United States, with the vast majority of their employees being scooped up into U.S. federal government agency positions every year. PMCs ingeniously crush firms along with their customer bases and are quite adept in planning every stage of the battle, which is ‘won before it is ever fought’.
The headache for the newcomer usually turns out to be nothing a huge European industrial conglomerate that hired a PMC to fix many newcomers in the region, once and for all. All over the UK and especially in London, and scattered throughout the U.S. in places like New York and the Washington, D.C. metroplex area to include the States of Maryland and Virginia, are PMCs designed to do just that. PMCs maintain their roles in globally important centers for Western expansionism. Looked upon by some unfamiliar with the history of where PMCs began is their common misnomer of just being new stylish commercial security companies and organizations, such as Kroll Associates, Inc., Vinnell Corp., Saladin Security, Ltd., Control Risks Group, Defence Systems Ltd., and Sandline International, to name just a few.
Major General Stephen Carr-Smith of Defence Systems Limited explains: “Our clients include banks, multinationals, petrochemical companies, mining or mineral-extraction companies, embassies and so on. Very often the sort of `first-in’-type companies that are trying to get things going. We provide them with a ‘service’, which allows them to operate wherever they are.” Private security companies are ‘not’ a new phenomenon, and not to be confused with the mercenaries of the 1960s and 1970s. PMCs claim they are not just guns for hire, but “the advance guard for major business interests engaged in a latter-day scramble for the mineral wealth of Africa.”
Sierra Leone is an example that has wider application. Although forming a judicial state, Sierra Leone’s rulers appears to the West to have increasingly adopted warlord strategies and tactics as a means of political survival. Valentine Strasser, who came to power in 1992, invited foreign companies to take charge of Sierra Leone’s diamond mining. During the first half of the 1990s, several such companies attempted – with some success – to use their own security forces to police their concessions. In 1994, the firm Sierra Rutile (a subsidiary of U.S.-owned Nord Resources) explored the possibility of using the British firm, i.e. Gurkha Security Guards, to provide protection for its mining activities.
Such acts of “privatisation” satisfy a number of different agendas. For rulers, they secure hard currency while denying resources to opponents. Lending institutions, seem to be somewhat satisfied that resources are being efficiently exploited and that debts can be repaid. Policymakers, now regard private security companies or PMCs as having a comparative advantage over United Nations (UN) peacekeepers. To a former military officer on the London circuit, the advantage is clear: “The Third World War has already started. It’s these fragmented little scraps in everyone’s backyard – you can’t name a part of the world where there isn’t one. It’s gone full circle, nuclear deterrence is old hat. We’re back to bullets, bayonets, clearing trenches and repressing the local-tribesmen-type scenarios – which requires exactly our types of skills and our type of people.”
Part of the comparative advantage of private protection is that it is not governed by international laws and conventions. Astute security companies have realised that the scaling down of Western armies and the negative public opinion arising from combat deaths can help garner political support for an expanding role for themselves. Many private security companies are thus able to bridge two distinct agendas. They can support ruler survival strategies in the South while at the same time satisfying donor demands for privatization and efficiency. For some donors, the promise of political stability and the efficient exploitation of resources, together with reconstruction, represents the ultimate technical fix. That it also entrenches illiberalism and undermines international conventions is a detail that will probably be missed.
Globalisation is as much concerned with heterogeneity and division, including new processes of inclusion and exclusion, as it is with the leveling effects of market forces. These broad changes are affecting both the North and the South. They are part of the processes of “normal” everyday life. But while there are several similarities at a global level, the opportunities open to Northern and Southern rulers differ greatly. In the North, one response to globalization has been the concentration of the conventional world economy into several trans-regional productive systems, a measure aimed at sustaining comparative advantage. This has been accompanied by a growing deregulation of welfare services and labour markets.
In contrast, in the South, the conventional economy has contracted, to be increasingly complemented by a largely unrecorded mixture of parallel and gray activities. Linked to this development is the emergence of new political projects based on non-state and post-adjustment state actors, projects which are often associated with illiberalism in the form of religious fundamentalism, ethnic exclusiveness, political separatism, and so on.
Rather than regional integration, such developments underpin regional tensions and schism. Moreover, illiberalism of this nature easily translates into the collapse of the rule of law, authoritarianism, widespread human rights abuse and extensive social dislocation. Such occurrences are not a temporary aberration from the path of development. They are a reflection of embedded and long-term processes.
Mainstream aid policy is at a disadvantage in understanding and effectively responding to this world. Not only does its view of internal war remain state-centered; it is also reliant on an understanding of conflict as stemming from a combination of poverty, ignorance and weak institutions. Rather than being the result of international economic inequality and external interference, conventional wisdom holds that protracted instability in countries stems from the ready availability of firearms or population growth or unemployment or rapid urbanization or environmental degradation. Questions of justice and responsibility tend to play a subordinate role in this model. In other words, conflict is depoliticized. Policy springs directly and intuitively from this definition. It becomes a mixture of sustainable development, conflict resolution and civil society support measures; an ideological “one size fits all” approach equally at home in both Africa and the European East.
Within this framework, the role of aid is to restore the balance that aberrant and irrational conflict has upset. Its mission is to relaunch society towards the functional harmony (assumed to be the natural or normal state of society) of liberal democracy. However, with its tendency to underplay and entrench illiberalism, one wonders how effective – or even safe – this enterprise is.
A number of British firms are engaged in the contract military business. These include Saladin Security, Control Risks Group, Integrated Security Systems, and Defence Systems Ltd. (DSL). According to its promotional brochures the ‘core business’ for DSL, which was founded in 1981 by a team of ex-SAS (Special Air Services) officers, ‘is devising and implementing solutions to complex problems through the provision of highly-qualified specialists with extensive international experience in practical security’. DSL has joint-venture arrangements with British construction companies Tarmac-Wimpy and Hunting, as well as some more surprising contracts; the U.S. Embassy in former Zaire was guarded not by U.S. Marines but by DSL personnel.
It is two United States firms which have set the highest standards in military commercial ventures for the New World Order. Braddock, Dunn and McDonald Inc. (BDM), which has its headquarters in McLean, Virginia, is chaired by former us Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci. Chief Executive of the company is Philip Odeen, who worked for Henry Kissinger on the White House National Security Council in the early 1970s and ran the Pentagon’s Future Years Defense Plan study for the Bush administration. The company counts former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and former White House budget chief Richard Darman among its directors and consultants.
In 1995 BDM employed 8,000 people and maintained over 80 offices worldwide. Listing its key business areas as ‘systems and software integration; computer and technical services; enterprise management and operations’, BDM’s annual revenue in 1995 was $890-million. 37% of that revenue was earned in services to U.S. Defense contracts; 25% was earned in defense contracts overseas. One of four (4) BDM International subsidiares is the Vinnell Corporation, a construction company founded in 1931. Through experience gained in managing military assignments during World War II, Vinnell expanded into a booming construction business in Asia. Vinnell won hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts and employment for 5,000 personnel during the war in Vietnam. Among its activities there were covert military operations. A Pentagon source described Vinnell as “our own little mercenary army in Vietnam … we used them to do things the U.S. either didn’t have the ‘manpower with legal entitlement’ to do themselves.”
In February 1975 Vinnell secured a $77-million contract with King Fahd to train the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG), the military arm of the House of at-Saud. Today, Vinnell’s advertising depicts the firm as ‘providing a broad spectrum of professional and technical services to government clients in multiple areas of management and training. Client requirements have led Vinnell to a vast array of challenges, from Malaysia to Mexico to the Middle East, often to the very heart of international conflict areas’. Vinnell has subsidiary operations in Egypt, Oman, and Turkey, but the key area of responsibility remains with SANG. The contract for its 1,000+ team of advisers was extended in January 1994 to the year 2000 at a cost of $819-million.
Other U.S. military firms working in Saudi Arabia include: Booz-Allen & Hamilton, which trains the Saudi Arabia Marine Corps and maintains the Saudi Armed Forces Staff College; Science Applications International Corp (SAIC) of the United States, which provides guidance for the Saudi Navy; and, O’Gara Protective Services (aka) Kroll Associates, Inc.), who was directly hired by the Saudi Defense Minister to provide security for the Saudi Royal Family. Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), of Alexandria, Virginia, was founded in 1987 by former special forces personnel ‘to perform worldwide corporate contractual functions requiring skills developed from military service’. MPRI has over 350 employees and can draw on a database of more than 6,000 former servicemen of the United States armed forces. MPRI is currently engaged in 20 contracts (17 domestic and 3 international) worth more than $90-million in total. Twenty-two (22) corporate officers of MPRI are former high-ranking military officers that include: U.S. Army Chief of Staff during the invasion of Panama and the Gulf War, i.e. General Carl Vuono.; U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, ex-Chief, i.e. Ed Soyster.; and, General Frederick Kroensen, former Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe.
Its mission statement claims that ‘MPRI can perform any task or accomplish any mission requiring military skills (or generalized skills acquired through military service), short of combat operations’. MPRI picked up the contract to train the Angolan Army after EO pulled out in January 1996. Its main focus of operations today is in the Balkans. MPRI training prepared the Croatian Army for its successful counter-offensive against the Serbs in 1995. The head of the Croatian Army Headquarters, Zvonimir Cervenko, stated ‘We can create by ourselves a new and efficient army. But why lose time if there are in the world institutions which can be paid so that they can transfer very quickly their maximum know-how’?
Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, who brokered the Dayton peace accord, spoke favourably of MPRI in testimony to the U.S. Congress. In March 1996 James Perdew, the Pentagon’s point man at Dayton, flew to Sarajevo to urge the Bosnian government to contract MPRI or one of its competitors for the training of the Bosnian armed forces. In May MPRI Won the contract over rivals Vinnell and SAIC. Its $400-million program is being paid for largely by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Brunei and Malaysia. Private Military Companies (PMC) or Non-Governmental Security Forces (NGSF)? Why is the U.S. government so keen to incorporate the services of private military firms in its international policy?
The shadow of the disastrous Somalia operation looms over U.S. peace-keeping operations. Cooperation with professional outsiders enables the U.S. State Department to keep a distance from potentially dangerous or compromising situations in the conduct of foreign policy. ‘We will not be able to leave unless the Bosnian government is armed and prepared to defend itself’, says Senator Joseph Biden (Democrat, Delaware), ‘That’s the ticket home for Americans’. MPRI has provided the most expeditious means of achieving that aim whilst maintaining the facade of official us neutrality in the region.
Similarly, Saudi Arabia, despite maintaining military contracts with U.S. companies valued at over $60-billion (US), officially does not sanction the stationing of U.S. troops in the country. Vinnell training helps link SANG with the Office of the Program Manager (OPM), an agency of the U.S. Army Material Command responsible for maintaining weapons programs. SANG shares its headquarters with OPM. Muslim nationalists in Saudi Arabia recognize this link as being a key connection between the Saudi and U.S. governments, which is why the building was targeted in the November 13, 1995 car bomb attack, which killed five (5) Americans and wounded thirty (30) more.
The growing number, expertise, and legitimacy of professional military firms are an unexpected consequence of the post Cold War ‘peace dividend’. The burgeoning opportunities provided by the ‘New World Order’ may eventuate in the mercenary contract being recognized as the standard means of warfare in the 21st Century. Alvin and Heidi Toffler think of this development in positive terms: Why not, when nations have already lost the monopoly of violence, consider creating volunteer mercenary forces organized by private corporations to fight wars on a contract-fee basis for the United Nations … Governments unwilling to send their own young men and women to die in combat … might have fewer reservations about allowing the UN to contract with a non-political, professional fighting force made up of volunteers from many nations-a rapid deployment unit for hire. Or one under contract to the UN alone.
On the eve of the first of six scheduled French nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific atoll of Mururoa in September 1995, Greenpeace, an offshoot of Prince Philip’s World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), carried out a series of violent protests. A Greenpeace team somehow managed to penetrate the highly militarized nuclear test zone. French authorities revealed that the team was led by two (2) highly trained retired professionals from the British Army’s Special Air Services (SAS), its elite paratrooper and commando arm. “They are people use to operations which have nothing to do with ecology,” commented the French Security Services commander on the scene. The incident points to the fact that SAS is active in international terrorism today, and that the motives behind its deployment are different than those of its patsies.
As this report will show, SAS deployment is a key component of the “afghansi.” SAS has a special role derived from the fact that it operates outside the British government command structure, and is directly beholden to the Sovereign. Formed in 1941 by Lt. Col. David Stirling, it has always drawn on the highest levels of the Scottish oligarchical families for its officer corps. Stirling himself was from the Fraser family (the Lords Lovat), one of the oldest and wealthiest of the Scottish Highland families. According to the British Army handbook, the SAS is “particularly suited, trained, and equipped for counter-revolutionary operations,” with a specialization in “infiltration,” “sabotage,” “assassination,” as well as “liaison with, organization, training, and control of friendly guerrilla forces operating against the common enemy.”
From its inception in World War II, Special Air Services was detailed to run sabotage behind enemy lines and to organize popular revolt, at first in North Africa, and then in the Balkans, where another Stirling cousin, Fitzroy Maclean, ran British operations. At the end of the war, SAS was disbanded, but it was soon revived to crush the Malay insurgency in Malaysia, and the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya. The principle employed was to take over the insurgency from within, and use it to destroy the native population. In his 1960 book Gangs and Countergangs, Col. Frank Kitson boasted that the British were covertly leading several large-scale Mau Mau units, and that many, if not all Mau Mau units had been synthetically created by the colonial authorities. As a result of this practice, 22 whites were killed during the insurgency, as compared to 20,000 natives.
Today, there are three (3) known SAS regiments, comprising 4,500 highly trained commandos in total. Training exercises for 15-man teams simulate terrorist assaults, in order, it is said, to “know the mind of the terrorist.” Such teams are often sent abroad, to train British Commonwealth and other military units in the techniques of terrorist assault, as well as the use of tribal auxiliaries in covert warfare. Through such means, SAS has built an extensive terrorist control capability, especially in its former colonies. Its soldiers currently serve officially in some 30 countries.
In order to facilitate its role as a disavowable arm of royal household covert operations, the SAS has spun off a series of private security and mercenary recruitment firms led by its retired or reserve-status officers. Among these are Keenie Meenie Services, whose name is taken from the Swahili term for the motion of a snake in the grass. During its heyday in the 1980s, KMS shared offices with “Saladin Security,” another SAS firm, next door to the 22nd SAS Regimental HQ in London. The firms were run by Maj. David Walker, an SAS South American specialist; Maj. Andrew Nightingale of SAS Group Intelligence; and Detective Ray Tucker, a former Arab affairs specialist at Scotland Yard. Others SAS firms include: Kilo Alpha Services (KAS), has been run by former SAS Counter-Terrorism Warfare team leader Lt. Col. Ian Crooke; Control Risks, run by former SAS squadron leader Maj. Arish Turtle; and, J. Donne Holdings, was run by SAS counterespionage specialist H.M.P.D. Harclerode, whose firm later provided bodyguards and commando training for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
SAS operations under KMS label have been particularly important. In 1983, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Oliver North, who was assigned to assist the U.S. National Security Agency (N.S.A.) in the Iran-Contra scandal, hired KMS to train the Afghan mujahideen, simultaneously mine Managua harbor in Nicaragua, and to train the Nicaraguan Contras. At the same time, KMS was detailed to provide personal security for the Saudi ambassador to the United States, i.e. Prince Bandar, a close associate of then Vice President George Bush, Sr. who helped supply tens of billions of Saudi dollars for “Iran-Contra” operations internationally.
KMS has a long history in the Arab and Muslim world. One of its first known assignments, back in the 1970s, was to aid Oman in repressing a revolt in its province of Dhofar. Oman remains a de facto British colony; its officer corps is dominated by British officers on secondment. KMS has also worked in Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, all of which are de facto British colonies, and all of which include numerous former SAS officers in their security apparatus. The current security chief in Bahrain, Ian Henderson, for example, was an SAS officer in Kenya during the Mau Mau period. The Omani chief of security is a former SAS officer, as is the case in Dubai, where KMS official Fiona Fraser, another Stirling relative, resides.
These oil sheikhdoms are key hubs for British covert ‘financial operations’ internationally. Dubai, for instance, is the center of the illegal flow of gold to Asia, while Kuwait has been a major bankroller of Afghan and Pakistan opium cultivation. The emirates’ gold trade, which is integral to the drugs-for-arms trade, is overseen by the British Bank of the Middle East, a Dubai-based subsidiary of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp., a centuries-old leading financier of the opium trade dominated by Stirling’s cousins, the Keswicks. Abu Dhabi, similarly, was the headquarters of the Bank of Commerce and Credit International, the now-defunct narco-bank. BCCI, which was run by WWF activist and funder Hassan Abedi, was a major conduit for bankrolling the Afghan War. See, e.g. X-CIA FILES, under “Political or Economic Intelligence.”
The relations of these SAS firms with the Iran-Contra narcotics trafficking, emerged dramatically in August 1989, when reports surfaced in the British and Italian press that the Colombian Cali illegal drug harvesting and transborder distribution Cartel, which has been reportedly tied to the former U.S. President George Bush, Sr. Administration, had hired SAS veterans to assassinate Pablo Escobar of the rival Medellín Cartel. On Aug. 16, three (3) days after the story broke, Colombian presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, a fierce opponent of the drug trade, was assassinated, some Colombian government sources say, by these British mercenaries. Among the individuals identified as working for the Cali Cartel were Col. Peter McAleese, a former SAS officer in Malaysia; Alex Lenox, a former member of the SAS Counter-Terrorism Warfare task force; and David Tomkins, a veteran of Afghanistan.
In July 2002, Dutch Radio – based on reports leaked by a Dutch military analysis firm – had accused the U.S. government of aiding and abetting terrorists in Macedonia. Not for the first time, Americans were rumored to have hired the services of Military Professional Resources Inc. (aka) MPRI, to train and assist the rebels of the NLA, the Albanian National Liberation Army, which skirmished for months with the Macedonian police and military throughout 2002. MPRI is a leading Private Military Company (PMC) whose presence was espied in other Balkan trouble spots, such as Croatia, Kosovo and Bosnia. The absurdity is that MPRI has been training the Macedonian army — to little avail it would seem — since 1998 under a “Stability and Deterrence Program.” Croatian former Foreign Minister, i.e. Tonino Picula, described to http://www.InternationalReports.net MPRI´s role as thus: “We started at the beginning of the 1990s lacking all kind of assistance. We faced a war of aggression. We needed all kinds of friends to enhance our capability to keep a schedule. I know that it (MPRI) did a significant job in Croatia as a part of U.S. assistance to Croatia during the 1990s.” Other governments – notably Colombia´s and Nigeria´s – were less sanguine about the utility of MPRI´s services. Colombian officials complained “the MPRI´s contributions were of little practical use,” while according to the Center for Democracy and Development, the vociferous objections of the Nigerian military led to the dismissal by the president of senior army officers, among them General Malu, the Nigerian chief of staff.
The end of the Cold War spelled the termination of many an illustrious career in the military and the secret services as well as the destabilization and disintegration of many states. The Big Powers are either much reduced (Russia), militarily over-stretched (Europe), armies ill-prepared for rapid deployment and low intensity warfare (everyone) or, lost interest in many erstwhile “hot spots” (United States). Besieged by overwhelming civil strife, rebellions and invasions, many countries, political parties, politicians, corporations, and businessmen seek refuge and protection. More than 5-million soldiers were let go all over the world between 1987-1994, according to Henry Sanchez of Rutgers University. Professional soldiers, suddenly unemployed in a hostile civilian environment, resorted to mercenariship. A few became rogue freelancers. The role of the Frenchman Bob Denard in the takeover of the Comoros Islands is now mythical. So is the failed coup in Seychelles in 1981, perpetrated by Colonel “Mad” Mike Hoare, a British ex-paratrooper.
Private armies for hire proliferated in the 1990s. Executive Outcomes (now defunct) acted in Sierra Leone, Congo and Angola, Sandline International in Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea, DynCorp in Colombia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Bosnia and, of course, MPRI in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, and, lately, Macedonia. Aviation Development Corp. flies surveillance planes for the CIA. Its involvement was revealed when, in Peru, it misidentified a civilian light plane as carrying narcotics, which was shot down by the Peruvian air force. But these are only the tip of a growing iceberg.
A quick survey of company Web sites, annual reports and news clippings reveals Vinnell Corp. was established in the United States during the Great Depression and currently is owned by TRW. It has coached militaries, operated facilities and provided logistical support in more than 50 countries, starting in Saudi Arabia in 1975 where it won a controversial $77-million contract to train oilfield guards.
BDM International, Betac, Logicon and SAIC are competitors. Kroll Associates, Inc. of New York and Saladin Security, Ltd. of London are primarily involved as PMC intelligence gatherers. Brown and Root of Houston, Texas, provides logistical support to peacekeeping operations, for example in Kosovo. Pacific Architects and Engineering furnishes logistical support and private security to armies the world over, mainly to the ECOMOG West African multilateral peacekeeping force. Control Risks Group offers corporate security, research and intelligence solutions. It specializes in hostage situations and boasts having advised in more than 1,200 kidnappings and extortion cases in 80 countries. Armor Holdings was founded in 1969 as “American Body Armor and Equipment” and incorporated in 1996. It is a private security company that was taken over by Jules B. Kroll of Kroll Associates, Inc. Its London-based subsidiary, Defense Systems Ltd., guards industrial and other sensitive sites, such as embassies and the headquarters of international organizations, mainly the United Nations. Armor (owned by Kroll Associates, Inc.) manufactures police and other “non-lethal” equipment. It is a leading maker of armored passenger vehicles (Hummer or Hum-V) and the prime contractor to the U.S. military for the supply of armoring and blast protection for high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles.
Gray Security is another private security company with clients in both Africa and among the Latin American immigrants in Florida in the United States. Some private military companies are ethnically pure. Succumbing to market realities, the legendary Gurkhas now offer their services through Gurkha International. The oil-rich region of Cabinda is air-patrolled by Airborne Surveillance and Security Services (aka) AirScan.
Big money is involved. The Los Angeles Times (April 14) quoted an, Equitable Services, security industry analyst. In 1997, it predicted the international security market would mushroom from $56-billion (US) in 1990 to $220-billion (US) in 2010. This was long before the boost was given to the sector by the September 11, 2001 incident. “The top five (5) executives at Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego made between $825,000 and $1.8-million (US) in salaries in 2001, and each held more than $1.5-million in stock options,” the L.A. Times further reported. Control Risks Group´s turnover last year exceeded $50-million (US). Armor Holding´s 1999 revenues exceeded $150-million (US). Prior to its controversial demise, Executive Outcomes of South Africa was said by Corporate Watch, The Weekly Mail, the British non-government organization, The Corner House, and Toward Freedom Magazine to have earned between $55 and $80-million in its last 4-years – excluding the $1.8-million ‘per month’ contract it has signed with Sierra Leone, most of which went unpaid.
There were unsubstantiated allegations of securing a share of the diamond trade in the ravaged country as well. The Sandline firm contract with Papua New Guinea amounted to $36-million for the first 3-months with just under $1-million for any consecutive month – or a total of about $45-million the first year. The country´s new government at first refused to honor the commitments of its predecessor – hurling at it vague corruption charges, but then compromised with Sandline and agreed to dole out $13-million. MPRI, now in its 14th year, employs more than 800 people, most former high-level U.S. military personnel, draws on a database of 12,500 freelancers, former defense, law enforcement, and other professionals from which the company can identify every skill produced in the armed forces and public safety sectors. Many of its clients work under the government´s Foreign Military Sales program and abide by U.S. General Services Administration tariffs. A subsidiary of the Hogg Robinson insurance group, i.e. Control Risks Group (aka) CRG, was founded in 1975 and claims to have had “more than 5,300 clients, including 86 of the Fortune 100 companies, in more than 130 countries, 83% of the firms comprising the FTSE (UK traded market exchange) where 100 use one (1) or more of CRG´s services. CRG has 400 employees in 16 offices around the world and recently acquired Network Holdings Ltd., the U.K.´s largest private forensic laboratory.
The Armor Holdings Products Division is made up of nine (9) operating companies in eight (8) geographic locations. It offers its branded security products through a network of more than 500 distributors and agents internationally. ArmorGroup employs 5,500 people in 38 countries. Modern private military companies, such as Sandline, are veritable — though miniature — armies, replete with staff military ranks, uniforms, doctrine, training syllabi, cohesion, unit spirit and discipline. Smaller, ad hoc outfits from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, France, the United Kingdom, Israel, Croatia, South Africa, the United States and other nations scour the Earth for emerging conflicts. One fact often overlooked is that just any PMC is ‘not capable’ of undertaking just ‘any operation’. While these firms ‘can’ undertake ‘small-unit operations’ in developing world conflicts, it is unlikely that they would be capable – or called upon – to undertake large-scale (battalion size+) operations outside of the developing world. There are differences even in the composition of the PMC sector. While the strongest companies exist along permanent, corporate lines (such as EO, Sandline, DSL, and MPRI), there are many others who while operating internationally, call themselves Private Military Companies or PMCs that may probably be little more than upscale mercenary operations comprised of an interesting and unwieldy cadre of personnel who may exist for only short periods of time.
Examples of these might include: Stabilco, Secrets, Security Advisory Services Limited, and Special Projects Services, Ltd. Examples of modern mercenaries include the “White Legion” during the 1996-1997 Zairian conflict; dispossessed former combatants flooding out of conflicts in the fSU and Balkans; Ukrainians in Angola and Sierra Leone for both sides; specialist pilots in Zaire, Congo-Brazzaville, Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau; Israeli, British and American former special forces personnel in Mexico, Colombia and the Iron Triangle training security forces of drug cartels; and, former Spetznazsi and KGB (now FSB) personnel involved with Russian mafia. Private Armies/Militias and Warlords These groupings of private forces represent the next rung up the food chain from mercenaries. Although such forces can include mercenaries in organized numbers, such as the “5 Commando” group in the Belgian Congo during its wars of the 1960s, these groupings do not always have a national outlook to their conflict; indeed, these groups can often be transnational, supported by whatever country they can obtain funds and hardware from at any given time, and fight simply for control of a region or resource. Such diverse entities as transnational terrorist organizations, religiously-motivated combatant groups, such as those supported by the Islamic Brotherhood, and leaders such as John Garang in Sudan all fall into this category. They do, however, fight with more organization than lone mercenaries. Their efforts are better networked worldwide and more directed over longer periods of time as is seen in the al-Qaeda group.
Private Military Companies (PMCs) are the ultimate evolution to all non-governmental security force groups. The clear differences in their operations is that they are organized along corporate lines (including boards of directors, share-holdings, and corporate structures). Their work has a clear contractual aim and obligation to their clients, and they engage in military operations – across the spectrum where necessary – something most Private (Commercial) Security Companies (PSCs) will not undertake. PMC – Western Government Covert Wings Much of the negative attention that has surrounded PMC operations has been a question as to whether PMCs (and PSCs) are covert wings of Western government foreign policies. In many respects, this is the privatization of Western special forces and intelligence capabilities; however, this comparison must not be taken too far.
It has appeared though that the U.S. government is more inclined towards using such firms for clandestine or non-disclosed operations overseas (one U.S. writer observed that the U.S. governments use of PMCs represented the “covert proxyization of U.S. foreign policy”). The UK government has stated clearly that – while it sees a usefulness for such firms in operations relating to protection for its embassies overseas, military support and training services to HM Armed Forces and governments friendly to the UK, and protection to UN and NGO (non-governmental organizations) humanitarian intervention missions – it will continue to use, and even increase its use of, UK government agencies and forces for such operations ‘where required’.
The reality is that, while special forces and intelligence operations are the clandestine or covert wing of foreign policies, PMCs simply fit or fill a foreign policy need; this does not make them the covert wings of Western governments – in most cases. There have been suggestions that many Western governments, including the UK, have used PMCs in place of national assets in that just as much as allegations surrounded Sandline International’s relationship with the UK intelligence community.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had once been rumored to call the Virginia U.S. firm, i.e. Vinnell Corporation (a subsidiary of TRW and BDM International), “our own private mercenary army in Vietnam.” While PMCs may assist in the furtherance of foreign policy objectives, they leave very little (if any) ‘evidence’ that they are as closely linked with Western governments as some would believe. This then makes detecting their operations almost impossible, let alone being able to identify their agents worldwide. The effectivity of these firms in replacing governmental national military forces in regional humanitarian and peace support operations is another question not yet fully agreed upon, worldwide.
In considering regulatory frameworks for private military, intelligence and security industries, Western governments need to consider a number of factors. The first is differentiating between ‘mercenaries’ and PMCs/PSCs. This consideration is impacted upon by issues such as the transparency of the industry (keeping commercial proprietary considerations in mind) and the need for accountability when operating out of Western countries; the fact that PMCs profess to fill a gap left by Western governments unwilling to contribute forces to contemporary peacekeeping operations or to utilize their special forces in a regional role; the fact that PMCs can provide no more than a band-aid solution to any problem, never long-term stability and security (this must be provided by the international community); and, finally, the fact that developing world states continue to have a need for these firms regardless of any vestiges of international condemnation.
Over all of these considerations, the difference in activities (mercenaries versus PMCs; commercial security and training versus combat, etc.) must be kept in mind when distinguishing roles if ever eventually regulated. The second factor is whether PMCs are capable of undertaking traditional peacekeeping operations in place of national military forces. In many respects, PMCs (and some PSCs) currently undertake missions which are the traditional domain of peacekeeping operations; these include protection of humanitarian assistance, demining, child-soldier repatriation, paramedical clinics, and other factors. PMCs can continue to provide military assistance (an example of this being DSLs MATTs) in a peacekeeping environment where international peacekeeping forces are not present; these companies could also provide rapid-reaction forces to intervene, on behalf of the UN, OAU, OAS or ASEAN, to halt aggression or stop genocide when Western governments are unable or unwilling to act.
Finally, PMCs are also capable of supporting the execution of international arrest warrants, conducting hostage-rescue operations, or serving as counter-narcotics/-terrorism forces. The way forward may be clear now. Effective regulation, at both national and international levels, and not prohibition is the key. PMCs will continue to operate, as they always have done, and cannot be banned; mercenaries is another things entirely. By introducing effective legislation which differentiates between mercenarism and PMC/PSC activity, the industry can be rendered more transparent and gain more legitimacy.
The world security services market has a projected annual rate of growth of 8% for 1995 to 2000. Projected total revenues for the security services market world-wide for the year 2000 is expected to grow to US$61.8 million and continue to $87.9-million by the year 2005. This increased demand for more private security and military business service-related activities is due to growing economic activity in developing countries. Overall, the private security sector generates more than $50-billion worldwide annually, including arms sales and services. In Asia-Pacific alone, the security services industry represented a $5.4-billion market for private security services in 1995, which represents the 3rd largest in the World just behind North America and Western Europe. PMCs should not be allowed to become supplemental covert wings of any foreign policy. Effective national regulation, twinned with international regulation, is required to ensure public transparency.
The South African initiative to regulate foreign military assistance, while laudable as a starting point, is problematic and has resulted in the lessening (rather than enhancement) of transparency into these activities – the individuals and companies are mobile, as is being demonstrated currently in South Africa. Provision of foreign military assistance is a commodity and should be treated as such; under such an understanding, arms-control initiatives provide a basis for regulation. The current UK guidelines on arms-control and the European Union (EU) Code of Conduct on the arms trade provide a starting point for examining potential ways forward. What is the future of PMCs? In the short term, PMCs will continue to operate, albeit not on the same scale as EO did throughout the middle of this decade. The U.S. government often pushes for its national companies to obtain contracts; Britain does the same, albeit much more quietly. France uses its intelligence services to facilitate such operations by French firms. In Israel and South Africa, parliamentary and popular international pressure and condemnation has forced the governments to place controls on the provision of such services.
There is however, no fixed lifetime for these companies; as long as conflict persists, so will the PMCs. The international community, as has been witnessed once again in Kosovo, has demonstrated time and again its unwillingness to become involved in regional conflicts where Western foreign policy concerns are not threatened directly, and so it seems this gap will continue to be filled by the Private Military Company (PMC).