Private armies in history: A modern-day solution for fighting terrorism

Private armies in history: A modern-day solution for fighting terrorism

Just one of the latest jihadist attacks this past week, a school bombing in Kenya killing at least 148, was reminiscent of the Boko Haram’s atrocities committed against the Christian schoolgirls in Nigeria. Also this past week, Nigeria, the world’s seventh most populated country, elected former ousted and jailed military dictator, and Muslim, General Buhari. This made the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan the first Nigerian leader in 55 years to democratically cede power to his rival. Ironically, General Buhari has promised to crush Boko Haram, and battle corruption — making Nigeria a comical microcosm of worldwide government corruption and failure in its fight against jihadists.

So far, the efforts of the last three American presidents to take on the scourge of international terrorism have amounted to so much weak tea. Bill Clinton lobbed missiles at Afghanistan, which only served to infuriate and embolden al Qaeda and win them popular support. George W. Bush arguably took his eye off the ball, failing to shut down the Taliban in Afghanistan before opening up a can of whoop-ass in Iraq. Barack Obama’s approach has been so myopic and dissipated that it would take an entire book to outline his failures in combating terrorism.

What is really needed to stop the cancer of jihadism once and for all is a formula that has worked repeatedly throughout history. We need a fighting force that will stop at nothing to decapitate the enemy. I am referring to a private army of mercenaries.

In 1096, the most famous private army in history was first formed in response to a request of Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos to repel the invading Muslim Turks. This marked the beginning of the First Crusade and the most famous private armies in all of history, including the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights.

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My purpose here isn’t to argue the merits of Islam, but to state facts about the Crusades. The Christian world had at the time been reduced to almost one third its previous size by the sword of the Profit. Muslim invaders had reached as far into the heart of Europe as central France. The Crusades were a response to Islamic Imperialism (which had also taken the Christian Holy Lands during the Muslim conquests of the Levant between 632–661), with an objective of saving Europe and Western Civilization from Jihad and Sharia.

Not to exclude Buddism, the Sohei, meaning literally “fighting monks” or “monk warriors,” were similar in structure to the Knights of the Crusades. They operated within a large extended brotherhood, and unlike the Samurai, they were mercenaries without loyalty to the Emperor.

The mercenary is regarded as the world’s second oldest profession. Historic leaders like Alexander, the Great and Hannibal both paid foreign nationals from all over the world to fight in their armies. The most famous example being the “Ten Thousand,” contracted by Cyrus the Younger in 401 BC to oust his brother from the Persian throne.

In fact before 1648 and the end of Europe’s Thirty Years War (marking the modern age of the national military), medieval powers from popes to kings routinely hired private fighters to wage war for them. For example The White Company in 14th century Italy, the Swiss Guard, the Varangian Guard, the Catalan Grand Company to name a few.

The Dutch East India Company and the British owned East India Company controlled standing armies larger than most European states. By 1669 the Dutch East India Company had 40 warships and a private army of over 10,000 soldiers. Those numbers were later made petty by the East India Company, who by the beginning of the 19th century had a standing army of close to a quarter million, while employing the most people of any company in the world.

Today the world’s second largest employer (after Walmart) is G4S Security, existing in over 125 countries. Asia Security Group, DynCorp, and Academi are a few other private security companies with mercenary armies.

Academi, previously and more infamously known as Blackwater, employed 30 thousand soldiers fighting in Iraq. Founder Erik Prince was quoted, “If the Administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job.” “It’s a shame the [Obama] administration crushed my old business, because as a private organization, we could have solved the boots-on-the-ground issue, we could have had contracts from people that want to go there as contractors; you don’t have the argument of US active duty going back in there,” Prince said during the discussion with retired four-star Gen. James Conway. “[They could have] gone in there and done it, and be done, and not have a long, protracted political mess that I predict will ensue.”

The United States Constitution affords Congress the power to issue “Letters of Marque and Reprisal,” which are official government licenses to grant private citizens the ability to attack and combat ships of another nation. Both Ron and Rand Paul stated that this power should be used to fight African piracy. Similar power could be granted to private armies to combat Jihadists internationally.

I propose creating an NGO (the popular “non-governmental organization” term) that is openly funded by both world governments and private personal contributions. The organization will hire existing private security contractor groups like Academi, organize new private military groups, and form an International Private Army to combat international terrorism. The NGO could openly quantify international support on both the governmental and private level, while providing a more effective and cost-effective solution.

Complying with the international law of the Geneva Convention, this Private Army would seek and destroy ISIS on a level not yet known to mankind.

With world governments too politically constrained, corrupt, or weak to fight a real war, now is time to resurrect the age of the private army.

So let’s channel the “Flying Tigers” mercenaries of WW2, and their iconic shark-faced planes, and annihilate the Islamic State, the Nazis of our time. Citizen Liberty is ready to suit-up and fight.

Better idea? Let’s hear it.

Howard Portnoy contributed to this report.

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Citizen Liberty

Citizen Liberty

Citizen Liberty is a perpetual traveler originally from the New York City area. His columns also appear at his blog Citizen Liberty.


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