The US is sending more troops and Apache helicopters to Iraq to combat ISIS. According to RT the US is deploying 217 troops to bring the number up to 4,087. This extra deployment will be used to retake Mosul from ISIS. Mosul fell under ISIS control in 2014 even though the US were there fighting ISIS. Some of the troops will be trainers and advisors so this means that US advisors will be stationed near the battlefront to assist Iraqi units moving toward Mosul. The Apache helicopters will also be used to assist to retake Mosul. Iraq’s leaders only agreed to the deployment if the US assisted with specific capabilities that would be needed to retake Mosul. This is a better idea than dropping leaflets to ISIS oil truck drivers warning of an impending strike. The US is also giving the Kurdish Peshmerga $415 million to fight ISIS in Syria. This seems a bit odd considering that the US’ ally Turkey is fighting the Kurdish Peshmerga.
All this is in contrast to President Obama’s commitment to no US boots on the ground. But there is a way to get around the no US boots on the ground statement. Mercenaries can be used. The US has tried training and arming moderate rebels, or for a better word, mercenaries in Syria only for them to defect to ISIS. According to The Guardian a UK based private military contractor employed former child soldiers from Sierra Leone as mercenaries in Iraq. The company, Aegis Defence Services, had a series of contracts from the US worth hundreds of millions of dollars to provide guards to protect US military bases in Iraq. The company started using recruits from African country’s after 2011 paying them $16 US per day. The company used to use mercenaries from the US, UK and Nepal but obviously to save money they expanded to the African countries. A director of Aegis Defence Services said that contractors had a duty to recruit from countries such as Sierra Leone where there’s high unemployment and a decent workforce in order to reduce costs for the US presence in Iraq.
He also said that child soldiers aren’t liable for war crimes but “they are once they reach 18, in fact citizens with full rights to seek employment, which is a basic human right. So we would have been completely in error if, having gone to Sierra Leone, we excluded those people”.
So these young men who were forced into becoming child soldiers are then used as mercenaries. How many of these young men would have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? The companies do not know because they are only vetted for physical health.
According to the Guardian Aegis Defence Services was founded in 2002 by Tim Spicer, the former Scots Guards officer who was at the centre of the 1998 “arms to Africa” scandal, in which his previous company Sandline was found to be breaching sanctions by importing 100 tonnes of weapons to Sierra Leone in support of the government.
The maker of a recent documentary film, Mads Ellesoe, titled ‘The Child Soldier’s New Job’ has said “When war gets outsourced, then the companies try to find the cheapest soldier’s globally. Turns out that that is former child soldiers from Sierra Leone. I think it is important that we in the west are aware of the consequences of the privatisation of war”.
Sierra Leone remains one of the world’s poorest countries, and the documentary charts how from 2009 onwards private military firms turned to it, along with Uganda and Kenya, for cheap labour to guard military installations in Iraq.
A trailer for the documentary can be seen in the article here.