A mercenary, sometimes known as a soldier of fortune, is an individual who takes part in military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a member of any other official military. Mercenaries fight for money or other forms of payment rather than for political interests. In the last century, mercenaries have increasingly come to be seen as less entitled to protections by rules of war than non-mercenaries. Indeed, the Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured soldiers of a regular army. In practice, whether or not a person is a mercenary may be a matter of degree, as financial and political interests may overlap, as was often the case among Italian condottieri.
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- "Mercenaries?" I ventured. "Agh! Mercenaries!" Bob exclaimed, like I had stabbed him. "Now that's the worst thing you can be. Worse than a prostitute. Your life is the most valuable thing you got. Die for your own freedom, that's great, but kill and die for a buck? He looked at me again, shooting more wisdom out of his violently pointing finger. "Never do anything just for money!"
- Paul Jury, States of Confusion: My 19,000-Mile Detour to Find Direction (2011), p. 168
- Today, 75 percent of U.S. forces in Afghanistan are contracted... America is waging a war largely via contractors, and U.S. combat forces would be impotent without them... Contracting is big business... in the 2014 fiscal year, the Pentagon obligated $285 billion to federal contracts—more money than all other government agencies received, combined... Today, more contractors are killed in combat than soldiers... the real number of contractor deaths —versus the “official” tally—remains unknown.... Most of those fighting for the United States abroad aren’t even Americans. Private military companies are multinational corporations that recruit globally. Many of the larger private military companies also hire local “subs” or sub-contractors, often invisible to U.S. government officials and reporters. In 2010, during the height of the wars, a Senate investigation found evidence that these “subs” were linked to murder, kidnapping, bribery, and anti-Coalition activities...
- America's Addiction to Mercenaries, The Atlantic, (12 August 2016)
- Giving birth to such markets is just one of the many ways that contractors encourage dangerous policymaking. Unlike the Pentagon or CIA, private military companies do not report to Congress, circumventing democratic accountability of the armed forces... Contractors, then, allow policymakers to wage war outside of the public eye. Their deaths rarely attract headlines the way those of fallen American soldiers do. And yet the consequences are no less far-reaching for being hidden. America’s reliance on contractors to fight its wars has launched a new breed of mercenary around the world... No international laws exist to regulate the mercenary industry. What we’re left with: If anyone with enough money can wage war for any reason they want to, then new superpowers will emerge: the ultra-rich and multinational corporations. Oil companies and oligarchs should not have armies.
- America's Addiction to Mercenaries, The Atlantic,(12 August 2016)
- They go by many names- mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, wild geese, hired guns, legionnaires, contract killers, hirelings, condottieri, contractors, and corporate warriors- these men who have fought for money and plunder rather than cause or patriotism. Soldiers of fortune have always played significant roles in warfare, they are present on the battlefields of today, and they certainly will be a part of whatever combat occurs in the future.
- Michael Lee Lanning, Mercenaries (2005), p. 1
- The need for soldiers of fortune has and will change little. Their organization into corporate-owned private military companies is a major evolution, but mercenaries will exist wherever warfare exists.
- Michael Lee Lanning, Mercenaries (2005), p. 234
- Blackwater founder Erik Prince is pushing a plan to deploy thousands of privately-hired mercenaries to topple the Venezuelan Maduro regime- and many veterans are saying, “Put me in, coach.” In an extreme case of capitalism in action, the monarch of mercenary companies has been soliciting investment and support from Venezuelan exiles and influential conservatives. Prince has offered to send over 5,000 mercenaries to help Juan Guaido, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition forces.