The news that Simon Mann is being released from his confinement in a deep dark African jail is no doubt cheering for his family, but probably less so for the likes of Mark Thatcher who will no doubt be rueing the day that he ‘paid for an air ambulance’. Mann’s remarkable ability not to remain tight lipped will surely result in some candid remarks to newspapers in weeks to come.
But surely, one might think Mann is something of a one off, an unusual case, there can’t be many mercenaries knocking about, ready to go off on half baked coup plots. Well ok, most of them may not be ready to get involved in such nonsense as Mann did, but there are certainly plenty of them around.
I speak dear reader, as one who knows, having been involved in one way or another with two separate groups of people who were directly involvedin these kind of activities. Strange for a pacifist I know, but there you go.
I am not going to name names, but one chap I did some research work for a number of years ago recently returned to the Uk after a sojourn in Sudan, where he was working for one fo the rebel factions. Like Mann he is an outwardly posh, smart looking figure, who has an air of authority and mystery which is carefully cultivated to impress those who pay him. They might be heads of multinational corporations or insurance companies, or they might just as well be leaders of rebel armies.
Another group I worked for during another contract were led by a quiet, friendly looking chap who seemed more interested in walking in the countryside than working on a computer, he it turned out had been a senior NCO in the SAS for a number of years. I beleive he is right now in Iraq, where he has been providing private security services for a number of years.
During the time when I worked for these men I came into contact with lots of other people working ‘on the circuit’, this being just after the twin towers fell, they were all of a sudden in great demand, today I beleive there is much less demand, and the massive pay packets demanded by skilled ex SAS men have been diluted because of the flood of much cheaper gun carriers from Eastern Europe.
Most of these guys dont look like Simon Mann, many of them are very inconspicuous, that’s how they are trained to be in fact. Their leaders may be a bit more toffish, but in my experience most of the guys who do the shooting are working class men with families to look after. And if what they told me is true, most of them are Scottish.
Remember Margaret Thatcher’s comment about the SAS men she met having ginger hair and moustaches? I found that to be true too, often not very tall either. Apparently the muscular guys dont fare so well in ‘the Regiment’ where stamina and an ability to be bloody minded are prized assets. The guys with the big shoulders tend to end up in the Royal Marines, or the shaky boats (SBS) where their ability to climb up ropes and swim at 100 miles an hour is more valuable.
Until the Government does something about PMC’s (Private military companies) there will remain many mercenaries available for hire here in the UK, anyone with enough money could get a small army together pretty quickly, and providing they are whisking them off to foreign soil, they wont exactly struggle to find volunteers.
EDIT: The best of today’s crop of articles, albeit somewhat sympathetic to Mann, is possibly this one from the Times, which raises his involvement in EO and Sandline, two legends of the Mercenary world.