« Stuff You Should Know

How Mercenaries Work

2010-01-07 | 🔗

Mercenaries are soldiers of fortune who fight in wars and conflicts for profit. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the fascinating history of mercenaries past and present in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.

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hey, look into the podcast and Josh clogged with me is always a smile and chuck bright smile. How you doing check, I feel like I'm just wist in here like velvet, certain you are you electricity, the clown when it comes to do, was recording for encrusted all right. Yet again, TAT has meant that so why she came in on it sitting on a wing in a prayer. I just walked in yet Travis Beds, nasty out raining rainy com and we're going to talk about something else. It is cold air mercenaries check. We ve talked about Delta force before remember way, to keep her composure. Because we're tittering and excited know there is already taken to task a little bit by lowering violence. That's not necessarily going this. When I have a feeling that the mercenaries which are, as I think, but he knows. Are soldiers for higher are pretty much
firstly hated by everybody, yeah, ok, adding that the earth nobody likes a mercenary one of the reasons why this because you- go to war. People go to war because somebody is getting pushed him by some other big jerk country, ensure- or you know, there's some dictator that should be toppled its ideological on the suit on the surface right right so the tracks in a brave men and women braver people than us much who go the service not for money, but because they they want to protect democracy, freedom. What have you got? Your mercenaries don't do that they go and say this country's paying a lot right now. As for that, therein, and I'm gonna go kill for them sure for money for money, they're pretty much hit men yeah. I didn't realize that the fascinating history, the mercenary until I read the note in William Harris by the way, did a humdinger of a job,
I did it and find your yeah. So I took let's talk about mercenaries. What what did they come from? Will Josh earliest account that we know of is about twenty four hundred years ago when the Persian hence in General Cyrus, the younger which, like that Cyrus the younger right not to be confused. Cyrus, the elderly guy right, the bald. He hardly ten thousand, which was an army of greek mercenaries to seize the throne and Persia. From his own brother near the water sources, yeah and absent I'm not sure, but I've seen them, maybe three hundred so that the ten thousand were pretty tough. I was wondering: are the three hundred in the ten thousand related over the three hundred the remains of the decimated ten thousand. If so, their tufty, they were tough deserves great movie. Hundreds dead, stupid disfigured guy gave him up. Yet and oh the Arabs,
did you know in the movie? They they wanted to recreate with these guys, probably looked like so when they were training, they didn't use any equipment, they did things like role. Tyres up hills are related like real, like earthy plexus out. The strong and competition is very much a Caroline concrete beer kegs tat right, unlike pickup tractor trailing, treat. Fear takes what away the beer seriously so yeah with. So that was back in what form one BC right eye and since then we ve pretty much used mercenaries. Almost honour, interrupted They made a pretty big splash. I guess you could say in a hundred years war which lasted longer than dear study did, but I mean they're, not gonna, say what the hundred and sixteen year war near the does everything rank occurring between the english and French. From my thirteen thirty seven fourteen fifty three
Well, that's the problem of the long war is that you're armies are gonna, be decimated precisely so. You have to turn to the Mena. The pay for higher guys will not only that the standing political army didn't really appear until I think the seventeenth century. So back beckoning timely, all these desperate land, owning earls and dukes and princes they had their private armies and they were all for pay, but a lot of homer join from their own country, but yeah. You make an excellent point. When you have a hundred year war, you gonna go through a lotta, your countrymen. This is kind of one of the aspects of war, so In the hundred year war, a guy named Edward of Woodstock who's known as the black prince, which, by the way from now on, I want you to call me the black prince. I was going to call you Josh to Woodstock now
yeah. He he made use of mercenaries in what had he pronounced his chuck. I'm gonna go with shall share yes, which basically means burn, pillaged, loo and rape. Yes, and that's all, I think I've found a blazing saddles might know that better is the number six where they go written into town weapon in a lump in every living thing, yeah yeah, that's what they say, blazing so yeah, but now set a number six dance later on, which was really great line. I wanna go at a shovel chabannes, maybe so fondly night, because look more bloody and horrifying yeah and then the the hundred years or ends. And I guess the use of mercenaries can a dried up for a little while right, yeah so my earlier common about them being used, uninterrupted was totally baseless, well I'll, betcha there somewhere. Are you staring there right, just not as widely right? Let's talk about some famous mercenaries, their chuck. Ok, like the Swiss Guard, I think
good, exhilarating, tough. The other made the point in here away and made the point in here that sometimes a soldier would get a specialty, a combat special so they would be sought out because of its opening your war or a battle they might be in the Swiss Guard with such because they were masters of the Pike right and there still around there's a pretty cool photo of them and they are holding their pikes really. They look gets its pretty awesome since the king euphemism before we will fight for my colleague other what about the other, when you speak, German, I found out Chuck speaks to remain neutral, goes natural, Cutty pronounces went and you're going to assess, and I practice that I'm gonna go with the launch again. Lunch Kenneth, the ok with better. And while I was gonna get. You know I do speak German, but that's a really tough one. Even if you are german, anything you can you say say hello to my little friends: Zack Tallow to mining and frightened and check the Beverly Hills to our favoured by the way right
So, yes, those german soldiers actually also use the pike Anne, but they also used guns which was Cotonou in the fifteenth and sixteen centre right, muskets, Arquebuse archivist, So those guys made a pretty big impression, one of them This is why they were, I guess, heavily sought. After was because, unlike the Swiss Guard, they I mean they specialised indifferent weapons, but they had like different aspects of their companies like right. You know somebody would use the must get. Somebody else, use pikes and may also uses sword, so they were like everything you needed all in one night and actually did you know that in the revolutionary war there are tons and tons of mercenaries until this and am surprised they have not made a film about it? Yet because William and heathen has this sourced said
during the Revolutionary WAR, Americans, probably fought more Germans than they did English British right there's a true, zip possible. I could see that it's crazy. You know your brother end up. The one of those I am one of those mercenaries german mercenaries- I think they're called passions, turned out to be the headless horseman. I did all they could bud, echoed buds foe, oh yeah, that's right, yet are above was the is that he was the direct manager, so yeah. What's it like, we said stating armies kind of became popular in the sixteenth century. Never really the popularity never waned, much unlike the twist they so political standing armies around for a while right, even the dancer to it so as a result, mercenaries of kind of fallen by the wayside in till bore to yeah
haven't changed, everything in a lot of the lot of what were too was a probably the most landmark event in the last I dont know since the Magna Carta. Maybe everything changed after you know Joe, got volunteers. Actually, so technically they were mercenaries, look over in a minute. What the Genie Geneva Convention actually says is a mercenary, but they think the Germans extra volunteers from other country yet fry will carbon free, Willie will it so yeah? That was what you actually wreck. They were there in, since they were volunteers and they were paid, they weren't technically mercenaries, but they fulfil. The other stuff, the other criteria right So then, yet after world to part of the Geneva Convention is agreement. Among all the warring nation, the allies on the roof of war. Mirth
there is in their use in their definition, is very much addressed right check. Yes, in the first protocol of nineteen, seventy seven should cover the criteria yes, in order to be considered a mercenary Josh, you must be especially recruited to take part in the conflict but not a member of the armed forces of the state that recruited you rat. That's can with Big one like the german volunteers, moreover to their from other countries exactly you need to actively engage in hostilities. Otherwise it gets you pray wouldn't be mercenary, if not you're, just some guy standing on the sidelines exactly. You are motivated by private. In and your paid substantially more than ordinary armed forces of that state soldier of fortune. You will get into that too. That's not quite as lucrative when he factor in some other things. He's, gonna surprised about that, and but also at last one. He no check their pretty much does rapid everything you covered all the big point,
And even earlier than that, mercenaries were kind of put on the fringes right after all, Two in the original Geneva Convention was established because they created the definition for lawful combatant, yes, basically we think of his soldiers, somebody who belongs to a nation, a supportive, that's a war right, because if your lawful combatant, you can engaging offensive conflict here with with people in other countries representing the people and if you're caught you are expected to be treated as a prisoner of war, exactly if you're a mercenary your way. Far out there and you can have on your own, like you- can be tried for murder, yeah and pass orchard. Whatever tour Remember I think in September two thousand, seven yak water, very famous outfit Alfayoum Dougie brothers, on a black water. No, no we're not talking about that.
Not Africa, yet you know backwater. I actually responded to someone asked to do something on black water and air. Find it yeah. Maybe we should do to do be brothers as a whole and he didn't get the joke at all. He rode back and said now. That's where that you thought that I was really talking about black water. It's weird that you thought Dinah. Well, that's weird eating at the joke right here Oh you remember you, ok, so you are aware of black watcher, ok and they think that, right after this, they changed their named a black water will widen. Now, there's the exceed a really yeah. They like you Jane their name with very horrible travel. But you know a lot of people call the them mercenaries. There now called private military contractors, but basically they supply soldiers of fortune right yeah for security, mainly and on that we remember two thousand seven. There is horrible thing that went down in Baghdad, where I think seventeen iraqi civilians were killed when the wind, like water contractors open fire.
Illustrator had Asian got real trigger happy and I think the they found that fourteen of those deaths were unjustified yeah. They broke the deadly force. Rules right in Iraq was chomping at the bit and prosecute these guys. I believe the U S stepped in and protected on, but I mean they. It was very possible for them to be prosecuted because they weren't. Awful combatants, while the. U S, uses a lot of these contractors as it turns out tat, because and I saw The- u n- passed a resolution in the late eighties outlawing this a mercenary, but the you Es conveniently has still not signed that document, because We want to hire the mercenaries Keziah. What what happened- is in way makes a great point is with the different of warfare. Now you have lots of weapon systems, and so where's, it are trained. A manly systems and operating system, so it happens, is, are spread a little thin with some of these dated eight duties like security of like high ranking civil servants at anything,
right which the military would usually take care of. Right anytime, you see humming cars. I you'll see a couple, a white guys who wear Oakley sunglasses and have beards with thumb. I guess Heckler cock guns. You and they are, I think, former dealt force, but now they work for z, yet an awkward or not smiling. No, but they provide security. And they can do that lawfully. You can provide security. You can provide a defensive security where you're not engaging in any reference whatsoever right arm, supposedly right and then a you're, a lawful or your bureau, mercenary under the Geneva Convention, ran the guidelines in the protocol. Yeah, I guess staff we're ok. I said that the EU s lights to use these these soldiers of fortune there's there's no hard numbers, but they suggest that more than a hundred and eighty thousand of these contracts. A working in Iraq alone and there
together all over the world that there outnumber the United States military in total, and we spend about a hundred billion dollars in the Iraq war on these mercenary right, which I think something like a quarter. A third of the total that we had spent yeah when this article was written. I think in wait, two thousand eight right yeah, which of course a smaller now so shock. You know Africa has been a big site for mercenaries and still continues to be, that's what I hear their pretty much every time there is a revolution accrue. Attempts at me like that may have some cash. They hire outside mercenaries right yeah. And there's a guy named Simon man. You remember this yeah back in two thousand for March. Two thousand for man was the head of two companies that were private military companies contract
yours, but basically mercenary outfits right, yeah, sand line international and allowed the name of this one executive outcomes. Right. I don't know what that means, yeah, but it sounds so shady yet as executive like you, can just see like their their company headquarters executive outcome, like one of those offices that you wandering to ask to use the bathroom, never leave. What is this place? You guys do here and escorted out when you wake up in the other part bed. Yet a lump on your head, and you have like ink on your. Yours? Nor so what man in March, two thousand for lead a group of mercenaries from South Africa, Anna guesses company to equatorial guinea, and they didn't make it he got picked up in
Why is a coup attempt? They were going to overthrow the government of equatorial guinea. The President Teodoro Obiang, nice agenda. They got picked up and held in. Apparently he was just recently pardon by President Obiang released in November and he's out and he is naming names. The story that he tells now he's back in great Britain is that Mark Thatcher. Sir Thatcher whose last name you might recognize his mom was the p m for awhile, nigh smart charm and, as some other people from around the world had an interest in the oil fields in equatorial guinea and hired, allegedly hired Simon Mandy RE overthrew the governments that they can move in and get these oil revenues are controlling oilfields yeah and he was condemned pretty round me
man was, but he was fully pardon by obeying last year. It was imprisoned for five and a half years, but he did had to shut down an executive outcomes, apparently right. Yeah answer in life: there there probably open up under another name Now- probably probably not, but if you think about things how people think of black water or Simon Man, knowing care that he was in prison for five and a half years right like in the reason wise, because these a soldier of fortune, these are mercenary in own people. Just don't think of very high later. If you don't get me name some of these other companies- yes, just as I thought it was kind of funny. Some of them. If I had a mercenary company, I don't know I would name it, but it would probably not be the olive group that was one of em yeah and triple canopy that's right! That's probably in military terms, What's another gonna, listen, good crawl, K, R, o L, L yell
it should read on Romania approached aims for something that the one they get there I think stands out. Above all, the rest is global risk strategies. Yeah, I can see it if you're going to Guatemala calling on global restrictive measures, can get us out. I love that outnumber actually any anti. I believe we should look better Jonas Salk checklists talk about another famous group of mercenaries that aren't necessarily can and looked down upon the french Foreign Legion. You know the guy with the white cap it kept. I belong with the with the do you remember in the eighties like when? Did you break dance dear dear Mamma, his hands, though they were like baseball kept within. They had the flap and back area there can a basin are not in your hand, at your eye, and what's up with that, who knows weird time for sure there was led, the way fashion forward all so these guys with the whitecaps right. Ass. The french Foreign Lauren Legion are technically,
you could tell the mercenaries, although they are they and eventually gain France citizenship through joining the formally by every three years, and they have to sign up for a five year term duty Vivier contract and the french Foreign Legion was established in eighteen, thirty one, because when the french Revolution, happened in July. Eighteen, thirty early, this open the floodgates for people, I guess seeking their fortune in France, ran newly free France from the French Republic, and so the French said. Well, you know what let's put all these ragamuffins in no good next to good use and they started the french Foreign Legion. So if you came in, if you want to become a frenchman- and I guess you and able bodied man- they said sure you can become for enhanced sign of five years- will put in the foreign legion the three years you can become a citizen after the fifth year. You can come back and do whatever you like, then many word, no good necks. Actually, an early days and still its yes, muddled, MIKE joining the circus right,
or you know. Sometimes we have some no good next that join up in the army eighteen because there you know, roll off Sir says he could move Foreign Rodya an army shape up and turn them into good citizen right awfully oil vengeance. Killers can. We talk more about the legionnaires. I think we should work while they they get, recruited and they get a proof of pre selection and means you get a little medical check up and what they call a quote confirmation of me. Evasion right. They want a measured using actually do want to do this right. You are aware that your signing up for five years to go beyond the military right and once you pass through that stage you go, to another set of like more thorough questioning check ups, and then you go to basic for fifteen weeks and little country town in the south of France, and at the end of that they this you to your. You know your comrades in your military life. They teach you French, ideally can speak.
And at the end of this unit. In the end, you get your copy blocked right, which is a goofy looking right at right, and it is good for consumers, and it is in a kind of stands out, is not practical in that there is a picture of a modern foreign Legion AIR France for Legion. I really hope he does his way like Bahrain, Cameo and all that, I think it's catholic, their dress, sure thing, but it's ok. So you have- on through basic training. You early Janeiro, now the apparently there's eight thousand of them at any given point in time. Right now they hail from a hundred and thirty six different countries. We arrange Lee, including France itself, has our no, I dont know will have to find a year. So the
the after you get through basic training. You you now legionella, they send you too. I guess one of eleven regiments all over the world, yeah had ivory coast, Afghanistan all over the place. Some places you know really want to be. I would imagine you want to get a chance. No other staff, were you? Ok, eighteen, thirty! on Josh. Since then, more than thirty five thousand legionnaires have been killed and combat right. It's a lot. I think part of the reason we mention the legionnaires are necessarily down upon, even though they are pretty much a mercenary group, because they they d, get paid. Nato they're not doing it. For I d ology right, but I think the fact that you sign up for five years. You can attain citizenship through this in your serving a specific nation kind, as a kind of a military tends to mean a while there, no more soldiers instead of contractors right. Let's talk about the contractors, their chuck yeah. These guys are typically
ex military or former police officers, the batter the better, like green brays. As he has dealt a force. This issue you want in european policy. Alex Simon man was a Ex essay s guy right, so the These deeds are brought in and they are paid. Six hundred to seven hundred dollars a day, sometimes up to a thousand dollars a day for their work, not bad substantial. But what we are saying earlier Is- and this is gonna funny as they typically dont get benefits which surprised me. I thought any company would want to get a benefit act together. I know, but no you can't get a break is in reality, risk either so you gotta pay for young benefits. You have to cover your own taxes and all that and how much is life insurance? They fear a soldier of fortune. I have no idea astronomical so at the end of the day, when you take out all the money for all those things and for you, no milk and sugar. There are probably not pay
pull up more than irregular military personnel right there, not maybe turnover. I think if, if you want to work for black waters of the can probably make a pretty decent amount of cash right there, some other things that private military companies, contractors do that aren't necessarily war based. There are actually kind of cool. There is a group that train guide to combat poachers yeah in the Congo right to prevent the extinction of things like the black rhino. That's pretty, Costa Rica, private security for corporations. Obviously, when De Beers is poking around Africa, Exxon and GDP or De Beers definitely needs the security their travelling around the country and hostile areas. They need the best of the best, unlike seldom guarding iris dignitaries later on cars! I, that kind of thing now and then a pair
Thirdly, they also are used in counter drug operations yet and realise that I didn't neither- I mean he D. I can't do it our near the point here, So, if a specially now and in the use of private military contractors really exploded in the nineties, they become, like you said so far, entrenched in our military there, there is almost no separate whom we become so dependent on yet, and they also don't necessarily engage exclusively in you. No gun toting missions, yeah like they can cook They did. The same company. Can consent cooks, drivers later all in all this stuff, that frees up our soldiers. Yet but there are some risk, some definite downsides, using mercenaries yeah. I would say that the one they stood out to me, the most, is what We want in a situation like war, is loyalty, above all else,
and when you're hiring a mercenary thereafter, the buck and they're, not necessarily from your country, seeking really count on that nationalism. Right I, the algae that motivates you to go in a kill here. That's that's a big issue outside there is actually a famous story from the fourteenth century about the Elmo Governess, our Mcgovern. Let's get the how you I've no more diverse irish frontiersmen. Right, some byzantine leaders hired these guys to defend Byzantium against the Turks yeah and they did successfully in and they turned down the Byzantine and basically just wallop them did a what number number six, a number six on them for the next two year here. So I did mark out the well yeah here the very people you hired to defend you can say you know what let some Cisco hadn't take everything you got afterward you know, it's what's requiring a hitman,
really really trained. Former military hitman there is also the if you're in a military detachment standing military the tests. We were right: political army there's a lot of, like you, said, loyalty to state. But there's also a lot of interpersonal loyalty right among soldiers, that doesn't necessarily happen with them with mercenaries yeah. So there can be a communication breakdown they're, not sharing intelligence, that kind Imagine they look out for each other and that's about it right and whoever probably there are hard to protect specifically rights, but all bets are off at the end of the day when you got a mercenary, it is, I think, that's pretty much the key the way here, Jack, that's her off all bets are off. I mean you hire Maria, the new body. That would that that's in this in the fine print the assert when you write that initial contract chuck, we talked about this article three we covered most of it, but there's a bunch more information,
we didn't get in this fine article by William Harris and if you want to learn more about mercenaries, is take that word into the handy search bar how stuff works, dot com, which leads us, of course, to listener male. Yes, Josh I'm gonna call this one from Estonia from Boston to simple and others about a near death experience week. We got a few. These belike on his justice near podcast on India Yes, you can tell from the subject I had one that I find interesting. I had one himself I can't remember that my mom told me when I set about it at the time, was three years old and was sick in the hospital I can remember why now, but my ones were most solid, not a good way to be born. Progress is a grievance. Your buddy, Suddenly she flat line- and she lived and she woke up her mom said she had a dream.
Girl had a dream. I was standing at the entrance to the hospital Ruby Gillis, school bus pulled up, there's no driver and when I try to get on ass. A little ball girl about a year older than me told me. I could not get on as for those two young, just I had no idea what even a school bus was at this point, because I've been living in England, so that is my near death experience He tried to board sounds like a bus to Heaven and the little gatekeeper said you're too young you're, not ready to go back back. So look or a bald school girls. Yet I can you know you're dead when you encounter that's on it for things like every dig it alot of pretty cool male sex. Everybody said in shared their near death experience with us somewhere just off the charts. Chile. Indeed, If you have any kind of story you want to share with chapter I, if you are a soldier of fortune, somebody for higher
If you are a line cook chain restaurant we want to hear from you, send us an email to stuff. Podcast housetop works, dot, com more on this and thousands of other topics. Housetop workshop com, what more upwards check out our blogs on the house of works that come homepage brought to buy the reinvented two thousand twelve Camry? It's ready or you text, will be here before you know it everybody but relax because H in our black, you're, one stop tack shop, their tax pressure experts, certified and train and eighteen are black, has up front transparent pricing, which means you know the price before you begin no surprises and with offices open early and late, it's easy to walk in, make an appointment or just drop off your documents. Do your taxes
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Transcript generated on 2020-01-28.