Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


For our British and anglophile readers: How the hell does the UK still have Gurkha soldiers? Especially when this is still the model?

The soldiers are still selected from young men living in the hills of Nepal - with about 28,000 youths tackling the selection procedure for just over 200 places each year.
After the Gurkhas have served their time in the Army - a maximum of 30 years, and a minimum of 15 years to secure a pension - they are discharged back in Nepal.

What? The U.S. does something sort of similar, recruiting hopeful immigrants for military service, but at least the reward is U.S. citizenship. That's still kind of sick, but better than not citizenship in exchange for service, right?

I have the feeling I'm not really getting this. Someone explain.


  • At 9:20 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    The U.S., of course, also uses mercenaries in Iraq and elsewhere (sometimes calling them 'private military companies,' a kind of paramilitary force that does "security" and "support").

    That's probably worse than Gurkhas or the French Foreign Legion (which is basically the same as Gurkhas, right?).

  • At 10:35 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Does the U.S. hire mercenaries directly? I had thought they were subcontracted by Halliburton-like U.S. contractors.

  • At 10:47 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Am I the only one who imagines a giant pickle with a machine gun every time I read "Gurkha"?

    Anyhow, yeah, my understanding is that the U.S. uses devious methods to not put mercenaries on the books, which is why I wrote "uses mercenaries" rather than "hires" them. But the battle of Fallujah, for example, was triggered when some U.S. mercenaries were killed. Functionally, they are part of the military, right? Hm, time to check Wikipedia...

  • At 10:55 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    According to the British newspaper The Independent,

    An army of thousands of mercenaries has appeared in Iraq's major cities, many of them former British and American soldiers hired by the occupying Anglo-American authorities and by dozens of companies who fear for the lives of their employees.

    Many of the armed Britons are former SAS soldiers and heavily armed South Africans are also working for the occupation. "My people know how to use weapons and they're all SAS," said the British leader of one security team in southern Baghdad. "But there are people running around with guns now who are just cowboys. We always conceal our weapons, but these guys think they're in a Hollywood film."

    There are serious doubts even within the occupying power about America's choice to send Chilean mercenaries, many trained during General Pinochet's vicious dictatorship, to guard Baghdad airport. Many South Africans are in Iraq illegally--they are breaking new laws, passed by the government in Pretoria, to control South Africa's booming export of mercenaries. Many have been arrested on their return home because they are do not have the licence now required by private soldiers.

    Casualties among the mercenaries are not included in the regular body count put out by the occupation authorities, which may account for the persistent suspicion among Iraqis that the US is underestimating its figures of military dead and wounded. Some British experts claim that private policing is now the UK's biggest export to Iraq--a growth fueled by the surge in bomb attacks on coalition forces, aid agencies and UN buildings since the official end of the war in May last year.

  • At 11:04 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    And according to this newspaper, the Pentagon contractor Blackwater USA has ben hiring mercenaries from the Pinochet regime in Iraq to guard oil wells against attack by insurgents.

    The privatisation of security in Iraq is growing as the US seeks to reduce its commitment of troops. At the end of last year there were 10,000 hired security personnel in Iraq.


    The number of hired soldiers in Iraq is estimated to be in the thousands.

    Squads of Bosnians, Filipinos and Americans with special forces experience have been hired for tasks ranging from airport security to protecting Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

    Their salaries can be as high as $US1000 a day, the news agency AFP recently reported. Erwin, a 28-year-old former US army sergeant working in Iraq, told AFP: "This place is a goldmine. All you need is five years in the military and you come here and make a good bundle."

    So yes, it seems that it's the Pentagon contractors who do the actual hiring, but that's just an end-run around directly hiring (and overpaying) these freaks to do clearly military duties like protecting Paul Bremer.

  • At 6:21 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I will stipulate that our use of South African and ex-Pinochetist mercenaries is shitty. But I didn't really want to make this a "who's shittier, us or them" contest, especially if it scares people off of answering my actual question about the Gurkhas, about whom I am genuinely curious.

  • At 7:11 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Oh, sorry for not addressing your question more directly.

    It's an easy answer, really: They strike fear into our hearts.


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