Memo to mercenaries in Africa

Memo to mercenaries in Africa
Memo to mercenaries in Africa
Memo to mercenaries in Africa

Quite an interesting text - a memo to Americans who are going to participate in African wars as a mercenary. The text does not have a specific author (besides, it is given in some abbreviation) - but it was compiled on the basis of materials and regulations, on the basis of which the 5th and 6th battalions of Michael Hoare in the Congo, the Death Battalions of Rolf Steiner in Biafra once operated and several other divisions. Compiled and rendered in a readable state by the editorial staff of Soldier Of Fortune magazine.

The funny thing is that the text as it is presented here appeared in the mid-1980s - i.e. just by the time the figure of the "white mercenary in Africa" ​​(which had already managed to firmly gain a foothold in the mass consciousness) practically disappeared. In general, contrary to popular myth, the age of the Giants Blancs was short-lived - just a decade, from the early 1960s to the first half of the 1970s. In the ten years that have passed since the "Year of Africa" ​​blacks have learned to fight, poorly or poorly, Africa has been flooded with weapons above the roof, and lone mercenaries have ceased to play any significant role. There were no mercenaries in Rhodesia in the 1970s: foreign volunteers and professional contract servicemen fought in the ranks of the republic's armed forces - on the same grounds as the citizens of the country. In the 1980s, the South African army fought in Angola, in whose ranks foreign volunteers also served - but they were also in the ranks, and lone thugs who imitated characters in books like "Wild Geese" were not tolerated there (not to mention the fact that they were not there). The odyssey of "Colonel Callan" in Angola in 1975 ended in failure - 13 mercenaries were taken prisoner, 9 were sentenced to various terms, and 4 received capital punishment. Michael Hoare's gamble to bayonet the government of the Seychelles in 1981 (despite the fact that a significant part of his team were former special forces) also ended in failure.

In general, the "private side of the war" after the end of the Border Conflict ("War in Angola 1966-1988") was taken over by companies and corporations: in Angola during the Second Civil War and in Sierra Leone, it was not white loners who fought, but companies - t.e. natural private armies. By that time, the heroic captain of the Katanga army Bruce Curry from the movie "Darkness under the Sun" was a gray-haired old and firmly entrenched in the category of "campfire tales."

However, there were a fair number of those wishing to fight in Africa - among the American public in the 1980s. In 99% of cases, these were, of course, chairborne warriors ("couch commandos"), and further heroic fantasies on Fridays did not go under the packaging of beer. In reality, there were very few of those who were ready to risk themselves in the African bush or the jungles of Central America - and they, as a rule, did not need this advice (because they knew many times more).

But if we consider all this from the point of view of the market, then there was a request. And since there is demand, then there must be supply. Actually here.

As a historical document - yes, this memo is curious. Not to mention, some of the tips and guidelines are still valid today.

Savannah does not forgive dancing with the devil.

(African proverb)

11 Commandos of Michael Hoare's 5th Battalion

1. Always keep your weapons in order - always. Lubricate constantly. Don't forget to check your ammo and magazines.

2. The soldier always works in pairs.

3.Check all the information - otherwise the consequences for your unit will be the most dire.

4. Be ready to act on orders at any second. Label all your gear and never move farther than arm's length from it.

5. Always take care of equipment - helicopters or cars. Help the mechanic or the pilot - no matter how much time and effort you have to spend on fixing or refueling.

6. Do not take unnecessary risks - estimate the chances in advance.

7. In battle, never force yourself or a comrade into a situation that you cannot control - or from which you cannot get out.

8. Be especially vigilant at dawn and dusk - as a rule, all armies are taught to attack at this time.

9. When you are in the bush for a long time, try to put yourself in the shoes of the enemy and mentally become him - know his tactics and impose your conditions on him, only then the victory will be yours.

10. Be decisive on the offensive, firm on the defensive.

11. The worst way to stand out is to walk bravely through someone else's grave.

Mercenary requirements

1. Age: 25 to 40 years old.

2. Compulsory knowledge of at least one foreign language: French, Arabic or some of the African dialects.

3. Neutrality to political issues.

4. Experience of active military service - at least 5 years; the interval between service and enrollment in mercenaries should not exceed 6 months.

5. Confirmed participation in at least two low-intensity conflicts.

6. Good physical shape and endurance.

7. It is desirable to have experience in skydiving - since in the vast majority of African countries, paratroopers, as a rule, are more often than others involved in combat operations.

8. Skills of handling small arms.

9. Experience as an instructor is highly desirable.

10. An officer or a career non-commissioned officer as a candidate is poorly suited - most of them have strong negative beliefs about working in Africa and, as a rule, are not able to cope with non-standard situations typical for African armies.

Requirements for a potential commando candidate

- the ability to cover very long distances with increased stress

- the ability to act in extreme climatic conditions for a long time.

- the ability to carry out an offensive from water, land and air.

- the ability to manage rowing, sailing and motor boats.

- the ability to drive a two- and four-wheeled vehicle, including heavy trucks.

- the ability to jump with a parachute, including night jumps, skydiving and diving.

- skills in handling night vision devices of various systems.

- the ability to read the map.

- the ability to read photographs and aerial reconnaissance data.

- ability to overcome mountain obstacles (descent and ascent with full equipment).

- knowledge of all types of small arms and the ability to use them; skills in handling melee weapons, including crossbows.

- the ability to place and retrieve land and underwater mines, as well as the skills of setting and removing surprise traps and the use of other anti-search means and methods.

Mercenary qualities - a memo to the recruiter

1. Intelligence. A soldier's basic intelligence that influences decision-making and order execution.

a. Low. Sluggish - he will carry out the order, but at the same time the order must be communicated to him in all the smallest details.

b. Average. Standard Nothing Outstanding Grunt.

c. High. A fighter who is able to assess the situation and make an appropriate decision.

d. Extremely high. A fighter who is able to instantly assess the situation and make an appropriate decision that will benefit both him and the unit. Able to survive in any situation.

2. Knowledge. The level of military training received by the fighter.

a. Civil.A stupid person who has no experience in military matters, but has knowledge of the unsightly sides of life.

b. General knowledge. Possesses the basic knowledge gained in the course of primary military training.

c. Additional knowledge. Possesses the basic knowledge gained in the course of primary military training. Able to train and take additional specialized commando courses. Squad leader candidate.

d. Advanced level. Possesses the basic knowledge gained in the course of primary military training, as well as specialized knowledge acquired in the course of subsequent courses. Able to teach the required skills and disciplines. Platoon / company commander candidate.

3. Mobility. A fighter's ability to pass physical tests.

a. Low. Familiar with the concepts of "forward", "backward", "right", "left". When moving along the bush, it resembles a pregnant female hippopotamus in elephant grass - however, it is distinguished by its endurance. Well worth hiring - but never put in the vanguard.

b. Average. Able to move along the bush in any direction, maintain the pace and fall over a distance of about three kilometers. Able to run / march without assistance.

c. High. Athlete. He is able to perform any physical exercise and not lose his rhythm - at the same time he is able to fulfill the assigned military task.

d. Very high. Moves at high speed, which does not affect the quality of the assigned tasks. There are no hard exercises / tasks for him.

4. Strength and endurance. The essential combination for any fighter.

a. Below the average. Average level of physical strength. With enough stamina - not a bad candidate for scouts / trackers, provided that he is able to walk light long distances.

b. Average level. The fighter is able to walk with full combat gear, keep the rhythm of the unit and carry additional cargo (wounded, explosives, etc.) over short distances.

c. Strong. The fighter is able to carry his own load and, if necessary, another one. Able to carry a machine gun and belts to it, or a light mortar and mines. The best combination of strength and endurance.

d. Very strong. Possesses exceptional strength. It is capable of carrying anti-tank mines and a large amount of explosives for a raid operation. The endurance is low, but this is compensated by the fact that the payload, as a rule, is quickly spent on operations.

5. Previous military service experience.

a. None. A civilian who is trying to enlist as a mercenary with no experience behind him. Hiring him is not worth it (unless he is a former police officer who was fired for careless handling of a weapon that resulted in the death of a suspect or a former high-level bodyguard). The last one to take, because he is not familiar with the basic conditions, skills, tasks, etc. If, nevertheless, he is hired, it is best to use him as a personal bodyguard (provided that he does not snore in the bush).

b. Standard. The fighter served in the armed forces of his country and took part in hostilities. The term from the date of dismissal exceeds five years.

c. An experienced fighter. The fighter served in the armed forces of his country, took part in hostilities, and also served in the armed forces of any of the African countries. Hiring for a period of one year or more - a short-term contract (two to three months) is undesirable, since in this case the likelihood of desertion increases.

d. An exceptional experience. Non-commissioned officers. He served in the armed forces of his country, took part in hostilities, and also served in an elite unit outside his country (French Foreign Legion, Spanish Legion, Israeli paratroopers, Rhodesian Light Infantry, SAS, Selous Scouts, parachute units of the South African Armed Forces, RDO South African Armed Forces, Portuguese Flechas, etc.).

6. Ability to survive.The ability to predict a clash, assess the combat situation and stay alive in battle.

a. Zero. The fighter runs forward in formation and stops firing only when everything is quiet.

b. Average. The fighter acts as part of a subunit, fires and advances.

c. Above the average. Able to sense danger and anticipate possible ambushes. Reacts instantly to danger and acts accordingly.

d. Exceptional. The fighter understands when a clash will occur, takes action even before the start of the battle and turns the tide of the battle in favor of the unit.

7. Specialization. The commando unit has its own specialization, but for long-term contracts it is best to hire fighters with general training. Typically, a commando consists of the following:

a. An ordinary soldier.

b. Deputy squad leader.

c. Part-commander.

d. Platoon / company commander - deputy unit commander.

e. Unit commander.

8. Order of preference of candidates. (Some will disagree with this list, but in general, the history of conflicts in Africa shows that the order below is correct).

a. British or Rhodesian CAC. Top-class specialists.

b. British Paratroopers, Royal Marines, Rhodesian Light Infantry, Selous Scouts.

c. Foreign Legion - 2 REP (Regimente Etrangere de Parachutistes) or Regimente Etrangere Coloniale.

d. West German paratroopers, French colonial paratroopers.

e. Spanish Legion, South African reconnaissance saboteurs or paratroopers.

f. American Marines, paratroopers, rangers, special forces.

g. Italian or Portuguese paratroopers.

h. Canadian or Israeli paratroopers.

i. Other regular parts.

9. Do not under any circumstances hire Arabs. It doesn't matter how good their recommendations are or how beautiful they are about themselves. The conflict between Arabs and Africans has become proverbial and quarrels between them happen at the most inopportune moment, leading to the worst result.

10. Try to hire multi-skill specialists.

What a mercenary candidate should keep in mind

1. When recruiting, be honest about your experiences - don't embellish or exaggerate. If during the operations you show your best side, it will only be a plus, both in terms of money and in your career.

2. Do exactly what you are paid for. Do exactly as much as is expected of you - no more, no less.

3. Take your time to make friends - it is better to have one or two and get closer to them gradually. It's great when you are in the same compartment - you can cover each other's backs.

4. Do not get involved in political, military or personal disputes - keep your opinion to yourself.

5. Count on yourself - always. If you need help - ask for it, but try to return the courtesy as soon as possible.

6. No one should take their word for it - not even your squad leader. Obey orders clearly, from and to - without zeal and without laziness.

7. Do not give bribes - neither military nor civilian. It is worth doing this once - and they will never get rid of you. If you need something, but you can only get it with the help of a bribe, most likely you do not need it.

8. Do not expand on your biography - except for the recruitment interview, and even then answer only specific questions. Sometimes, excessive information about you can turn against you - or be used as a means of blackmailing your relatives / friends.

9. Keep your things and equipment with you at all times. Do not lend them to anyone under any circumstances. You bought them for your money - you need them more.

10. Always have one verified address and send letters to it. If something happens, then through him it will be possible to transmit the news.

11. Always watch everyone; always learn - there are no know-it-alls in this world.

12. No alcohol until personal time.

13. No drugs. Point.

fourteen.Don't mess with gossips. If you hang out with them, you will become such yourself, and then - goodbye to work. Forever and ever.

15. Stay away from all sorts of intrigues - especially political ones. You are a soldier, not a spy.

16. Don't trust the locals, don't mess with them and don't rely on them. Be polite - that's all. If you want to be Mother Teresa, go to the Peace Corps.

17. Even if you fulfill all the requirements impeccably, there will still be people (in the headquarters or in the ranks) who will be unhappy with you and will not miss the chance to find fault. Spit on them and keep doing your job. They will still find someone to cling to - not you, so someone else.

18. Do not get involved in political assassinations - unless a clear and unambiguous order is given to do so during the operation. Better to spit and leave. It's not worth it. Too many variables have to be taken into account - and for this you need to have a brilliant mind. And if you have a brilliant mind, what are you doing in some godforsaken hole in the middle of the African bush?

19. Try to establish good relations with the local police. A souvenir handed over from time to time (not a bribe), especially if it is a deficit (and there is almost everything there) will pay off a hundredfold in the future in terms of the necessary information.

20. Never desert. If you feel that the task is beyond your strength, go to the commander, explain your doubts to him and in nine cases out of ten he will release you from the task (and from the contract too). If not, then bear with it: you were not driven to this express train.

21. Know your weapon like the back of your hand. The same applies to the enemy's weapons. Don't ever relax. Bush war veterans with a couple of decades of service behind them were killed by accidental gunshots. Do not think that you are cooler than them.

22. Keep a knife and a pistol on your body at all times. Don't forget where they are for a second. And do so that others do not know about them.

23. The same goes for money and a passport.

24. Never sign up for side quests without completing the original contract. The main thing is consistency. If you chase two hares, you won't catch a single one.

25. Always know exactly where your unit is going after receiving an order. Do not comfort yourself with the thought that, they say, you know. Make sure you know.

26. Take time to get used to the local food, local climate and local area. But do not drag out this time.

27. Between the exits to the operation, keep yourself clean.

28. Don't get carried away with local food. In general, try to eat as lightly as possible. Drink only water two weeks before surgery - exclude any alcohol.

29. Respect local customs and be courteous to elders. In rural areas, never try to connect with women - and in cities, too, do not try.

30. Not sure about grenades, mines and explosives - leave it to an expert to understand. Watch, but don't go in with your help. He gets paid for his work. You get paid for yours - guard it.

31. Never reveal all your talents and potential to the full - neither in front of colleagues, nor in front of commanders. Use 90% of your potential - use the remaining 10% only in exceptional cases.

32. Do not be upset if the operation did not go as planned. Not always lucky.

33. Even if you are tired and not on duty, go in for sports. Not only will it dispel boredom, but it also helps to maintain shape.

34. People are different. Know the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in your unit - it doesn't hurt anyway.

35. Try to remember who's name is - always helps, especially with the local population.

36. Remember about subordination. Be strictly formal in the service, polite outside the service. Familiarity leads to disrespect.

37. During briefings, speak briefly and to the point.

38. Pity and sympathy for Africa are foreign. Do not pay attention and do your job - you will survive this moment too. These emotions have killed more good guys in Africa than bullets and grenades.

39. If someone has let their unit down on operations - it's none of your business. The command will deal with it on its own.

Some general aspects

All work of a mercenary, in one way or another, falls into one of the following four categories:

- a mercenary joins the ranks of a foreign army;

- the mercenary is hired by the security service of a large international firm;

- the mercenary signs a private contract with his (or someone else's) government to carry out a secret mission;

- a mercenary joins the ranks of some shock group.

The first (and easiest) way is to join the regular armed forces of another state. But there are a number of obvious disadvantages here. Firstly, this is not actually mercenary activity - this is exactly what it says: "service in the armed forces." Foreign armies, as a rule, are not much different from the good old American army (which you, my friend, do not like so much). And they pay even less than ours. Service in a foreign army is good only because you can get to know another culture, gain some combat experience (if you're lucky) and understand if there are opportunities for a mercenary in this country.

As for the work in the Security Council of some large international company - these days it has become quite popular, since the world has turned into a continuous hot spot. Terrorists / gangsters take banks to the air, take company executives hostage, attack company transport, organize strikes, or, on the contrary, terrorize local workers, preventing them from working normally (and thus depriving the capitalist predators of their hard-earned dollars). Today, all large international corporations have their own security services, often small armies. They pay well, but not everyone is hired there. So your application for a job must be dry and professional - no hint of exploits a la James Bond. They need well-trained, serious and intelligent employees - and “employees” is the key word here.

You will be hired by the same bureaucracy that interviews candidates for secretarial positions - so it’s best to keep your head down and be modest at first. At least until the final interview with the Security Council chief. That's when you will be accepted into the state - then yes, you can hang yourself with shoulder holsters and start signing on the wall in one long line from the Uzi.

A private contract with your government (in the sense, the CIA or the NSA) or some other interesting government office (yes, we have such that you did not even suspect) to carry out a secret mission is always a double-edged sword (not to mention that this work is one of the most dangerous). Such contracts rarely happen - and this is their plus. Yes, even despite the fact that our government has invincible secret agents and generous intelligence budgets unknown to the general public - sometimes big bosses need someone who can do a rather delicate (read - "wet") job without frame anyone from the government. And then they carefully (and in the strictest secrecy) develop a completely insane operation, hire people for this purpose and give them the go-ahead. The good news is that this kind of work almost always gets paid. Bad news: if you get involved in this kind of activity, then the office will use you to the fullest until you catch a bullet somewhere.

Another drawback - the government usually collects a dossier on such people - without this, your candidacy will not even be considered. Is it worth it that Uncle Sam knew things about you that you wouldn't even admit to your best friend? In addition, our government can, out of the kindness of its soul, lend such people to another state apparatus - with all the ensuing consequences.

The last category is the replenishment of the ranks of someone's private army (group). Perhaps the most famous topic, but in terms of mercenary work - the most distant from reality. In the worst case, it is an outright dirty crime. At its best, it's a comedy of mistakes. Most often it is a combination of these two conditions.Private armies are organized by people who have the money (and the will) to enforce their decisions by force, or those who think they will make good money in the event of a successful coup / assault, etc.

The surest and fastest way to provide yourself with enemies and troubles is just to enter such a private shop. Very quickly you will find that not only your "legitimate" opponents will start hunting for you - but also the US Department of Justice. Uncle Sam has a good sense of humor: he believes that he alone has a monopoly on the armed forces, no matter large or small. But at those who are trying to play with him on this field, he looks very askance.

Private armies or "security forces" are often not mercenaries. These are ordinary gangsters in the service of the mafia, engaged exclusively in the war with other gangster gangs - and nothing more. Friendly advice: never sign up for any "contract" that involves working in the United States. Here it is not considered a covert operation - it is regarded as a banal crime. If you are tempted to cut down a couple of thousand dollars for a non-strenuous job like "plant a bomb in that guy's car", then perhaps you should think - what do you really want? In addition, other guys in expensive suits, upset by this course of events, will definitely send someone (maybe even me) to say hello to you.

No, of course, there are real, not fictional, covert operations - raids to rescue someone outside the country or raids aimed at eliminating someone. They are funded from undisclosed funds and commanded by people with experience in real combat. In principle, such things should have been dealt with by the government - but, as usual, it lacks firmness in the knees. So think for yourself.

Policy issues

Admit it, just be honest - did you have breakfast for an hour yesterday with some PLO militant, or maybe you discussed the horrors of democracy with someone from the Eastern Bloc at lunch?

What you said? Of course not?

Then, buddy, you better stay at home and don't even think about going somewhere. Because, mom, apple pie and native Oklahoma are one thing, but overseas is completely different. Foreigners (even those you naively think are friendly to us) have an amazing way of expressing opinions that are incredibly different from American ones on world politics. And most of the foreigners, oddly enough, hate the United States - for various reasons.

The first round, maybe you will win - but if you constantly attract attention to yourself with your ignorance, then your employer is unlikely to like it. Yes, yes, ignorance, I did not make a reservation.

These same foreigners have their own, different from yours, opinions on various world problems, because, unlike you, they live side by side with these problems. Even if you read the local newspaper every day and don't miss a single newscast, at best you are being fed a heavily edited and heavily Americanized version of what happened somewhere out there. Incidentally, the point is not about censorship, but about money. Editors on TV and in newspapers every day deal with a huge amount of material - and every day they solve questions from the series: what of this can be sold to the American public and in what form it can be clothed so that the silent majority can eat and digest it. Nuff said.

Maybe you hate any races or nationalities? In this case, think that you will have to live in the same tent with (here we enter the "favorite" nationality), and sometimes your life will depend on this (insert any offensive term).

The problem with other countries is that they are inhabited by foreigners. These natives are simple and rude people, they (surprisingly) speak only in their incomprehensible dialect.Pretty soon you will find that no matter how loudly or slowly you try to explain something to them in English, they still won't understand.

If you are one of those who learn quickly, then perhaps you will like communication in a foreign language. After all, there is a certain beauty in teaching a machine gunner to swear in Shakespeare's language - and trying to remember what exactly "nih-te" means in their damn language - "shoot them" or "shoot me".


Tell me, are you not one of those who send back ordered food for an hour, just because you found a couple of hairs of rat hair in it? If so, what do you say when you are served a whole rat? There are very few McDonald's in the Congo - and even fewer in the Rub al-Khali desert. Food hygiene is a rather speculative concept in South America or North Africa (even in the most decent places). But the lack of cleanliness is, in fact, not the main thing. The problem is those strange things that locals think are food.

American dry rations do not exist in foreign armies. The soldiers live on grazing - at best, they eat canned food, the labels on which you will never read in your life. You'd better not ask about the contents of these canned foods.

Other helpful tips

One of the conditions for recruiting is personal presence. Those. you need to come to them (to those for whom you will work) - often it is on the other side of the world.

Money (for which, in fact, this whole story is being started) brings with it a lot of problems. Until now, there are naive people who are sure that at the end of the work they will be given a check, which they will cash in the nearest bank. Oh well.

At home, a dollar is a dollar and a dime is a dime. But in all sorts of Southern Wilderness local banknotes are more reminiscent of money for the game "Monopoly" and besides, their rate changes every week. From a series of possible surprises: you will be paid with local candy wrappers, and after you receive the final payment, you will find out that they will never be exchanged for normal money.

In addition, there are also taxes. The local government may want to withhold tax from you, and it may not - but the American government will deduct the tax from you anyway. If you dare to secretly bring money home, then an interesting discovery awaits you: it turns out that the most vigilant and effective government structure is the Internal Revenue Service, where the CIA and the FBI are. Anything that crosses the borders of the country and at the same time has at least some value will not pass by its unsleeping eye - especially if these values ​​come from somewhere in the wilderness.

About the work

The work of a mercenary has its significant disadvantages - and one of them is the possible deprivation of American citizenship. It is written in small print in your passport that under certain circumstances, citizenship can be lost - so, perhaps, this issue should be studied in advance, especially if you are going to swear allegiance to another flag.

The truth is, Uncle Sam usually turns a blind eye to American mercenaries and their citizenship. People who have lost their citizenship for this reason over the past half century can be counted on the fingers of their left hand … but in recent years, a problem has arisen. Congress has finally noticed that the number of Americans working abroad as unofficial "military advisers" has somehow increased dramatically - and, believing that this is contrary to the principles of American foreign policy (foreign policy? What are they about?) which will take drastic measures. But, given the effectiveness of this body and the speed of the senators' work, we see no particular cause for concern in the next five to ten years.

In fact, that's all. We have sorted out the main questions. There is only one left - but a rather substantial one.What is more important to you - a sense of humor or self-esteem? Because in this business there is no dignity at all - and do not expect that they will play with you according to gentleman's rules.

Mercenaries exist because there is a need for them - but there are pitfalls here too.

Most people assume (if they think about it at all) that mercenaries are those who replace regular soldiers, or are additions to existing formations. From a purely formal point of view, this is a fact. But this fact obscures the unsightly truth.

Mercenary soldiers are the only way out for a government that is unwilling or unable to fulfill its military responsibilities. It often happens that the soldiers and officers of the regular armed forces do not have sufficient training to carry out a particular operation; or find it impossible to fulfill it for reasons of a religious or moral nature; or cannot complete the task for political reasons; or simply by virtue of de facto restrictions (even if they have sufficient training).

A quick glance into history shows that the first mercenaries were hired not by governments, but by private citizens - for protection, conquest, or actually as soldiers, since there were no armies in the current sense of the word at that time. Then, with the help of hired soldiers, it was possible to conquer or defend an entire country - or to strengthen your army with a couple of regiments (if the treasury allowed). This is where the definition of "mercenary" came from, which we still use today.

Over time, the art of war became more complex, division and specialization appeared. The need for large mercenary formations disappeared - the governments realized that it was much easier and cheaper to drive dumb peasants into the army.

But specialization brought other changes as well. There was a need for people with certain skills - and now high-quality professionals could sell their skills to the state militias in need of them. So the mercenary from just a fighter for hire gradually turned into a technical specialist. And if before that mercenaries, as a rule, were hired in groups, now such a professional became an independent valuable unit and could already set his own conditions.

What, in general, is happening now. A mercenary is a professional specialist, acting alone or with a small group. Of course, he is capable of commanding units and subunits, but, as a rule, he acts as an adviser or instructor (naturally, we are talking about a highly qualified specialist, and not about a typical "Portuguese" who cannot read or write and for the sake of a couple of good boot will shoot anyone).

It turns out that a mercenary is a high-class military manager who is invited so that he can significantly improve the quality of his employer's army. But not only.

Today, a mercenary is almost the only way out for a country that wants to do a certain job, but cannot do it due to certain restrictions imposed on its armed forces. Let's take the United States as an example - but in principle this is true almost for the whole world.

The United States today has a military and government bureaucracy of incredible power and unimaginable proportions. But - the bureaucracy is not looking for ways to do anything. She looks for reasons not to.

This means that we have spies who cannot and cannot spy, soldiers who cannot and cannot fight, and at the same time there are serious punishments for those who want to do something on their own initiative in the interests of the United States.

The military and government bureaucracy is engaged in saber-rattling - i.e. buys high-tech and incredibly expensive tanks, missiles, aircraft and says that this is enough.At the same time, the soldiers are not able to maintain this equipment; corrupt suppliers fail to make convenient, practical and efficient equipment / weapons / gear; and the rank and file are made up of people who are not allowed to either proceed to the operation or complete it.

The raid on the Son-Tay POW camp (which was empty when the assault team arrived) and the still-classified failure of Desert 1 in Iran are two of the clearest examples of how the bureaucracy is capable of special operations.

And then a mercenary enters the scene.

Is the US government using mercenaries? But how!

When even the thickest-skinned bureaucrat suddenly begins to tingle in sensitive places - since his personal position depends on the result of the work performed - then the government recognizes that it (for one reason or another) is not able to fulfill this task. Sometimes it makes it so that some other country does all the work for it - as a rule, a small but sane one, which is not yet able to establish our system of irresponsibility and mismanagement. With their raids, operations and invasions, Israel, Rhodesia and South Africa have pursued a policy of real, not declared, US interests over the past ten years.

But even if our allies do not want to or cannot, then who will pull the trigger?

Right. Mercenary. There are two ways that the United States uses to "support" mercenary activities:

1. Ignoring - so that the operation goes on by itself.

2. Assistance in the implementation of the operation.

Ignoring the operation (usually this means that the operation is funded or controlled by the closest US ally and is in the interests of both countries), the US government is in fact tacitly blessing it and allowing it to go its own way. This is the favorite mode of action for the American bureaucracy.

Assisting in implementation is a completely different calico. At the very thought of this, the bureaucrat is horrified. Help means "interference" - and Commandment Number One for a bureaucrat is "Never interfere with anything." In 100 cases out of 100, the state structure prefers the option "nothing happens and everything goes without consequences" to the option "an attempt with a possible option of failure".

For the US government to intervene in something - oh, it must be something that has already risen to its full height above the horizon and obscured half the sky. Then even the most short-sighted and narrow-minded official can notice it.

It often happens that "assistance from the state" in reality means "control by the state". As soon as control arises on the part of the state, it is almost always a guarantee that the operation will either be curtailed or failed. The reason is simple. To insure against all possible problems (well, for example, God forbid, someone will be outraged by the fact of crossing the state border) and to ensure success (difficulties with planning, with the military presence of US Armed Forces personnel), the operation is detailed at meetings down to micron aspects - and accordingly dies in the bud. The "aid" of the state slows down the entire course of events, puts an end to improvisation and dooms even the simplest operation to an almost guaranteed failure.

Most of the qualified mercenaries are ex-military, who are well aware of the cost of "aid" from the state and do not risk, even in theory, getting involved in such difficulties.

The Neutrality Act is directed against mercenaries. It states that no one can conduct a military operation "not officially sanctioned by the authorities" from the United States on pain of arrest and imprisonment. The government can sometimes pretend that this law has been forgotten - but more often it is still applied. So for any mercenary operation that is planned and carried out from the territory of the United States, this law is the essence of a punishing sword.

The official commando units existing in the structure of the US armed forces are intended rather so that, on occasion, the government can say: "Look, but we also have such units that are capable of much." But that's all.

This does not mean at all that in these elite units there are wahlaks or cowards - or that they are not capable of anything at all. These fighters are top-class professionals, but they are obliged to obey the decisions of crafty politicians who are only interested in their careers, or cowardly bureaucrats who, in principle, are unable to make a responsible decision. In such conditions, the good parts gradually fizzle out - and the professionals leave them with bitterness.

Some legal aspects

The internationally accepted definition of the term "mercenary" appeared in 1977. This definition is accepted by the United States and other countries. This is what is said in Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, concerning the protection of victims of international armed conflicts.

Article 47. Mercenaries

1. A mercenary is not eligible for combatant or prisoner of war status.

2. A mercenary is any person who:

a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;

b) actually takes a direct part in hostilities;

(c) takes part in hostilities, motivated primarily by a desire for personal gain, and who is actually promised by a party, or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material remuneration substantially in excess of the remuneration promised or paid to combatants of the same rank and function, members of the armed forces of a given party;

d) is neither a citizen of a party to the conflict nor a resident of the territory controlled by a party to the conflict;

e) is not a member of the armed forces of a party to the conflict; and

f) is not sent by a State that is not a party to the conflict to carry out official duties as a member of its armed forces.

In fact, if a person taking part in the conflict does not fall under the status of a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention, then he can still be considered a member of an irregular armed formation. Provided that the following requirements apply, such person is protected by the Convention:

1. Irregular armed forces have at the head a person who is responsible for his subordinates;

2. They have a definite and distinctly visible distinctive mark from a distance;

3. They carry weapons openly;

4. They observe in their actions the laws and customs of war.

According to international law, any national government, regardless of whether it has signed the Geneva Convention or not, is obliged to comply with the provisions of the Convention - since they are the basic rule of law for a civilized society. The defendants in the 1976 Angolan trial were not punished for their specific offenses of an illegal nature (any employee of any armed forces can be convicted of war crimes), but simply for their status in that armed conflict. International appeals for clemency had no effect. Daniel Gerhart and three other mercenaries were shot on June 10, 1976, and nine more defendants were sentenced to long prison terms. On the day the sentence was carried out, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said:

“No one can forbid a person to lead his chosen lifestyle - however, a professional in his field must not only have the necessary skills, but also be well versed in the political and legal aspects associated with him.Today, more than ever, a professional must rely only on himself, his skills and his training - so as not to get into trouble. Before going into battle, he must find out everything that is possible about the situation in which he intends to find himself."

However, any professional, if he is guided by ideological motives in his actions, can bypass the "mercenary" part of the Protocol - if he expresses a desire to join the ranks of the regular armed formations of the side to which he intends to offer his assistance. So, in the summer of the same 1976, the civilian government of Rhodesia announced that all American citizens who are actually directly involved in counter-terrorist operations are full members of the legitimate armed formations established by the government of Rhodesia.

All Americans who agreed to sign a contract to serve in the Rhodesian Armed Forces did so for ideological reasons - and no American received more pay than his Rhodesian counterpart, who is in equal rank and in an equal position. (Although members of the Special Air Service or Selous Scouts received additional statutory cash bonuses for killed terrorists). This aspect alone draws a clear line between combatant and mercenary. At the same time, we note that those of the Americans who signed private contracts to work to protect farms or worked in other civilian private security structures were not full members of the armed forces of the state - and received monetary rewards from individuals or corporations. In some cases, they worked together with the police structures, and sometimes on their own initiative.

Further. Article 75 of Additional Protocol I talks about basic guarantees.

1. To the extent that they are affected by the situation referred to in Article 1 of this Protocol, persons in the power of a Party to the conflict who are not receiving more favorable treatment under the Conventions or under this Protocol, for all circumstances are treated humanely and they, at a minimum, enjoy the protection provided for in this article, without any adverse distinction based on race, color, sex, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property status, birth or other status, or on any other similar criteria. Each party must respect the identity, honor, beliefs and religious practices of all such persons.

2. The following actions are prohibited and will remain prohibited at any time and in any place, regardless of whether they are committed by civilian or military representatives:

a) violence against the life, health and physical or mental state of persons, in particular:

i) murder;

ii) torture of all kinds, whether physical or mental;

iii) corporal punishment; and

iv) injury;

b) abuse of human dignity, in particular, humiliating and insulting treatment, forced prostitution or any form of indecent assault;

c) taking hostages;

d) collective punishment; and

e) threats to do any of the above.

3. Any person arrested, detained or interned for acts related to an armed conflict must be promptly informed, in a language he understands, of the reasons for such measures. Except in cases of arrest or detention for criminal offenses, such persons must be released as soon as possible and in any event as soon as the circumstances justifying the arrest, detention or internment have ceased to exist.

4.A person convicted of a criminal offense related to an armed conflict may not be sentenced or punished in any way other than by an impartial and appropriately constituted court, complying with generally accepted principles of ordinary procedure, which include the following::

a) the procedure should provide that the accused is promptly informed of the details of the offense imputed to him and provide the accused before and during the trial with all necessary rights and remedies;

(b) No person can be convicted of an offense other than on the basis of personal criminal responsibility;

(c) No person may be charged or convicted of a criminal offense on the basis of any act or omission that did not constitute a criminal offense in accordance with the rules of national or international law that were applicable to that person at the time of the commission of such acts or omissions; likewise, no more severe penalty may be imposed than that which was imposed at the time the criminal offense was committed; if, after the commission of an offense, the law establishes a lighter punishment, then the operation of this law applies to this offender;

(d) Anyone charged with an offense shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty by law;

(e) Anyone charged with an offense has the right to be tried in his presence;

f) no person may be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt;

g) anyone charged with an offense has the right to question witnesses testifying against him or to require that these witnesses be questioned, and the right to summon and question witnesses in his favor under the same conditions as for witnesses, testifying against him;

(h) No person shall be prosecuted or punished by the same party for an offense for which, in accordance with the same law and judicial procedure, the person has already been sentenced to a final conviction or acquittal;

i) everyone who is prosecuted for an offense has the right to have the judgment pronounced publicly; and

(j) When sentencing, the convicted person must be informed of his right to appeal in court or otherwise, as well as the period during which he can exercise this right.

5. Women whose freedom is restricted for reasons related to the armed conflict are detained in premises separate from those for men. They are under the direct supervision of women. However, in cases where families are detained or interned, they are, whenever possible, accommodated in the same place and held as separate families.

6. Persons arrested, detained or interned for reasons related to an armed conflict shall enjoy the protection provided for in this article until their final release, repatriation or placement, even after the end of the armed conflict.

7. In order to avoid any doubt with regard to the prosecution and trial of persons accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity, the following principles apply:

(a) Persons accused of such crimes should be prosecuted and brought to justice in accordance with applicable international law; and

(b) any such persons who do not receive more favorable treatment under the Conventions or under this Protocol shall benefit from the treatment provided for in this article, regardless of whetherwhether or not the crimes they are charged with are serious violations of the Conventions or this Protocol.

Thus, depending on the situation, a person who signs a formal contract for service in the armed forces (ground forces, navy or air force) of a belligerent can count on the status of a legal combatant and be protected by the provisions of the Convention as a prisoner of war.

The question often arises: does an American citizen have the legal right to serve in the armed forces of another state? The answer to this question is rather confusing and we will not dare to overload our notes with sophisticated legal terminology, if, in short, both "yes" and "no". The general guidelines for joining a foreign service in the United States are found in Title 18, Chapter 45, of the United States Code. More precisely, paragraph 959 (a) explicitly states that "Anyone who is in the United States … enrolled in, or persuaded another to enter … the service of another state … as a soldier … is punishable by up to three years' imprisonment with a fine of up to $ 1000 or without it."

In addition, paragraph 1481 (a), Section 8, states that any citizen of the United States of America who enters the military service of another state, without the written permission of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, will be deprived of his citizenship.

Here, however, it should be noted that not so long ago the Supreme Court ruled that simply a law passed by Congress cannot deprive a person of American citizenship. A person can voluntarily renounce citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to foreign military forces - but the Supreme Court has stated that the very fact of joining a foreign army is a simple expression of will and it alone is not enough to deprive citizens of citizenship. Thus, despite popular belief, service as a mercenary or a member of the regular armed forces of another state does not automatically entail the loss of citizenship. With the exception of a few tentative attempts, the Justice Department is not yet eager to revoke the citizenship of American volunteers who have participated or are participating in foreign wars.

The Supreme Court ruled that the provision in Section 18 is unconstitutional - at least in its current interpretation. To the best of our knowledge, so far no American has been deprived of his citizenship under the paragraphs of this section just because he served in a foreign army. Note, however, that there are cases when American citizens renounced their citizenship and did not acquire it later.

After the Angolan process, most of the countries of black Africa became extremely sensitive to the topic of mercenarism. For example, the proposals put forward by Nigeria, in the original, generally deprived the mercenaries of any legal protection. Other Arab and African countries, together with the countries of the Eastern Bloc, at first warmly supported them - exactly until someone remembered about the Cuban and East German "advisers". Moreover, the Palestine Liberation Organization went out of its way, insisting that its fighters could under no circumstances be considered mercenaries. So the final definitions were the result of a compromise - and the United States quickly adopted these provisions in order to introduce subtle, at first glance, additions to other articles and paragraphs, in particular, to ensure the protection of the wounded and their immediate delivery to medical facilities, as well as the protection of medical aircraft. devices.

Thus, according to article 47 of the Protocol, the mercenary was deprived of the right to the status of a combatant or a prisoner of war.However, even if the party that took the mercenary prisoner did not apply the prisoner of war provisions to him, the mercenary could still count on humane treatment - since this was explicitly stated in Article 75: “To the extent that they are affected by the situation referred to in Article 1 of this Protocol, persons in the power of a Party to the conflict who are not more favorably treated under the Conventions or under this Protocol shall, in all circumstances, be treated humanely and enjoy, at a minimum, the protection provided for in of this article, without any unfavorable distinction based on race, color, sex, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, or on any other similar criteria."

However, these pompous and noble words are unlikely to be consolation to those who are not lucky enough to be captured in some God-forgotten point of the globe - and this is where the mercenaries mostly work.

Any military professional would agree that this Protocol is only respected by Western democracies. For some reason, many adventurers believe that mercenary activities look something like this: they sign a short-term contract to participate in an operation; this operation itself will be like a carefully enforced contract with pre-established rules of the game, where all parties will adhere to them flawlessly. Oh well. True, to put it mildly, it looks much more ugly and rude - for these dreamers, reality can turn into a monstrous shock.

Any captured soldier can be declared a mercenary - no matter that the authors who drew up the Protocol had something completely different in mind. In order for all signatories, to put it bluntly, to blow the same tune, the drafters of the Protocol used the alliance "and" in order to "sew" together the key definitions of the concept of "mercenary".

No matter how obvious this concept is, it is necessary to exclude double interpretation of all the spelled out points in general. If this is not done, then in theory any country can declare that one point is enough to declare a foreigner a mercenary - and, accordingly, deprive him of the status of a prisoner of war and the protection he is entitled to.

Your profession and your pursuit of luck is, of course, your own business, but before you decide to sign a contract or join the ranks of the mujahideen, guided solely by ideological motives, make sure to study and take into account all aspects, including yours internationally. - legal status. Only in this case your decision can be considered justified.

Almost all legal systems recognize the conjunctions "and" and "or" as unconditional connecting elements. Even if some nation or state does not recognize traditional systems of law (as, say, many revolutionary governments), then simply the laws of semantics will not allow misinterpretation of these grammatical particles. (Well, here I must add that if you fall into the hands of the rebels who simply hate you in fact, then all this verbal balancing act, alas, will not save you).

All of the above concerns one simple point - there are no international legal grounds for being denied legal protection as a full-fledged combatant. If some side in the conflict wants to execute a foreign soldier for getting involved in this conflict, then, if desired, she will, of course, do it. But in doing so, she will have to give a damn about the definitions written in the Convention and prepare for the loss of support from public opinion. Well, if this side feels in power, then, of course, it will go to any lengths to drive the foreigner into the framework that defines the concept of a mercenary.

It's not hard to guess why. War is a rather emotional matter and most civilized people, as a rule, need to convince themselves that they are howling not just with some abstract enemy, but with an obvious personification of evil spirits: with pagans, heretics, fascists, war criminals, child killers, rapists - and with mercenaries. It is clear that national leaders are making every effort to present their opponents in such an unattractive light - in this case, it is much easier to kill, hang and dismember.

The delegates to the diplomatic conference who drafted the provisions of the Convention understood that the belligerents tend to deprive the enemy of his human appearance. The presence of even a meager opportunity to brand a legal combatant as a "mercenary" could lead to massive deprivation of soldiers of their status (and, accordingly, protection) - and the consequences could be the most unpredictable. Therefore, the most sensible and cool of the delegates demanded that the term be as specific as possible.

Understandably, the interpretation of the concept of "mercenary" has varied and will vary from country to country and from war to war - below we have provided examples to show how the provisions of the Protocol may affect a foreigner captured in hostilities in which he participated as a mercenary …

1. Persons hired by states, corporations, rebel / guerrilla formations to invade another state for a period of several hours to several weeks with the aim of destroying property, destabilizing the situation or freeing someone.

They are mercenaries in the most literal sense of the term, in which it is spelled out in Article 47. As a rule, they are recruited abroad precisely in order to fight in an armed conflict or to create an armed conflict where it has not previously existed; they are in fact directly involved in hostilities; they participate in hostilities, guided mainly by the desire for personal gain; they are paid or promised material remuneration significantly in excess of the remuneration promised or paid to combatants of the same rank and functions who are part of the armed forces of the given party; they are not permanent residents of the territory into which they invade; they are not part of the armed forces of a party to the conflict; and they are not sent by another neutral state to carry out official duties as a member of its armed forces.

2. A person or group of persons hired to overthrow the government through a military coup.

Using the list given in paragraph 1, these soldiers can also be safely called mercenaries. There can be only one exception - if they can prove that they were guided not by personal gain, but solely by ideological motives. If not, then they will be considered mercenaries - with all that it implies. But proving that you were motivated by ideology, not reward, is usually incredibly difficult in such cases.

3. Persons acting as military specialists in partisan / insurgent formations in a foreign country - for example, Che Guevara in Bolivia or Bob Denard in Yemen.

In principle, they are also considered mercenaries - although the main question is whether a given guerrilla formation is an officially recognized belligerent / organization whose employees can legally be classified as combatants or prisoners of war. The new articles of the Protocol should theoretically clarify this issue, but in reality there is no clarity. It is clear that the overwhelming majority of governments are not eager to recognize their warring opponents as legitimate opponents.As a rule, they are branded "terrorists" - because by recognizing the legitimacy of armed opposition groups, the government thereby questions its own legitimacy. So neither an aboriginal nor a foreigner should count on the understanding of the opposing side in this matter and demand the status of a prisoner of war for themselves. The International Red Cross may recognize this guerrilla formation as legitimate (especially if the rebels are smart enough to declare themselves an anti-colonial or anti-imperialist movement), but only the weapons aimed at the captured guerrillas are in the hands of government soldiers, not the ICC. The Afghan mujahideen are a good example of anti-imperialist forces: the Red Cross considers them to be legitimate formations; Russians spit on this definition and destroy the mujahideen at the first opportunity.

If a guerrilla movement meets the criteria for a legally recognized national liberation movement, then members of that formation are considered legal combatants. This means that a foreigner working for UNITU in Angola, SWAPO in South West Africa, or for the mujahideen in Afghanistan should - and can - be considered a member of the regular armed forces. At least, everyone thinks so, except for the party that takes him prisoner. Members of the regular armed forces of a State that is not a party to the conflict, sent to carry out official duties as a member of its armed forces and accompanying irregulars cannot be considered mercenaries.

Rebel movements / formations that do not use anti-colonial / anti-imperialist slogans / demands in their struggle, as a rule, are not considered legitimate (unless the rebels will suddenly win). So foreigners fighting in El Salvador, in this case, are considered mercenaries.

4. Persons who work for the armed forces of a foreign state, but are not included in the personnel of the armed forces of that country.

If foreigners have been recruited abroad specifically to fight in an armed conflict, and are not soldiers or officers of the belligerent, then most likely they will be considered mercenaries. If they were invited as instructors, then the situation becomes more complicated. If, as instructors, they found themselves in the epicenter of an armed conflict and took a direct part in it, then in the event of capture they have a chance to achieve the status of a legal combatant - in the event that the party that captured them fails to prove that the foreigners were recruited specifically for in order to fight in a conflict. If they were recruited in order to train personnel and fight, then from the point of view of international law they are mercenaries. Again, in order to recognize them as mercenaries, the party capturing them must prove that their material remuneration significantly exceeds the remuneration paid to combatants of the same rank and function who are part of the armed forces of the other side.

5. Military advisers who are part of the armed forces of one state, officially sent by that state to work with the armed forces of another state or to work with guerrilla groups opposing a foreign government - as, for example, Russian military advisers in Syria, American military advisers in El Salvador or South African military advisers present in UNITA formations.

These people are not and cannot be considered mercenaries. They are a legal exception - persons who are officially members of the armed forces of any country cannot be recognized as mercenaries.

6.Persons enrolled in the personnel of the armed forces of any state as soldiers or officers, but at the same time being part of separate formations, for a certain period. A typical example is Michael Hoare's commando in the Congo in the 1960s.

If these separate formations are legally included in the general structure of the armed forces of the state and are officially considered as such, then the persons serving in these formations are not mercenaries. The personnel of the Hoare battalions fall under the status of legal combatants, with all the ensuing consequences.

7. Foreigners who have signed a formal contract to serve in the armed forces of the state as private / non-commissioned / officers - such as the Americans and the British in the armed forces of Rhodesia in the 1970s.

There are no problems here - they are full-fledged soldiers, and in no way mercenaries. Likewise, these were, say, the Americans who fought in the RAF in the First and Second World Wars even before the US officially entered the war - as well as the fighters of the Interbrigades in the Spanish Civil War. These are legal combatants protected by the appropriate status.

8. Servicemen of "foreign legions" - the French Legion Etrangere, the Spanish Legion, the Libyan Arab Legion, etc. formations that joined them to carry out regular service.

Again, they are under the protection of the law as full combatants who are part of the armed forces on a legal basis. The fact that this formation consists of foreigners does not change the case.

9. Formally (deliberately) "civilian" personnel engaged in the maintenance of military equipment - for example, specialists in charge of the condition of radars, missiles, aircraft, which are present in abundance in almost every country in the Third World.

Again, it all depends on a clear definition. If these specialists were hired specifically to maintain equipment, and not in order to fight in an armed conflict, then they cannot be classified as mercenaries. But this is a rather weak consolation; if captured, their status will be the same as that of captured civilians or mercenaries. A question of semantics. In the event of capture, foreign technical specialists cannot claim the status of a soldier. On the other hand, they cannot be considered real mercenaries. Article 75 obliges them to be treated humanely. In addition, civilians can look forward to slightly better treatment as described in Part IV of the Additional Protocol.

10. The entire personnel of any unit temporarily "borrowed" or specially hired to fight in an armed conflict, often for a higher material reward - such as 20 thousand l / s of the Cuban contingent in Angola or the 2nd Regiment of the Foreign Legion in Kolwezi and Chad.

These persons enjoy all the rights of a legal combatant and are not mercenaries - despite the fact that the country that provided this unit for this task is not officially at war; and despite the fact that, as an expeditionary force, these military personnel receive more material rewards.

11. Specially trained combatants of foreign origin who are officially part of the command structure and receive material remuneration significantly in excess of the remuneration paid to combatants of the same rank and function who are part of the armed forces of the other side. For example: pilots from Western countries in the service of some African states; Soviet pilots piloting Libyan fighters; British pilots who fought on the side of Nigeria in the Biafrian War in the late 1960s.

Again, these individuals are not mercenaries.Although it may seem that there is a violation of Article 47, in terms of significantly exceeding material remuneration, legally they are nevertheless protected by the very fact that the host country does not have the required qualifications. If local soldiers simply do not have skills, then the very possibility of comparing remuneration is absent. A pilot or a highly qualified technician can receive for their activities an amount many times higher than the salary of an ordinary soldier - and there will be no violation of the law in this. In addition, he is additionally protected by the status of a full-fledged combatant, since he is a member of the armed forces.

Just "being a mercenary" is not a crime. This is just a ruse that allows the party that captured the person in captivity to deprive him of his combatant status and equate him with the civilian population - and, accordingly, not treat him within the framework provided for by the Convention in such cases for military personnel. In any event, Article 75 of the Convention guarantees both the combatant and the non-combatant a fair trial - which is rarely the case in reality.

The Luanda show - in which Gerhard and three others were sentenced to death - is the rule rather than the exception in most countries. Practically none of the provisions of Article 75 were fulfilled at that court - and the defendants were executed for "mercenary". (True, one of those executed was duly charged with the murder of his subordinates - but it is still unclear whether this charge served as the basis for the death sentence.)

The Angolan example clearly shows that some states have signed this Convention solely for propaganda purposes - and have no intention of complying with the provisions set forth in it. The most recent examples are Iran and Iraq. Both countries have signed the Convention, but openly ignore its provisions regarding the humane treatment of prisoners. Western democracies, like some Asian countries (for example, Japan), tend to abide by the provisions of the Convention - at least those parts that they have ratified. If the conflict in which they are involved is also widely covered by the press, then the prisoners can count on minimal compliance with the requirements of the convention. An example is the recent Falklands conflict - where both sides tried to comply with the provisions of the Convention regarding prisoners of war.

Summing up. To be protected by the provisions of the Geneva Convention, it is best to formally join the armed forces and not get involved with underdeveloped countries. They do not so much observe the law as use it for the needs of the moment.

So the army, with its support and protection, is good, and it is best to be an official military adviser. But on the other hand, you can get tired of it very soon.

Practical advice

Upon arrival in an African country, you may be asked to fill out numerous forms - so it's best to keep the required passport details in mind. Do not pretend to be a journalist or documentary filmmaker - the attitude towards them is not always favorable. In a number of countries, it is necessary to declare the amount of foreign currency carried into the country - as well as mark the dates when the foreign currency was exchanged for local currency and keep checks. When leaving the country, these documents are transferred to the customs authorities. These things must be taken seriously, otherwise you may be accused of violating foreign exchange transactions. You shouldn't change the currency on the black market - the financial gain is minimal, and the punishment for this can be very serious. Try to change small amounts - for daily needs. Otherwise, you may end up with a heap of useless pieces of paper, which cannot be exchanged for normal currency even upon departure.Always keep your passport and money with you - pickpocketing in African countries is incredibly developed. It's a good idea to have a body belt and wear it under your underwear.

Another useful thing is a pocket local phrasebook. It's even better if you give yourself the trouble to memorize basic phrases and words in a foreign language in advance. Unfortunately, Americans are known in the world for their inability and unwillingness to know a second language. With the exception of people in Texas, California, or Florida, where Spanish is widely spoken, other Americans don't bother learning foreign dialects. If you plan to work in South America, then a basic knowledge of Spanish becomes a vital necessity. In the case of Africa, it is better to lean towards French and Portuguese - since the main conflicts take place in these regions.

Careful and long-term planning in Africa is pointless - the best way out is to throw out your watch and enjoy the unhurried pace of local life. "Time" for an African is not at all what "time" is for a Westerner. Inflexible plans often end in total failure.

When arriving in Africa, avoid taking photographs of airports, harbors, military personnel and anything that might be considered military targets - including bridges and railways. Before taking a picture of someone, always check if there are any objections - many Africans simply do not like to be photographed. In a number of countries, the authorities have a negative attitude towards those whom they consider "hippies" and "Western corruptionists." To avoid it, it is recommended to have a short, neat hairstyle and dress modestly. Women and young girls in Africa are generally safe - unless they are wearing offensively provocative clothing. Practically all countries in Africa have severe penalties for smoking marijuana and other drugs.

As in the West, any big city in Africa is not the safest place, so you should not walk there at night, especially in unfamiliar areas. On the other hand, you are much more likely to fall victim to hotel thieves than to be robbed on the street.

You can not wash, swim or drink from reservoirs with slow running water - bilharziasis, caused by larvae living in these reservoirs, is widespread in Africa. At the first sign of dysentery, consult a doctor immediately, as this disease is fraught with serious weakening of the body and dehydration, which in African conditions can lead to death. Avoid food that is prepared in advance and left on for a long time. In rural areas, try to always use water purification tablets when quenching your thirst. It is worth eating in establishments that look decent. But you should also not categorically refuse the local food that can be offered from the heart in the countryside - at least it is an interesting gastronomic experience.

The sun in Africa is extremely harsh - therefore, special attention must be paid not to burn in the first days. Also, do not forget about the loss of salt and sweating - accordingly, not only drink plenty of fluids, but also take salt. And do not crawl out unless absolutely necessary in the sun in the middle of the day.

It is advisable to have a first-aid kit with you - there are pharmacies and hospitals in cities, but in rural areas there may simply not be the most basic drugs. It is recommended that you get vaccinated against typhoid and tetanus in advance. If a region is known to be susceptible to malaria, then at least two weeks before arriving there, start taking antimalarial drugs. It is very useful to make a token (like a soldier's tag) on ​​which to knock out a blood type, allergic reactions to anything (if any) and other existing health problems.

Clothing for Africa requires little - and it is better if it is made of cotton.Long sleeved shirts and high socks are very useful for getting around the bush. A hat - such as a wide-brimmed hat - is a must to avoid sunburn.

Important: while traveling (on a plane, at the airport, etc.), all clothes should look as neutral as possible. Under no circumstances should you wear anything that even remotely resembles a military one. Check your clothes, papers, equipment again - if it looks like a military one, then take it away. Try to imagine yourself as an African customs officer closely inspecting your property at the arrival airport and ask yourself - does this and such look like military equipment? If so, give it up. Make sure you don't have any camouflage livery in your luggage. In most African countries, this is effectively a death sentence. In the best case, you will be enthusiastically beaten for at least a couple of weeks - and only after that they will scratch to call the consul. Remember that you - were, are and will remain the Filthy Pindos (even if your mother told you otherwise all her life).

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