Actual Most Powerful PRIVATE Militaries In The World (2020 Edition)

War… War never changes. And along with the unchanging practice of
war, comes the way in which it is practiced. For many nations around the world that means
the use of mercenary armies to achieve objectives that are too expensive, politically sensitive,
or secret for them to use regular military forces for. Mercenaries instead offer a much cheaper,
and more private alternative for a country looking for a solution for a particularly
troublesome problem. Why would a nation- even a modern one like
the US, Britain, or Russia- need mercenaries though? Well, for many nations the hiring of mercenary
forces is actually cheaper than either having a standing military of its own, or using its
own military forces to do the same job. Mercenaries typically come with a higher up-front
cost than regular military forces might- for instance, the average US soldier earns around
30k a year, while a mercenary with the same level of experience could earn as much as
$80-100k a year. In exchange for a higher up-front cost, a
nation can avoid all the hidden costs of actually deploying their own military force, things
such as training, transportation, supply, and possibly even life insurance. Those costs can add up significantly- for
instance the cost per flight hour for operating a C-17 can be around $20,000, so a twelve
hour flight to get two platoons of infantry to a combat zone can already run a bill of
$240,000. Mercenaries on the other hand are typically
responsible for footing their own transportation, supply, and training costs. Another big appeal to using mercenary forces
over conventional forces though is the plausible deniability involved in the use of mercenaries. Mercenaries aren’t just paid well to fight
well, they are paid well to keep secrets, and thus mercenaries can often be used to
wage conflicts that their host nation doesn’t want it known it is supporting. This is best exemplified by Russia who routinely
uses mercenaries in the Middle East, Africa, and Ukraine to push its own agenda while being
able to deny all involvement. For countries at war though, mercenaries have
another huge appeal: they help avoid war weariness from the population. This was a big draw for the US, who turned
to using mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to keep the total casualty counts
of the wars low on public media. Mercenary casualties after all are not publicly
reported. Mercenaries also however can act as supplemental
forces when needed, once more turning to the example of the US in its dual wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan. As was famously noted by an American general,
if the US truly wanted to fight both wars it would have to institute a national draft,
as the US military wasn’t big enough to fight both wars while keeping its national priority
of having enough forces available in reserve to fight a third war against a major power
and win. The US could have called in forces from overseas
to its middle east conflicts, but doing so would have jeopardized its ability to respond
to aggression from potential near-peer enemies such as Russia or China. Thus, instead of instituting a draft to fill
this shortfall, the US took to hiring mercenaries, and at one point nearly half of all military
forces in the region were mercenaries. Mercenaries have had a long and checkered
history, but thanks to the Cold War they were in serious decline around the world. With the political situation between the US
and the Soviet Union being so sensitive, neither side could afford a large group of mercenaries
causing an irrevocable provocation against the other side. Thus mercenary forces during the Cold War
remained largely the realm of third and second world nations fighting internal conflicts
or against their neighbors, while the US and Soviet Union used only smaller mercenary forces
in various proxy conflicts. Thanks to the global war on terror though,
the use of mercenary forces has skyrocketed. With a need for experienced warfighters, and
thousands of US and other NATO soldiers being discharged from their respective militaries
after serving their contracts, groups of former soldiers came together to form powerful mercenary
companies. These companies then simply hired themselves
back out to the US and its NATO allies, helping fill a serious manpower shortfall in the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today mercenaries are in use all over the
world, and many are worried that the continued use of mercenaries will allow nations to do
things it wouldn’t normally do thanks to public oversight of its military forces. Sadly, a new age of mercenaries may be upon
us, but who are the biggest players in this dangerous arena today? Academi Academi was originally known as Blackwater,
which was and still very much is the most controversial mercenary agency in the world. Founded by a former navy SEAL in 1997, Blackwater
originally hired itself out as instructors to help train military and law enforcement
organizations. When the US invaded Afghanistan, Blackwater
received its first contract from the US government to provide physical security to CIA bases
involved in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Eventually their contracts grew to include
the training of Iraq’s new army and police forces, as well as providing fire support
for coalition forces. Domestically, Blackwater was hired by the
US government and several private companies to protect their installations in the aftermath
of Hurricane Katrina. The company supported search and rescue efforts
of stranded civilians by dispatching a rescue team and a helicopter to assist free of charge. Overseas though Blackwater quickly grew a
reputation for being overly cruel and ruthless in its military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Numerous claims that Blackwater operatives
were either targeting civilians or not working to limit the collateral damage of their engagements
were made, and in 2007 the US government leveled charges against the company for the actions
of its employees in an incident where 14 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 20 wounded. Ultimately four Blackwater employees were
found guilty and convicted. One man was sentenced to life in prison, while
another three were given thirty year sentences. Shortly after the Nisour Square massacre,
Blackwater began the process of rebranding itself, eventually becoming Academi. Today Academi employs not just American mercenaries,
but men from all over the world, and is involved in various ongoing conflicts including the
fighting in Yemen. Defion Internacional A powerful mercenary company which most people
have never heard of, Defion Internacional has been involved in many of the 21st century’s
biggest conflicts. Based in Lima, Peru, the company is best known
for its employment of soldiers who come chiefly from second or third world nations, which
allows Defion to pay its mercenaries extremely low wages. For instance, while an American mercenary
agency may pay tens of thousands of dollars per contract, Defion created much public furor
against it when it was discovered that it was paying its mercenaries as little as $1,000
a month. Most of Defion’s contracts actually came from
the American private military company Triple Canopy, which outsourced security work within
Baghdad’s Green Zone to Defion. Interestingly though, defion Internacional
also employs many personnel outside of the security industry such as food handlers/preparers,
English teachers, insurance agents and doctors. Defion will often support foreign operations
by not just providing security forces for rear areas, but by also providing the cooking
and maintenance personnel that keep NATO bases working in conflict zones. Triple Canopy Merging with Academi to form Constellis Group,
Triple Canopy was for a long time one of the most elite private military companies on the
planet. Its founders were former US Army Special Forces
veterans, to include a number of Delta force operators, and their agents specialized in
not just providing physical security to facilities and VIPs, but in consulting with other agencies
to help shore up their physical and cyber defenses. For the time that it existed, Triple Canopy
may have been the most lethal private military force in the world. Its operatives were largely recruited from
the various US military special forces commands, to include US Army special forces, Rangers,
SEALs, Marine Special Operations Command and some federal law enforcement agencies. Professional warfighters at their core, Triple
Canopy employees operated under a strict code of ethics, and in 2007 the company fired two
employees for failing to report that their supervisor had fired on a civilian vehicle
while in Iraq. The supervisor was himself also fired. Many have seen the merger of former Blackwater
agency Academi and Triple Canopy as an attempt by Academi to repair its seriously tarnished
reputation. Wagner Group The Wagner Group is perhaps shrouded in more
controversy than even former Blackwater security, and the agency has been outright banned from
operating in several nations where NATO holds political sway. The true identity of the company is itself
a mystery, and foreign policy experts are unsure if Wagner Group is truly an independent
private military firm, or simply a secret extension of the Russian Ministry of Defense. What is known is that Wagner Group employees
are predominantly Russian, and have taken part in every conflict that Russia has a political
stake in. The Wagner Group is believed to be founded
by a former Russian special forces Lieutenant Colonel, Dmitry Valeryevich Utkin, serving
with Russian’s chief intelligence agency, the GRU. After his retirement he began working for
a Russian private security group which provided security personnel and training all over the
world. Utkin then joined a detachment of that security
group known as the Slavonic Corps, dispatched to protect Chinese oil company assets and
infrastructure in Syria. A disastrous ambush by ISIS personnel led
to the deaths of many Russian mercenaries, and the Slavonic Corps was disbanded. Utkin next showed up in Ukraine, fighting
on the side of the separatists and under the banner of The Wagner Group, a name allegedly
chosen for Utkin’s fondness for the Third Reich. Wagner Group employees tend to be former Russian
military personnel, though for a short time it operated a Serbian unit. Since 2015, The Wagner Group has shown up
in conflicts from the war in Ukraine to Syria, Madagascar, Sudan, and Venezuela to name a
few, and always in direct support of Russian political objectives. The group may best be remembered however for
an attack on an American special forces base in Syria in February of 2018. American intelligence confirmed the presence
of Wagner Group individuals leading an attack by Syrian forces on a base held by a platoon’s
worth of American special forces soldiers and their Kurdish allies. US forces held out against a force numbering
in the hundreds, killing many and suffering only a single wounded in return. After the battle various sources reported
that the Wagner Group had suffered anywhere between 15 to as many as 200 casualties at
the hands of the Americans, while the Russian government denied any knowledge of the incident. The secrecy surrounding the Wagner Group has
made a true count of casualties impossible to determine, and most troubling, a Russian
journalist investigating the issue was found in critical condition after having fallen
from his fifth floor balcony. He was in a coma for three days before dying
due to his injuries. Russian officials claim the man had committed
suicide, yet another three journalists investigating the actions of the Wagner Group in Africa
were ambushed by unknown gunmen and killed. In August 2019, a former Chechen commander
and veteran of the Second Chechen War was gunned down in Berlin by a Russian man on
a bicycle carrying a silenced pistol. The Russian was apprehended after being spotted
throwing a gun and a bicycle into a nearby river, though his identity could not be confirmed
as his travel documents and name given were all fake. An investigation by American and German journalists
discovered that the man was using a passport number linked to Russia’s Ministry of Internal
Affairs, and it is suspected that he too was a member of The Wagner Group. Conflict between major powers may be at a
historic low, yet while full-scale war seems less likely than ever, the use of mercenary
forces to fight smaller conflicts around the world is more popular than ever. This rise in mercenaries has led to many fears
of what the use of these rogue military forces could lead nations to do, and while some firms
such as Triple Canopy have solid reputations, others such as The Wagner Group and former
Blackwater have proven that they care little for international laws. While conventional military forces can be
kept accountable by the public, the actions of mercenaries often go unreported, and reporting
on them can sadly sometimes be dangerous as Russian reporters have often found. If you liked this video and learned anything
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