I have seen a lot hype in the press and on social media networks about the modern-day mercenary. The mainstream media uses the term ‘mercenary’ to describe anyone other than the military or press in conflict zones.
I find this to be slightly irritating, because there have been many changes to the ways in which wars are fought today. In this day and age, we see private military contractors (PMCs), risk-management consultants, and the new trade of volunteer soldiers on the battlefield. Now, in some shape or form, all of these have a place in the modern conflict zone. PMCs are brought in to provide security, work as armed guards, provide close protection, and to train host-nation forces. The same applies to risk-management firms now, from what I can see, and this hardly means they should be branded with the title ‘mercenary.’
They are there providing security services to a client. It is no different from a security company here in the UK or U.S. providing security services to a client based in their home country. If not, then the security guard standing in my local shopping store is a mercenary, but from look of him I highly doubt that.
So why do we brand them with this “merc” tag like we did during the gold rush days of Iraq in 2003-2009? Back then, PMCs were brought in to fill a vacuum for the U.S. government, but even then, we’re not talking about direct operations. They were brought in to conduct security services for the government by providing things like close protection, static security guards, and convoy protection. All of these same services can be hired in the U.S. or the UK from a security provider.