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UK, global hub of private military industry

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A new report says Britain is the “mercenary kingpin” of global private military industry.

A new report says Britain is the “mercenary kingpin” of global private military industry which has been booming ever since the “war on terror” began 15 years ago.

The report by the charity War on Want based in Britain also noted that the UK multinational G4S is now the world’s largest private security company. Meanwhile, no fewer than 14 companies are based in Hereford, close to the headquarters of the SAS, from whose ranks at least 46 companies hire recruits.

“The huge increase in the number of private military and security companies, with contracts running into billions of pounds, signals the return of the “dogs of war era that followed the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Executive Director of War on Want, John Hilary.

According to the report, at the height of the occupation of Iraq, about 80 British companies operated in Iraq. There are now hundreds operating in areas of conflict around the world, bound only by a system of self-regulation.

The report also stated that in Libya, UK companies led the way after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. A message post in the early days after Gaddafi’s fall by the Security Contracting Network, a recruitment forum for the industry, said: “There will be an uptick of activity as foreign oil companies scramble to get back to Libya … follow the money, and find your next job.”

Their senior executives and board of the companies are dominated by former military officers.

War on Want said G4S secured a contract of up to £188m to provide security for the Basrah Gas Company and signed a five-year, £100m contract with the British embassy in Afghanistan last year.

Britain has signed up to an international code of conduct for “private security service providers”, laying down principles covering accountability to the law and human rights. However, it is a voluntary code of conduct.



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