Michael over at Staying Alive, who is a daily read for me, commented on an earlier post of mine and it got me thinking. Below is a response.
I am a soldier who got out. I was pretty good at my trade and I studied the history of warfare fairly extensively as part and parcel of my tradecraft. I am not an academic, but an interested amateur.
It has only been in the last couple of hundred years that the state has maintained a “monopoly” on the use of violence. Prior to that, mercenary companies provided the bulk of the punch in warfare between crowns.
The West and the current system of states is an outgrowth of the Peace of Westphalia and the system put in place to end the Thirty Years war. In a certain sense, the growth of the nation-state state can be traced to the desire of states to wrest control of violence from military contractors such as Albrecht Von Wallenstein.
Bear with me for the history lesson here. I will come to the point soon.
So mercenary companies were relegated to the fringes for quite a bit of time. But they started to peek their heads out about the same time that we started to realize that just maybe were going to run out of oil, that magic fluid that gives the nation states their power, (always remember that great line in Leon Uris’ book “Exodus", “the Kingdom of Heaven runs on righteousness, the kingdoms of earth run on oil”). I am not sure whether this is coincidence, correlation, or causality.
Anyway, the merc companies started coming back in the seventies. Some of the senior NCO’s who trained me were trying to sign on. They were sick of the post Vietnam VOLAR and the incredible problems that it was facing. When they couldn’t easily sign on (a lotta Brits in that market) they started their own companies. Over time these started getting richer and more powerful.
Then along came Cheney and then 9/11. In the 90’s, when he was Secdef Cheney set KBR off to integrate the merc companies into our war plan….Aaahhh privitization. Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and MPRI were there to serve. When 9/11 hit, they were there in a big way.
So, now that the history lesson is over, I am starting to think about the comment that Michael on one of my recent posts.
Small little groups of maybe 200 will start out in the country. They will grow as they produce the food to feed people. Food will come quickly as they will either produce or die. I liked the comment about folks not not bothered about shooting back!
There is a balance to be maintained. Beans, Bullets, and Band-aids. You gotta have all three to make it work. Just be ready to put it into play!
What I am concerned about here is that, while good in concept, these groups could quite easily (and perhaps inevitably) devolve into something quite different.
While their initial plan would be to go out and grow food (noble that), most of the folks would be city-types completely unused to the drudgery and hard labor involved in the simple phrase “produce the food”. They will go out with good intentions and a buttload of guns. When the reality of producing food in a oil-poor world slaps them around enough, they will reassess and figure out what has been figured out so many times before. That a coherent company (lets say around 200 people) who are heavily armed and hungry decide to eat, they usually can drum up something to eat.