Looking at the concept of mercenaries post TEOTWAWKI [mentioned in Ron’s recently posted letter], I’m not convinced there is a valid threat there.
There are a lot of myths floating around about Blackwater specifically. I have several friends on contract to them in various capacities from maintenance to pilot to executive protection.
The relevant facts are that they are highly trained, highly paid (up to $1000 a day, depending on assignment and location), held to high standards of qualification (must be honorably discharged veterans, no criminal background and with relevant skill sets) and do specifically fall under the UCMJ when contracted to the military or in association with the military (including executive protection details on State Dept missions in Iraq). I keep hearing these stories of beer-bellied yahoos who don’t answer to anyone, but I’ve yet to see anything to substantiate that apart from vague allegations in the press.
Obviously, if a government collapses, it will not be hiring troops in that price range unless it’s paying gold or foreign cash. Even if it could, convincing politicians that 20 out of country mercs are better than 100 local recruits is a long shot.
As to low-paid, second rate mercs, history is full of them. They tend to be more hassle to the paymaster than any enemy.
I can’t see what they’d be hired to do other than guard government installations or private facilities with the desire and the money. “We’re hiring you to go rough up the civilians” doesn’t seem either cost effective, worthwhile, or doable, as in small groups they’d be readily defeated by numbers. And if things are that bad, I won’t be going anywhere near a government facility.
The condottieri of the Middle Ages were specifically small bands with training and weapons equal to the small local forces they faced–enough to defeat a village or small town. Without lots of supplies, any modern equivalent would just be another gang of armed men. In this case, armed professionals who’d prefer to dig in and take control of an area, rather than be roving bands. It’s quite likely a few of them read survivalblog, and they’re hardly the enemy. If such groups existed, it would be worth allying with them to build a community. Nor would they be likely to pillage an area, as it means less resources in future.
It is possible, in case of a total collapse, that such would become feudal lords. However, that would last only as long as they maintained the good will of the locals and had ammunition. Modern systems of government are far more effective and efficient. – Michael Z. Williamson