Contractor Hired Former African Child Soldiers To Guard US Forces in Iraq

A defense contractor hired mercenaries from Africa for $16 a day to guard American bases in Iraq, with one of the company’s former directors saying no checks were made on whether those hired were former child soldiers.

The director of Aegis Defense Services between 2005 and 2015, said contractors recruited from countries such as Sierra Leone to reduce costs for the U.S. occupation in Iraq. He said none of the estimated 2,500 boys recruited from Sierra Leone were checked to see if they were former child soldiers who had been forced to fight in the country’s civil war.

They were considered merely cheaper options to fulfill contracts to defend US bases in Iraq, enabling Aegis to realize higher profits.

Aegis had contracts from the US government worth hundreds of millions of dollars to protect bases in Iraq. It originally employed UK, US and Nepalese mercenaries, but broadened its recruitment in 2011 to include Africans as a cost-cutting/profit raising measure.

I am saddened to say the use of children in this capacity in Iraq was an open secret. The guards at the forward operating base where I was located in 2009-2010 were obviously very, very young, often carrying weapons nearly their own height. They were kept isolated and segregated from the Americans so the two groups could not speak, ensuring the secret was nominally kept as everyone looked the other way.

That child soldiers were present in this capacity was (to my knowledge, first) mentioned in my 2011 book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (in the chapter titled “Tribes.”) Our military children happened to be from Uganda, not Sierra Leone, suggesting the practice was wide spread.

In some happy news, in 2010, the mercs guarding the US embassy in Baghdad were primarily from Peru, and appeared to be all adults.

BONUS: The recruitment of African mercenaries and, more specifically, former child soldiers, is the subject of a new documentary (video clip, below) by Mads Ellesoe, a Danish journalist who spent two years researching the subject.

THE CHILD SOLDIER'S NEW JOB TRAILER from Plus Pictures on Vimeo.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

5 thoughts on “Contractor Hired Former African Child Soldiers To Guard US Forces in Iraq”

  1. These organizations have blood on there hands obviously; there conscience being darkened there hearts shall feel the pain its time to have a watch dog with full and absolute authority to dismantle these legal terrorist organizations with judge jury execution protocols and hold any government accountable with no possibility of vito powers we need the power of God to fall on these devil’s with ten thousand of his saints.

  2. It time for us all to do our bit to dismantle and hinder American progressive destruction dynasties boycott there every move sale and or propaganda machines sabotage there everymove with the stealth of the CIA and or better create a order of opposition that cant be tracked or hindered because we are a way of believing and thinking no head no tale that cant be stoped just the righteous living for love and winning with it.

  3. The Peruvians may not be children but if I know anything about South American mercenaries (sadly, I do) then they’ve probably killed them and in the end isn’t that what really counts. (Sadly, it is.)

  4. They were not children when they were in Iraq. Not even close.

    Many of them were able to build houses and businesses in Uganda on the relatively large salaries they earned in Iraq.

    I’m not defending the Fiasco of Iraq, but calling these guards “child soldiers” is just dishonest.

  5. great idea, lets replace all the security in d.c. with former child soldier being paid minimum wage!

    im sure nothing could possibly go wrong.

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