March 19, 2008

BBC on mercenaries, great podcasts

Armies for Hire

Ways to Listen

Armies for Hire - Part Two

The Sharp End

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Soldier with gun The Dogs of Peace
Private military contractors in Iraq

Private military contractor holding a gun The Sharp End
Private military contractors in Afghanistan

First broadcast May 2007

Private military contractor holding a gun, and a tank in the background

Since the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been a staggering boom in the demand for civilian soldiers who carry arms for private companies.

In this two-part BBC World Service series, presenter Peter Snow moves with the men and women operating in conflict zones, shedding light into this notoriously secretive world, while also hearing how military experts now believe that these "legitimate" mercenaries are already an essential ingredient in world security in the 21st century.

We discover who they are, why they are needed, what they do, and who - if anyone - they are accountable to.

Part Two: The Sharp End

This second programme focuses on the work of private military contractors in Afghanistan.

With tasks ranging from the training of Afghan police to protecting missions, Armies for Hire investigates the major issue of accountability, the economic benefits, and the high death toll and human cost to those operating at the sharp end.

It also takes a look into how the huge demand for private military personnel after the fall of Baghdad lured many unsuitable and untrained contractors into the industry.

Series Producers: Kate Bland and Pat Gilbert (Just Radio).

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