Katanga Gendarmes

I recently saw this photograph and thought it might be of interest to both our older and younger readers alike.

Our older readers will recall, what many of us refer to today as, The Bush Wars in Africa. Without getting too deep down the rabbit hole, the world radically changed post WWII. Traditional “empires” with colonies were being disassembled, but a Capitalism vs Communism polarity were competing for influence. So many times different groups would be used as proxies in Cold War competition.

Balkin Troubles

Balkin Troubles

What many of our readers see today in the Middle East and South West Asia as “fake countries” coming apart has happened twice before since 1945. The previous incident was the breakup of Yugoslavia and the constant turmoil in the Balkans during the 1990’s.

And even before that, many of the European colonies were granted independence post WWII. This resulted in a never ending rash of Bush Wars in Africa that lasted well into the 1980’s. And Rhodesia wasn’t the only one. Just the most famous.

White Mercenaries with Katanga Gendarmes in 1960's Congo.

A Band of Brothers: “White Mercenaries” with Katanga Gendarmes in 1960’s Congo.

The photo above is directly related to the “Congo Crisis” of 1960. In it you will see “white mercenaries” serving with Katanga Gendarmes. All equipped with FAL’s. In the end, Katanga didn’t successfully break away from the Congo. Just another lost cause in a far away land.

PMC's in Iraq 2000's.

PMC’s in Iraq 2000’s.

But what the 1960-70’s bush wars did bring about is the modern idea of the “private military contractor”: PMCs. Or the vogue phrase of the day, “mercenary”. Many of these folks are still around. Cutting their teeth in Africa and the Balkans but living on with long careers even today. I personally know of one “bloke” who showed up in Iraq, working a logistics contract in the mid 2000’s.

Think about that. A contractor who had time in Africa, the Balkans and the GWOT. Amazing! It’s fun to reminisce about such things, if it was really behind us. But unfortunately it’s not. It’s just the Western Press doesn’t cover the story. Iraq is broken apart into 3 countries. Syria is in at least 3 if not 4 pieces. And as I type, DynCorp is landing troops in Yemen since Academi (Blackwater) had some serious losses and seems to be pulling out.

Within the next few months, you will see calls for Western militaries to “officially” move whole units into Libya. Which is broken up into at least 2, if not 3 parts. And while we are on the topic of Africa in 2016, let’s not forget the old Bush-War battleground of Rhodesia. Known today as Zimbabwe and ruled by the socialist hero Robert Mugabe. He’s 92 as of this writing and there are many people much smarter than me who worry about what happens in Rhodesia…cough..cough…I mean Zimbabwe when he’s gone?

The Bernie Sanders of Africa.

Robert Mugabe: The Bernie Sanders of Africa. Notice the jacket?

Will the socialists dream continue? Or will there be a power struggle and inevitable war? You get one guess.
“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

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  • Mikial

    Great article. I worked on three different contracts in Iraq for 2 1/2 years doing PSD, sensitive materials convoy escort (mostly weapons and medical equip being transferred from the USA to Iraqi security forces), and the real gem was running all the security for a $500M DoD reconstruction program contractor. During that time I worked with PMCs from all over the world . . . UK, US, Germany, a former Legionnaire (no he wasn’t French), South Africa, and Rhodesi . . er, Zimbabwe among other places. And we employed TCN PMCs from places like Nepal, Angola, Figi, and Argentina as static guards. There were former Royal Marines, USMC, US Army regular and SOCOM units, and so on. Guys who’d been in Mogadishu, The Falklands, Panama, Bosnia, Angola, Desert Storm and a host of other actions. And to a man, they were all great people who I would and did trust my life to on more than one occasion, and some of whom didn’t come back from Iraq.

    But the most interesting and the ones I became the closest friends with were the South African and former Rhodesian guys. And I still stay in touch with many of them. It was always interesting to search out the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee proceedings records for guys we knew because some of the things they’d done and been through read more like a fiction novel than most fiction novels.