• Soldier of Fortune magazine frequently has stories on wars, and has a note about “opportunities for mercenaries”, but often continues on to say that mercenaries are illegal under the UN or NATO or Dayton accord or something. (I don’t expect that too many of SOF’s readers are emloyed in the field; just that they like to read about it and imagine they are) I don’t seem to see that it matters much because every African war they have reported on mentioned mercenaries, while reports on few other wars do, except in the case of a soldier being paid to teach other people how to conduct various forms of mayhem (I dunno if this qualifies as mercenary work).
  • My question is, why are mercenaries illegal? What difference does it make? It seems a small distinction that a soldier is or isn’t a citizen of the country he/she is fighting on the behalf of. It would seem a risky proposition for the country that hires mercs, because they wouldn’t have the patriotic investment of a typical soldier, and might turn and run at a critical point or when things looked particularly bad. And anyway, it certainly isn’t a prestigious occupation. African soldiers tend to be a scruffy, undersupplied lot. When is the last time mercenary forces/soldiers had any influence on a major war? - MC

My Collins dictionary defines mercenary as “a man hired to fight for a foreign army”, which is what the French Foreign Legion is, so it doesn’t seem to be illegal. Perhaps SoF put in the disclaimer to try and protect itself from accusations of running ads for hired killers as opposed to mercenaries, as I can imagine there there are situations where the line between the two gets kind of blurry.

It only hurts when I laugh.

I believe that part of the citizenship oath that is given upon natualization in the USA is that you swear not to serve in the armed forces of a foreign power.

I’m sure this rule is selectively enforced. A naturalized citizen who serves a stint in the French Foreign Legion or the Israli Army probably has less chance of having their citizenship revoked than someone who serves in the Cuban Air Force or the Hizballah.