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British Company to Raise Private Battalion

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August 25, 2004

British Company to Raise Private Battalion

The Iraqi government's Army Transportation Command has awarded Aegis Defense Services of London a $293 million contract to raise a private battalion to provide armed protection for reconstruction projects in Iraq. The agreement charges retired Scots Guard Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Spicer with providing roughly 800 soldiers to act as 'close protection teams' for companies involved in oil, gas, and infrastructure development in Iraq.

Aegis Defence Services, which offers salaries up to three times that available in the British Army, is typical of the growing trend towards out-sourcing military services by nations. Some observers worry that an increased reliance on mercenary forces enriches those with political connections while eliminating avenues of accountability in the case of human rights abuses. Raising of military units by individuals at public expense has been a historical rule that was only broken by the nationalism leading up to the Second World War. Canada's own Lord Strathcona's Horse armoured regiment, which recently served in Afghanistan, began life as a cavalry regiment raised privately during the Boer War by businessman Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona. Others see the reliance on mercenaries as signifying the emergence of exceptions to the previously unquestioned global military dominance of the United States.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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