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"What is a mercenary?" Topic


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Comments or corrections?

Dn Jackson05 Jul 2018 10:28 p.m. PST

In a recent post about favorite mercenaries, Winston Smith wrote: "Hessians. That's what they're popularly called, but they really weren't. They were the usual State army, "recruited" by the usual means of coercion, conscription, not enough food, etc.
The army of the state was then rented out to the British."

Those of you who have read some of my barely coherent posts in the past know I have championed the view that, in the past, anyone who fought for money was considered a mercenary. No matter their allegiance or why they fought.

To support this view I've relied on the depiction of the Hessians as mercenaries and the quote of a Virginia militia officer at Harpers Ferry during the John Brown raid. When offered the chance to lead his men in the final attack on the fire house he responded that that job should be left to the mercenaries, referring to the US Marines, the only regular troops that were present.

My view was reinforced recently when I was reading the latest issue of Medieval Warfare which concentrates on Edward Longshanks Welsh wars. At one point he proposed to bring his feudal vassals to Wales for a longer period than their feudal obligations required. He proposed to pay them for their trouble. Going from memory because I don't have the magazine with me, but they refused in indignation because they were not mercenaries.

This does two things for me 1) it reinforces my view that, for a long time, ANYONE who soldiered for money was considered a mercenary and 2) I'm surprised how far back this view goes. I thought it was a construct of the colonists using, in the popular mind of the time, militia against the British.

So, ,time for an actual question…What constitutes a mercenary, and does a mercenary change with time?

foxweasel05 Jul 2018 11:43 p.m. PST

The UN has an actual definition that is used to define their use under the Law of Armed Conflict. Personally, I define them as anyone who fights for a country other than their own whilst being paid for it. This can lead to some good arguments and people getting quite upset, like on a mortar range at Salisbury plain when I accused a British Gurkha Captain of leading a mercenary band.

hurrahbro06 Jul 2018 1:40 a.m. PST

I belive that the UN gives exemptions to the Gurkha of the British and Indian armies as well as the Foreign Legion of France.
I'm not confident however, regards its position on those serving in the US army to obtain citizenship (something that is common).

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 2:33 a.m. PST

It seems IMHO that mercenaries do not have "a dog in the fight" except for money. There have been cases where mercenaries just wouldn't fight until paid or were paid off by the opposition (if I remember correctly). So someone paid for fighting for another country without any other incentive (ie: citizenship) would fit my definition.

42flanker06 Jul 2018 2:33 a.m. PST

Perhaps we ought to distinguish between the mercenary and the professional soldier.

It seems to me the negative image of a mercenary is an individual who will fight for anybody as long as there is pay and therefore is not only unreliable, since he is happy to change sides for a better offer, but thrives on conflict. Hence Albrecht Durer's image of Death as a gaunt man at arms, his sallet visor up and his lance over his shoulder.

picture

I believe this view grew up in 14th century Europe when a roving surplus of unemployed soldiery during the cycle of feudal and pseudo-crusades in the Iberian peninsula and eastern Europe had a destabilizing process in western Europe. There was the problem of the routiers in France and particularly in Italy where companies of condottieri ('contract troops') became power brokers between the city states; John Hawkwood and his White Company being particularly successful. The irony was that the condottieri would do everything to avoid fighting with each other. "Bad for beeziness." it was essentially a protection racket.

Already at that time monarchs and magnates paid knights for their services on campaign to cover their expenses as well as compensate for loss of horses. Most men in the landowning feudal elite were 'pro-am' soldiers trained from youth in horsemanship and weapon handling and were obliged, in theory, to serve in the king's host. While living off the proceeds of their estates all but the greatest men would also be paid for military service on a specific campaign as described above.

The yeomen who served the king of England as archers were also contracted for pay.

Professional soldiers also existed in the form of captains and serjeants retained by monarchs and magnates in peacetime to provided a ready force to meet eventualities. While skilled in fighting they did not rely on a state of war for their keep, Perhaps that is a significant distinction.

It's also worth noting that nation states as we understand them did not exist in this period. Military service was personal, whether contracted to a monarch, a lord or a captain, so the point about "fighting for a country other than your own" is not relevant and when it finally became so is an interesting question.

An interesting category is that of the Military Orders, whose members had taken religious vows which were nominally to protect the faithful of Christendom on pilgrimage to the Holy Land but their activites had quickly evolved into increasing Christian territory at the expense of the infidel. While sponsored by specific kingdoms, the Orders were essentially international organisations. The military monks were at best highly disciplined professional soldiers but of course since their vows included personal poverty they could not be considered mercenaries; an interesting contradiction especially since the Military Orders became among the richest international corporations in Christendom. Killing infidel, of course, wasn't an issue.

Personal logo Aurochs Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 2:52 a.m. PST

What about those men from occupied european countries who joined the SS.

foxweasel06 Jul 2018 3:27 a.m. PST

What about those men from occupied european countries who joined the SS.

I think that was ideological rather than for a regular pay packet or share of the spoils.

Rakkasan06 Jul 2018 3:47 a.m. PST

Members of the US military are considered members of the US military regardless of the status of their citizenship.

This applies to personnel actively recruited into the forces of other nations. So, for example, Pakistanis serving in a Middle Eastern country are given resident visas and wear the uniform of that country. They are for legal purposes considered members of that nation's military and are not considered mercenaries.

The exact legal status of the various defense contractors working overseas is not clear under US law let alone any international norms. They meet most if not all of the criteria for a mercenary. Are the field service representatives working on US military equipment for the US military mercenaries? What about the ones working on US-sourced equipment but on equipment owned by a foreign country? Does it matter if their contract is with the host nation or with US DOD under the US foreign military sales process?

cavcrazy06 Jul 2018 4:10 a.m. PST

The lawyer my ex wife hired.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 4:51 a.m. PST

I've heard it said that professional soldiers (regulars) are simply mercenaries in the service of their own country. Not sure if I believe that or not. OTOH, I truly dislike the current term for the US Army as being 'All Volunteer'. A volunteer, by definition, does something without being paid for it. So while no one forced them to serve, they are surely being paid. And while I have no doubt that much of their motivation is patriotic, very few of them would be willing to serve for no pay (or so I've been told by the honest ones). An interesting topic.

The Last Conformist06 Jul 2018 4:58 a.m. PST

Stephen Morillo's penned an article called "Mercenaries, Mamluks and Militia" about mercenaries and similar, which may be of interest to readers of this thread:

link

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 4:58 a.m. PST

Foxweasel brought up the issue of ideology. In their 1897 war with Turkey, the Greeks had Western European volunteers, who came as individuals, plus Garibaldi's Red Shirts, who came in company strength. Individual foreign volunteers fought for the United States during our War of Independence: von Steuben, Pulaski, Kosziusko. The members of the International Brigades in Spain could also be considered ideologically motivated. Suggest none of these were interested in changing sides if offered more money.

Grelber

42flanker06 Jul 2018 5:05 a.m. PST

I met the son of an Spanish aquaintance in the local bar and learned he was a sergeant in the newly professional Ejercito de España, returned home on leave.

"Oh, I'm from a military family," I said cheerfully.

He shook his head. "I am not a soldier by vocation," he said sombrely. "I am a soldier by trade. I do it for a wage"- which takes us back to Winston's description of the circumstances of recruitment in Hessen Kassel during the 1770s.

historygamer06 Jul 2018 6:27 a.m. PST

So were the Canadians fighting for the Continentals mercenaries? How about all the foreign volunteer officers like von Steuben, Pulaski, Lafayette, etc.?

arthur181506 Jul 2018 7:24 a.m. PST

'Mercenary' is often used to suggest someone who is entirely motivated by money, such as many Premier League soccer players who will change teams simply to get more money; unscrupulous lawyers, double-glazing salesmen &c. &c. The word has, effectively, become a pejorative.

It seems harsh to call a soldier a 'mercenary' simply because – having volunteered or been conscripted – he accepts pay for doing his duty – do you expect him to fight for nothing, and condemn his family to poverty?

How many of us would do our daily jobs for no financial reward? Most people have to earn a living; some choose, or are forced by circumstances, do so by soldiering. Provided the soldier, or any employee, fulfils his contract, he is not acting immorally by accepting pay for his services.

When British officers serving in the Mahratta armies, suggested that they come over to the King's/EIC forces rather than fight against them, they were told they should serve out the term of their contracts and only then resign.
Serving in the army of another country or prince was not then considered, ipso facto, inappropriate or dishonourable.


manOn the other hand, it will

Personal logo 22ndFoot Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 7:39 a.m. PST

Hessian soldiers enlisted in the Hessian army, served under Hessian officers in Hessian regiments and most, although not all, returned to Hesse after the war.

The Hessian government decided in its wisdom, to rent out part of its forces to Great Britain. This was an economic and political decision taken by the Hessian government over which the soldiers themselves had no control and was common practice at that time. The Hessian soldiers, as soldiers have done down the years, did not reason why but soldiered on.

Whatever they were, they were not mercenaries and can only be described as such using the narrow definition which describes anyone who serves for pay as a mercenary – a definition which, while popular in certain circles, was not generally held even at the time and would include many of us on here, myself included.

If, arguendo, we accept this "serving for pay" argument then, clearly, Hessians were mercenaries but so were Continentals, British regulars, French regulars and militia depending on their terms of service. This makes the definition essentially meaningless and the appellation should not be applied exclusively to Hessians.

Clearly the attitude to medieval mercenaries changed relatively quickly after the Welsh Wars as, at least in England, feudal levies were done away with and troops served under indenture – in consideration of which they were paid from the merest tap boy to the highest in the land. Shakespear was able to have Henry V say, "We are but warriors for the working day…".

In answer to the question originally set, yes, what is a mercenary and who is a mercenary does change over time. It also changes with the political opinion of the person making the definition.

Personal logo brass1 Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 8:38 a.m. PST

Phu Bai, May 1972.

We're sitting in the unburned section of a former ARVN hooch, discussing what we'll do when we get out of the Army. Inevitably, the suggestion that we should stick together and become mercenaries is entertained. One of the guys seems confused and finally asks me "Sarge, what's a mercenary?" "Somebody who fights for money," I reply.
He cogitates on this for a moment and then asks "Isn't that what we do?"

Good enough for me.

LT

AussieAndy Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 8:46 a.m. PST

Foxweasel, in the occupied Netherlands, my father's cousin was given the choice of being shot (for stealing food from the Germans) or joining the SS (or so my father always, vehmently, insisted when we teased him about it). That particular non-ideological "volunteer" survived Russia and made it home, so I'm guessing that he was a tough dude.

foxweasel06 Jul 2018 9:20 a.m. PST

Andy, that's a fair one, I've no doubt a few were forced into it. But I think a lot did it either because they were Nazis or thought the Nazis were going to win.

AICUSV06 Jul 2018 9:31 a.m. PST

The difference between a professional and a mercenary is simple. If he is on your side he is a professional, fighting on the other side he's a mercenary.

Scott originally American Volunteers were truly that, they received a financial remittance to supplement a shortage of rations. In order words they were to use the money they got to purchase what the government could not supply. Reading over some accounts from the Revolution, the British troops were surprised that the Americans would do work (such as build roads or fortifications) without receiving additional pay.


Now where do "Company" soldiers fit in (East India Company Army) or Capt. John Smith (Virginia Company)? How about 'Military Advisors", soldiers sent by one country to aid the forces of another, without the first country being involved in the conflict?

42flanker06 Jul 2018 10:48 a.m. PST

I think being subordinated to an existing political or power structure, and being governed by the rule of law and whatever codes of war are in place, might also help serve to distinguish a professional soldier from a mercenary.

The term 'Soldier of fortune' used to be current in the C19th. Men with military experience who found their skills redundant in the place where they learned them, and either not wishing or not capable of following another trade, travelled to where their skills were of use and continued soldiering there; for instance the French officers who trained the Maharatta and Sikh armies.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 11:01 a.m. PST

I think that mercenary is a term best used for those who as noted above fight for money regardless of sides, especially when they change sides

Like the ever-friendly Renaissance Swiss pikemen

link

Parzival06 Jul 2018 11:52 a.m. PST

Hence Albrecht Durer's image of Death as a gaunt man at arms, his sallet visor up and his lance over his shoulder.

This intepretation of the image is incorrect. Death is the rotting corpse in the crown, bearing an hour glass and looking at the knight. The Devil is the grotesque beast behind the knight. The knight is simply a knight, quite hale and hearty, who is either unaware of or deliberately ignoring these two looming threats. The piece is an allegory of life, essentially that even the bravest, most powerful individual will one day succumb to death, and that the slightest misstep can cause the noblest soul to be overcome by evil. Whether the knight is a mercenary really isn't established by the image at all, and is irrelevant to it.

42flanker06 Jul 2018 12:44 p.m. PST

This intepretation of the image is incorrect.

I apologise. It was a shorthand upon which I hoped no one would pull me up. Curses. Found out.

I would say, though, that the man-at-arms is hardly riding through a sylvan meadow, is he? (Some might say it even has overtones of the blighted kingdom of the Fisher King in 'Parzifal'- and other Grail legends…}:) )

I feel his influence in the state of that landscape is at least ambiguous. Is he merely a pilgrim through that barren land, or is he as a man of war acting as the the agent of Death, heedless of the perils of damnation?

"………..and at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment."

Regardless of that, I do think I will stick with 'gaunt' and raise you 'hollow eyed.' But no, he is not a mercenary as such.

Tgunner06 Jul 2018 1:37 p.m. PST

very few of them would be willing to serve for no pay

Name for me someone who would willingly give up years of their life, and risk their skin, for nothing?

A soldier, in the US Army, is an employee of the US Government. We swear to uphold and defend the Constitution of the USA in exchange for what's in our contracts. Mine was the GI Bill to get me through college. So does that make a merc?

I VOLUNTEERED, that is agreed willingly without coercion, for 8 years of service. In exchange, the USA agreed to feed me, clothe me, board me, provide me with spending money, and it agreed to pay for my schooling and provide me with the various veteran's benefits. That is if I served my time honorably.

Bargained well and done.

Did that make me a merc?

I wore the uniform of the United States Army and served under her colors. I was bound to follow the lawful orders of officers commissioned by the Congress of the United States. That made me a SOLDIER.

What's a merc then? Well they are professionals, like doctors, teachers, and lawyers, but their profession is that of fighting wars. Huh, that does sound similar. They sign contracts for pay and perhaps benefits and in exchange they serve their employer. Well… my employer was the United States… yeah, that does sound SIMILAR.

However there is a glaring difference.

I was a professional soldier, but I had a loyalty to a specific country, my country, The United States of America. That loyalty goes far beyond the cash I was paid and the benefits that I got. I wouldn't have served the UK (Though I would argue that the Gurkhas aren't really mercs), Saudi Arabia, France (are Legionnaires really mercs???), or any other nation that supposedly hires mercs.

Nope. I wouldn't.

My first loyalty wasn't to my paycheck. It was to my country- a country that I proudly served (yup, that makes me a nationalist!). I served my country and my country in turn served me thus ensuring my everlasting loyalty. Yes, I'm a southerner, but I consider myself a loyal Union man.

At the end of the day that is what separates a merc from a soldier (marines are bizarre alien lifeforms of whom I won't speak about! ;). Both belong to the profession of arms, are men-at-arms, but loyalty to a nation or a cause defines the soldier while the merc's loyalty belongs to a contract.

Personal logo Unlucky General Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 3:02 p.m. PST

Tgunner makes some interesting points but this is a hazardous topic when we start 'discussing' the mercenary roots of professional soldiery with loyalists of any feather. I've had my head bitten off by former servicemen before – there are understandably a number of raw nerves you can easily trip on.

Is there a good/bad comparison going on in this discussion? I'm not fully understanding the need to distinguish one from the other – especially for wargaming purposes. Is it a morale/competence equation?

Nationalism, loyalty and duty are certainly touted as 'virtues' and are important psychological elements of national service but so is pay if it's your full time occupation. A professional national soldier can be and is 'hired' out when a government makes a political decision to join this war or that in however it determines the nation's best interest at the time.

Brandenburg/Prussia and other German states fielded permanent military establishments throughout the 17th/18th century greater than the public purse could sustain and several regiments were on permanent paid service of the Dutch (for example). I suppose you can rout the pay-stream how you like but how are such soldiers classified? Generals of the era were similarly aligned and might be fighting for armies with hardly a man from their 'country'.

Blind national loyalty can be construed as as thin a veneer of morality as that which enables mercenaries fighting purely for pay. It also enables all sorts of dubious wars for rotten causes in the past and today. Then again volunteering as a temporary citizen soldier for 'cause' is just as susceptible to manipulation and misinformation even in this information age.

I think I've managed to talk myself into a circle now.

Dn Jackson06 Jul 2018 4:09 p.m. PST

"Is there a good/bad comparison going on in this discussion? I'm not fully understanding the need to distinguish one from the other – especially for wargaming purposes. Is it a morale/competence equation?"

Nope, no good/bad, simply a topic I found interesting. Winston has maintained that the Hessians in the AWI were not mercenaries and I found the fact that some people, going back to at least the 1200s, (which was a surprise to me), considered anyone who was a paid soldier to be a mercenary.

I guess its a form of historical trivia or pedantry on my part.

42flanker06 Jul 2018 5:52 p.m. PST

Surely, the conversation turns on whether 'mercenary' has negative conotations or not when applied to soldiery. This was not always the case; in concept if not in actual vocabulary.

It's worth remembering that the word 'soldier' derives from the Latin 'solidus,' a small coin, relating to the Spanish sueldo 'a wage.'

As somebody pointed out, bandying the term 'mercenary' as crticism is a value judgement that can be deployed for political reasons, as occurred at the time of the AWI, when the British use of the Hessian 'mercenaries' was decried, together with the closely related 'hireling' in relation to forces of the Crown.' For propaganda purposes, this was placed in opposition to the Rebel forces who were presented as volunteers nobly fighting for a cause (just as well given the state of congressional finances).

The irony here is that not only did the Continental Line as it progressed develop into a skilled, experienced i.e. professional fighting force who would like to have been paid more regularly than they were, but a certain number of the men in the ranks were former British 'hirelings' who had deserted (somebody else might be able to offer an idea of numbers).

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 6:10 p.m. PST

Samuel P. Huntingdon's "The Soldier and the State" was required reading in my graduate course on US Military History. The book examines the relationship between the military and government and society. While he doesn't directly touch on mercenaries, he does define the profession of military officership. He states that a professional (in any field) is distinguished from a craftsman by three traits: (1) Expertise, (2) Corporateness, and (3) Responsibility. Expertise is the specific body of knowledge used by the profession to do its job. This could be military knowledge in the case of a soldier or medical knowledge in the case of a doctor. Corporateness means that the professional belongs to a recognized and distinct body of people. Again officers are part of a country's military, such as doctors are part of a group of trained and licensed medical specialists. Finally, Responsibility means that the professional serves the society to which he belongs. The officer is sworn to the service of his country, while a doctor is sworn to the service of mankind. Each uses his knowledge for the benefit of those he is sworn to. Huntingdon stresses the fact that if the professional fails in his responsibility he ceases to be a professional. An officer who fights against his country is no longer an officer and a doctor who uses his skills to hurt people is no longer a doctor. Under this definition, you could claim that an officer who no longer serves his country is no longer an officer but is a mercenary. An enlisted soldier, like a carpenter or plumber, has one or two of the characteristics described above but not all three. They are not professionals by Huntingdon's definition.

goragrad06 Jul 2018 6:29 p.m. PST

According to some history I read recently, much of the stigma in the Feudal period for mercenaries resulted from the Brabanters hired by King Stephen during the Anarchy whose conduct (along with that of their countrymen in other parts of Europe and other mercenaries from Gasconny and Basques among others) led to their being excommunicated.

Henry II banished Flemings from England as well due the atrocities committed by mercenaries.

Not surprising then that at the time of Longshanks that the term had a bad flavor.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 7:15 p.m. PST

H. Beam Piper wrote that a professional soldier is a mercenary in the service of his own country, and I hate to disagree with Piper. But I think in certain contexts the word suggests a soldier who, as Frederick and ZuluPaul suggest, is unconcerned with country and cause, and might fight on the other side if they had placed the higher bid.

That places some of the mercenaries of the Belgian Congo and Biafra in a hazy middle ground, by the way--and and fighting in a war not their own, but possibly unwilling to have done so for the other cause.

But never forget the Swiss mercenary and the Spaniard--

"You filthy Swiss! You fight for money!"
"Yes, of course. What do you fight for?"
"Honor, naturally!"
"See? Everyone fights for what they don't have."

16th Century, I think.

wmyers06 Jul 2018 7:40 p.m. PST

By these definitions it provides evidence to the olde revolutionary statement of the police merely being the mercenaries of the state.

42flanker06 Jul 2018 11:53 p.m. PST

Surely, the mercenaries were the hired guns who did the evil rancher's dirty work. The professionals were the marshal and Texas Rangers who rode out to confront them- while the sheriff's posse (comitatus) and a few hurriedly sworn-in deputies were sent to head the bad guys off at the pass (but really a ploy to keep them out of the way).

As for the guy in the poncho, just don't laught at his mule.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 2:02 a.m. PST

he correct contemporary term for the German troops that served as part of the Crown forces in the AWI is "Auxiliaries", Rebel propaganda notwithstanding (as 42flanker points out, British Regulars were pejoratively referred to as "the King's paid hirelings"). One must also remember the long-held English antipathy towards standing armies – which almost killed the Revolution as many members of Conrgess believed the Militia could and should do their fighting.

Whilst never part of the British Army per se, the position of the German contingents was not that different from, say, the Deux Ponts/Zweibrucken Regiment serving under Rochambeau, which was raised by treaty between France and its ruler. Two further points to bear in mind – one is that three of the German rulers who sent troops to N America between 1776 and 1783 were blood relatives of George III and some level of familial loyalty was involved, as well as money; second is that the Hesse Cassel and Brunswick contingents had been traditional allies of Great Britain since serving together under Marlborough, the former even serving in Scotland during the 1745 rebellion (Baron Riedesel – a native-born Hessian, despite being in charge of the Brunswick troops – was among them).

As someone else has pointed out, the UN recognises Gurkhas as part of the British Army and not mercenaries. Here is the full definition as contained in Article 1 of the latest Protocol:-

1. A mercenary is any person who:

(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;

(b) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar rank and functions in the armed forces of that party;

(c) Is neither a national of a party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a party to the conflict;

(d) Is not a member of the armed forces of a party to the conflict; and
(e) Has not been sent by a State which is not a party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.
2. A mercenary is also any person who, in any other situation:
(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad for the purpose of participating in a concerted act of violence aimed at:

(i) Overthrowing a Government or otherwise undermining the constitutional order of a State; or

(ii) Undermining the territorial integrity of a State;

(b) Is motivated to take part therein essentially by the desire for significant private gain and is prompted by the promise or payment of material compensation;

(c) Is neither a national nor a resident of the State against which such an act is directed;

(d) Has not been sent by a State on official duty; and

(e) Is not a member of the armed forces of the State on whose territory the act is undertaken.
ENDS

42flanker07 Jul 2018 2:36 a.m. PST

'Auxiliary' is a term of ancient and honorable lineage, being that used to describe bodies of troops recruited locally on the fringes of the Roman Empire, sometimes harnessing skills special to the fighting men of a given locale (Gaul, Syria, Batavia) to fight alongside the Legions.

Legionaries, if not actual natives of Rome or the Italian peninsula, were Roman citizens, while Auxiliaries were not.

Both classes of soldier were paid, and like the British, were had the promise of land at end of their service.

Bill N07 Jul 2018 5:17 a.m. PST

Rebel propaganda notwithstanding

Propaganda is a normal tool of war, especially when national leaders require popular support to successfully pursue the war. The same is true of manipulating legal concepts to provide justifications for your own positions. The AWI was no different from other wars in those respects. What mattered to American colonists during the AWI was what could be sold in their homes and taverns and not what accepted practices might be in Europe. Regiments hired from the various German states were mercenaries because it suited the purposes of leaders of the American rebellion to call them mercenaries.

Legion 407 Jul 2018 8:12 a.m. PST

Hammer's Slammers and the FFL… of course …

But seriously any actual recognized nation/country/state, and there are @ 193 in the UN. That has a nationalized military force really can't be considered Mercs, IMO. Whether conscript/draftee or professional/volunteer …

Dn Jackson07 Jul 2018 3:53 p.m. PST

"An enlisted soldier, like a carpenter or plumber, has one or two of the characteristics described above but not all three. They are not professionals by Huntingdon's definition."

It's obvious Huntingdon never met my old First Sgt. or my father, the Gunny.

Lion in the Stars07 Jul 2018 11:19 p.m. PST

Personally, I define them as anyone who fights for a country other than their own whilst being paid for it. This can lead to some good arguments and people getting quite upset, like on a mortar range at Salisbury plain when I accused a British Gurkha Captain of leading a mercenary band.

You're still alive, he must not have been *that* mad at you. evil grin

Samuel P. Huntingdon's "The Soldier and the State" was required reading in my graduate course on US Military History. The book examines the relationship between the military and government and society. While he doesn't directly touch on mercenaries, he does define the profession of military officership. He states that a professional (in any field) is distinguished from a craftsman by three traits: (1) Expertise, (2) Corporateness, and (3) Responsibility. Expertise is the specific body of knowledge used by the profession to do its job. This could be military knowledge in the case of a soldier or medical knowledge in the case of a doctor. Corporateness means that the professional belongs to a recognized and distinct body of people. Again officers are part of a country's military, such as doctors are part of a group of trained and licensed medical specialists. Finally, Responsibility means that the professional serves the society to which he belongs. The officer is sworn to the service of his country

And the enlisted man is somehow not sworn to the service of his country? :headscratch:

42flanker08 Jul 2018 1:30 a.m. PST

Samuel P. Huntingdon is evidently a ass.

Legion 408 Jul 2018 7:34 a.m. PST

Yeah I doubt he ever served and yes he is an #%$(*&@!

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