Former British SAS soldier Simon Mann’s private military ventures in Africa, including his involvement in the Angolan civil war with his PMC Executive Outcomes and a failed coup in Equatorial Guinea, have led to debate over the definition of mercenaries and the privatization of warfare.
Simon Mann, a former British soldier who served in the elite Special Air Service (SAS), turned to private military ventures in Africa after attempting to make his fortune in the oil industry in Angola. He and his friend Tony Buckingham recruited former members of the South African Defence Force and the Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB), an apartheid-era counterinsurgency unit, to form a private military company (PMC) called Executive Outcomes (EO) that secured Angolan government contracts to reconquer the oil-producing city of Soyo. EO’s success in Angola led to contracts with other African governments. Mann’s subsequent career included involvement in the controversial Sandline affair in Papua New Guinea and organizing a failed coup in Equatorial Guinea, for which he spent over five years in prison. Mann discussed the line between soldier and mercenary and the privatization of warfare in an interview. While he rejects the term “mercenary,” he acknowledges that private individuals are inevitably hired to provide logistical, security, or technical support in times of war or for peacetime military matters.