How private military services saved Sierra Leone: The contracting out of military duties came from necessity but help ensure long-lasting security

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

By Marika Josephides

Dismissing private military contractors as mercenaries can be simplistic and misleading, as their deployment in Sierra Leone’s Civil War displayed. That the country is rebounding despite 2014’s Ebola crisis is due in part to the success of contracted firms neutralising destabilising rebel groups.

For impoverished Sierra Leone with its history of civil warfare, more unwelcomed news came with the Ebola plague that commenced mid-2014 and continued to claim victims and exhaust precious national resources through October and November. However, a central government stronger than any in decades was in place to deal with a public health emergency so deadly it possessed the ability to undermine national security. The existence of such an unprecedented degree of security (for Sierra Leone) can be traced to the timely employment of private military companies (PMCs) during the nation’s civil war two decades ago.