A little known secret is that US 'security' firms recruit former military personnel from South Africa and Namibia to guard US bases in Iraq. These recruits are more often than not soldiers drawn from the apartheid regime in South Africa, and its historical counterpart in Namibia.
In the post-apartheid era, both South Africa and Namibia prohibit their private citizens from becoming soldiers of fortune. Though it must be said, the enforcement of this prohibition is hardly prioritized.
During the time that I taught at South Africa's military university in 2005, I knew of several highly trained former officers and non-commissioned officers, all of them white, who were working in Iraq.
These highly skilled men were aggressively sought after by US security firms who are essentially contracted to do so by the US military.
The inducement to sign-up is a very fat salary in US dollars that afford these apartheid era soldiers a rich lifestyle, expensive beach houses, and ultra-luxury German cars.
I am not aware of any high profile case(s) that have come to light in South Africa, but Namibia has just kicked out two US opertatives who were busy recruiting soldiers of fortune. The government in Windhoek, according to Information Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, declared the two Americans "prohibited immigrants" on Friday.
Namibia's State Security Committee also "recommended the closure of the Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group (SOC-SMG)," run by the two US nationals.
The two men have been identitfied as "Paul Grimes, SOC-SMG country representative (in Namibia) and Fredric Piry, the firm's chief of operations."
According to News24, the headquarters of SOC-SMG is located in Nevada. The Namibian office was opened at the beginning of October.
This is a significant move for Namibia and it sets an important precedent. I say this because the practice is wide-spread in the southern African region. But perhaps more importantly, this is a clear motioning to the US that Namibia does not support the US war in Iraq.
In fact, the Information Minister stated clearly that:"The involvement of the USA in Iraq was never sanctioned or supported through any international agreement and can thus not be supported by Namibia."
I would like to see the South African government follow the Namibian example. There is a definite need to similarly distance South Africa from the war in Iraq. Particularly in terms that address the recruitment of military personnel in South Africa.
It will be interesting to see what Pretoria might say, if anything, about the deportations in Namibia.