• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Bundeswehr soldiers 'for hire as mercenaries'

The Local · 30 Apr 2013, 06:54

Published: 30 Apr 2013 06:54 GMT+02:00

As members of the German army, Bundeswehr, soldiers are not allowed to work as mercenaries for private companies – yet many are doing it, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) found out.

Exact figures on how many of Germany's soldiers, or former soldiers, work the private security circuit are unknown. According to the FAZ's research, the field is growing and critics are warning of a “mercenary renaissance”.

In response to a written request for information from the Green Party last year, the government revealed that there were at least a dozen registered mercenary companies in the country alone.

One such firm told the paper that although they did not advertise jobs, it received three applications each day – mostly from soldiers. Those given a job are often sent to guard ships or to pick up the slack in combat zones.

The paper said guarding German freighters off Africa, where piracy is rife, was a common gig. Last spring the government passed a law saying its country's ships were allowed to have armed protection – but the idea was not that German soldiers should do it in their spare time.

And though ships can be owned by German companies, many fly under a different national flag – largely Liberia, Antigua or Barbuda, which have different laws on what weapons guards can use.

Identified only as Till, an ex-Bundeswehr soldier turned ship security guard told the FAZ that when working at sea he worked with automatic weapons that are banned from German-flagged ships.

"With an AK47 and a PKM you are the king of the sea," he told the paper.

Till, like others working the ship scene, earns around €6,000 for a six-week trip – far more than he would have for the same tour of duty with the Bundeswehr. He is no longer in active service due to post traumatic stress syndrome, but by law soldiers have to tell the army if they are working for a private security firm for five years after leaving.

An army paramedic identified as Marcel K., told the FAZ that when working on ships his colleagues had included soldiers, police officers and customs workers. Most were, he said, looking to make extra money. He soon found that he could earn more money working freelance on land – being a “combat medic” in a war zone could get him €8,000 per month.

He added that in his experience, mercenary soldiers did not fill the testosterone-fuelled, trigger-happy image portrayed in the media. Rather, most tended to be family men out to earn extra money, or adventurous types in it for the experience.

Outside of Germany, security firms in Britain and the US are said to be fond of hiring German military personnel – particularly elite soldiers – although the country's defence ministry denied knowledge of this.

Story continues below…

A spokesman from the ministry contradicted the newspaper, saying it knew of “no active soldiers working for private firms.” But while soldiers are well-informed of what they may and may not do, the army does not keep tabs on them during leave.

Soldiers wishing to work elsewhere may only do so with permission from their superiors, but since the defence ministry said there were none registered this suggests that the “dozens” cited by the FAZ were doing so illegally.

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Dutch join hunt for German terrorists-turned-outlaws
From left to right: Ernst-Volker Staub, Daniela Klette and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: DPA.

Dutch police on Tuesday told people to be on the lookout for three German far-left militants, at large for decades and suspected of a string of recent heists.

German Olympic champion savages 'pro-doping' IOC
Robert Harting. Photo: DPA

Olympic discus champion Robert Harting on Tuesday launched a verbal attack on compatriot Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, for the IOC's stance on state-run Russian doping.

Man gets life in jail for murder of two young children
Silvio Schulz. Photo: DPA

A former security guard was handed a life sentence Tuesday for murdering two children, one of them a four-year-old Bosnian boy snatched from a crowded migrant registration centre last year.

Munich shooting
German Turks mourn Munich shooting victims
Flowers for the victims. Photo: DPA

Seven of the nine victims were Muslim.

Doctor killed in Berlin hospital shooting: police
Police at the scene in southern Berlin. Photo: DPA

A doctor has died after being shot at a Berlin hospital by an elderly man, Berlin police said on Twitter on Tuesday.

The Local List
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts

These hidden spots are steeped in shadows of their past and just begging to be explored...

Berlin refugee teen prepares to swim at the Olympics
Photo: DPA

Eighteen-year-old refugee Yusra Mardini has pulled a boat of 20 refugees from the middle of the Aegean to the Greek shore. Now she's preparing to swim at the Olympics.

Opinion
There still hasn’t been an Isis attack on Germany
The attack site in Ansbach. Photo: DPA

The last week has been brutal and shocking, but we need to stay calm and keep the events we have witnessed in perspective, argues Jörg Luyken.

How plainclothes cops caused panic at Munich shooting
Photo: DPA

Plainclothes officers can help in fight against gun attacks. But Munich showed that they can lead to confusion in efforts to track down the real attackers.

Immigration and integration Germany's 'biggest challenge'
Migrants queuing at a reception centre in Bavaria. Photo: DPA

Eighty-three percent of Germans see immigration as Germany's "biggest challenge" - that's twice as many as a year ago, and more than in any of the other countries surveyed.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,756
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd