Archive for category Switzerland

Libya: The Swiss Contracted Aegis To Protect Their Embassy In Libya

The government had justified its choice to employ a private firm with local knowledge to guard the Tripoli embassy because it needed time to draw up an operational plan and reach a decision on whether to proceed.

This story has it all–from irony to hilarity. Here are the Swiss, whom for hundreds of years were known for having some of the best mercenary armies in the world, and they contract with a foreign firm called Aegis to protect their embassy in Libya? I guess the Swiss Guard is good enough for the Pope, but not good enough for the Swiss Embassy? lol It is also ironic because the Swiss wanted to ban the use of PMSC’s, but here they are contracting the services of one to protect their embassy. hmmm…..

All kidding aside, the way I look at this story is that it was an honor that Aegis was chosen and given such a contract. And the Swiss government has within it’s right to contract the services of such a company, if it makes sense for that particular situation. I would also be curious about this quote, because the article does not give enough information as to the real numbers here. Like what was the length of time for the Aegis contract? Was this just a three month contract, or what? Because if they are going to throw around a cost effectiveness statement like this, then we need to see the numbers.

The foreign ministry said on Thursday that the Aegis contract will have cost SFr960,000 altogether. The cost to deploy members of the Army Reconnaissance Detachment 10 should be around SFr600,000 for six months.

If anyone from the company has anything to say about the contract itself, please feel free to do so in the comments section. Because this particular article makes it sound like Swiss Commandos are having to storm in and save the day.

I suspect otherwise, and if anything, Aegis did exactly what they were asked to do. Provide security on the ground for the start up of this thing, and meanwhile the Swiss can figure out a plan for what they want to do. –Matt


Commandos ready to secure Tripoli embassy
Jan 26, 2012
Swiss special forces will officially take over security tasks at Switzerland’s embassy in Libya on Monday, replacing private firm Aegis.
The government’s decision to hire Aegis for over three months was widely criticised in Swiss political circles. Although the company is headquartered in Basel since 2010, it also employs 20,000 mercenaries who are deployed mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan, making it one of the world’s biggest private armies.
The government had justified its choice to employ a private firm with local knowledge to guard the Tripoli embassy because it needed time to draw up an operational plan and reach a decision on whether to proceed.
The cabinet has since drawn up legislation banning private security firms operating in conflict zones or holding companies in this sector from being based in Switzerland.
The foreign ministry said on Thursday that the Aegis contract will have cost SFr960,000 altogether. The cost to deploy members of the Army Reconnaissance Detachment 10 should be around SFr600,000 for six months.
The embassy in Tripoli is the only Swiss representation abroad where Swiss soldiers will be responsible for security.
Story here.

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Industry Talk: Swiss Government Proposes Ban On Mercenary Firms, Except For The Swiss Guard?

The irony here is that the Swiss are famous for fielding one of the best and longest standing mercenary armies in the history of the business. Matter of fact, remnants of that force is still operating today, and they are called the Swiss Guard. Did I mention that this group is protecting the Pope at the Vatican? lol Although the Swiss Guard is now referred to as just a branch of the Swiss military, it still has historical significance. So I take it the Swiss will be pulling this force from duty at the Vatican after they implement their ban on mercenaries?

The other thing that must be mentioned is that Swiss flagged vessels will need security if they plan on continuing to do business out there. The kind of laws they should be focused on are the ones that will get armed security on boats, and give them the legal authority to do what they need to do to protect Swiss vessels. It’s either that, or Swiss ship owners will get a flag of convenience and go somewhere else in order to get security on their boats. –Matt



Swiss government proposes ban on mercenary firms, tighter rules for private security companies
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Switzerland wants to banish mercenary firms and tighten the rules for private security companies based in the country in a bid to safeguard its tradition of neutrality, the government said Wednesday.
A draft bill submitted to parliament would ban Swiss-based companies from direct participation in armed conflicts abroad, and from recruiting or training mercenaries in Switzerland.
The proposal, which lawmakers have until the end of January to consider, also requires private security companies to report their activities to Swiss authorities, and to abide by an international code of conduct.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Industry Talk: Security Firms’ Future Looks Bright

     While it may seem strange for powerful countries to hand over to the private sector their monopoly on legitimate violence, Chaliand says it should be seen as a private-public partnership.

     Good little article here, and it helped to bring into perspective what this code means and what it could lead too. The only thing I would disagree with here is the cost of contractors versus military. No one ever mentions the whole pension thing or lifetime medical benefits that the military retiree receives, and contractors will not(unless a company provides that).  Nor is the cost of maintaining a large standing army during times of peace ever mentioned as being politically impossible, thus making the idea of an ‘instant support force’ of contractors during times of war a good idea. Or politicians can raise an army through the means of a draft and see how that works……Or not.

     Which takes us back to this code and the possible benefits of such a thing.  Militaries and countries around the world could really stand to benefit from an industry that is well regulated and ready to go.  Most importantly, an industry/temporary work force that is willing and able to serve in a war for that country. Hmmmm–‘willing’ versus ‘forced’, ‘temporary’ versus ‘long term’. –Matt

Security firms’ future looks bright

Nov 22, 2010

by Frédéric Burnand

Private security contractors, 60 of whom recently signed an international code of conduct in Geneva, could see their growth legitimised by this document.

But specialists are warning that without a planned control mechanism the code, which pledges respect of human rights and humanitarian law, could be nothing but an empty shell.

Private security firms have been very active in Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years. Before that it was Africa. But everywhere they operate, these companies have a reputation for carrying out uncontrolled mercenary activities.Today, they want to clean up their image through regulation, according to Alexandre Vautravers, head of international relations at Geneva’s Webster University.“Since the beginning of the decade, the Washington-based International Stability Operation Association has been working on the code of conduct,” he said.

Blackwater a signatory

The document signed in Geneva under the auspices of the Swiss authorities is therefore a response to demands from within the industry. Even Blackwater, best known for its activities in Iraq and since rebranded Xe Services, is one of the signatories.For French author Gérard Chaliand, who has written extensively about the mercenary business, companies like Blackwater have always found ways of surviving and expanding despite the criticism they face.“Regulating this industry seems indispensable to me with extended activities requiring new rules,” he told “But it shouldn’t just be declarations of intention: there should also be sanctions.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Publications: 2010 International Code Of Conduct For Private Security Service Providers

2010 International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers

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Industry Talk: Private Security Companies Sign Landmark Code Of Conduct In Switzerland

     This is great news and a big round of applause to all involved for all the hard work they put into this over the years. I think it is very significant that so many of the big name companies have signed on to this thing from around the world, and that there has been such wide support from outside organizations.

     Below I posted the DoS statements on the signing, as well as press releases from Triple Canopy and AEGIS. Now what will really be interesting is how this will be implemented, and how it will help to get companies to do the right thing.

     And like what the article below has stated, this Code of Conduct does not mean that the customer does not have to do anything anymore in terms of regulation or oversight. This just gives them a tool to work off of. So hopefully the efforts of the US government will continue down that path of creating a strong and effective contracting corps.

     Especially as the DoS enters into the new phase of these wars, and they become more dependent on the services of security contractors to continue the mission. Or as the shipping companies continues to look more towards armed private security for their boats.  –Matt

ISOA Applauds the Signing of a Landmark Code of Conduct

Trade Association Endorses a Voluntary Code to Address Responsible Oversight and Accountability of Private Security Companies

Washington, DC – The International Stability Operations Association (“ISOA”), a trade association that promotes high operational and ethical standards among its membership including more than twenty private security firms, today strongly endorsed the first-ever International Code of Conduct to ensure better transparency and accountability within the stability operations industry. The code was signed earlier today in Geneva, Switzerland, by more than fifty private security companies, including many ISOA Member companies. Among the speakers at the event were Swiss State Secretary Peter Maurer, Triple Canopy CEO Ingacio Balderas, G4S Director of Public Affairs Michael Clarke, Legal Advisor to the U.S. Department of State Harold Honju Koh, and Devon Chaffee of Human Rights First.In particular, this voluntary Code of Conduct highlights private security contractors’ commitment to respecting human rights and the rule of law in conflict zones, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, it offers guidelines for the rules for the use of force and requires standards for recruitment, vetting, training, management of weapons, and internal control mechanisms. It also requires companies to ensure their employees “take all necessary steps to avoid the use of force” and explicitly bans mistreatment of detainees, forced labor, and sexual exploitation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Industry Talk: The Rise Of The UK’s Private Security Companies

     Good little story on the UK private security industry. Also it is good to see Andy Bearpark of BAPSC and Mr. Binns of Aegis get a little attention in the report.

     One area that I would like to further clarify though is that British companies are not immune from making mistakes or being involved in ‘gung ho’ operations, as the article below has stated. They typically do a good job, but believe me, back in the early days of Iraq, the British companies did stupid things out on the roads and on the bases as well. None of the companies were immune from making mistakes out there. But what defined the good companies from the bad ones, were those that cared to get it right and learned from those mistakes.

    Also, there was no mention of the upcoming International Code of Conduct signing taking place on Nov. 9th in Switzerland? Partners in the UK and the US have been involved in the creation of this code, and this will be a document that will help to further classify ‘industry best practices and standards’ that could be instrumental in weeding out the bad companies, both in the UK and the US. –Matt

Graham Binns

Graham Binns says the future is bright for the UK’s private security industry. 

The rise of the UK’s private security companies

1 November 2010

By Edwin Lane

Major General Graham Binns is not your typical chief executive.

As a lifelong soldier, he is more used to commanding an armoured division than a company boardroom.

In 2003 he commanded British troops invading southern Iraq, and in 2007 returned as the commander of British forces overseeing the handover of Basra to the Iraqis.

But now, four months into his new job as chief executive of Aegis Defence Services – a British private security company (PSC) – he has left army life behind.

“It’s liberating,” he says, sitting in Aegis’s comfortable headquarters in a plush office building in central London.

“Thirty-five years in government service was a wonderful experience. But in the world of business, ex-military people have got a lot to offer – I certainly hope so anyway.”

For Aegis, netting a leading figure from the Iraq war can only be good for business – particularly when your business is in the often-controversial world of armed private security.

Now one of the UK’s biggest PSCs, Aegis has made millions from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan since it was founded just eight years ago.

Iraq bubble

It is even fair to say that Aegis, like much of the private security industry, owes its very existence to the last Iraq war.

“Certain activities can be done much more cost-effectively by the private sector” said Andy Bearpark of BAPSC

When the occupying forces found themselves trying to reconstruct the country while overwhelmed by Iraqi insurgency and sectarian violence, PSCs saw a lucrative opportunity.

“In Iraq in 2003 and 2004 money was basically free,” explains Andy Bearpark, director-general of the British Association of Private Security Companies (BAPSC).

“That meant [private security] contracts were being let for ridiculous amounts of money – millions and millions of dollars of contracts being pumped into the industry.

“The industry exploded in terms of the volume of business on the back of Iraq.”

Dozens of firms from the US and the UK stepped in to offer their services, providing governments and reconstruction NGOs with armed security personnel, convoy escorts, logistics support, training for the Iraqi security services, and risk analysis.

Names like Armorgroup and Control Risks, which had been around in the UK since the 80s, saw a chance to expand their businesses.

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