Very interesting news and I thought I would put this up on the blog incase someone has any other information to add to this news. I held off on talking about this when news of it first trickled out, all because I could not find any legitimate news group to confirm it. The New York Times was the group that originally broke the story about Reflex Responses and I put that up on the blog back in 2011. I haven’t heard much about it since.
I do know that the whole thing switched from a PMSC scheme with Reflex Responses as the recruiting company, to just a recruitment of Latin Americans directly to fight for the UAE armed forces. I talked about that transition here and here. It has been quite the drain on the Colombian market of force. Those guys must have been pretty bored all of these years.
Now that the UAE actually has a war to fight in Yemen, and they have lost a few of their own in that war, I am sure the idea of using more foreign troops to do that job will be more appealing to the locals of the UAE. The houthis and Saleh’s guys are definitely giving them a fight, and even launching ballistic missiles.
Back to the deployment of mercenaries in Yemen. What is interesting is that there is some history of mercenaries being used in that part of the world. Former SAS guys were recruited to fight there back in the sixties and did quite well. I imagine the current coalition will use these Colombian/Latin forces for basic infantry tasks, like guarding facilities or light patrolling. We will see how far they will go in their usage. Here is a quote about the make up of this force and what they are getting paid.
The Emiratis have spent the equivalent of millions of dollars equipping the unit, from firearms and armored vehicles to communications systems and night vision technology. But Emirati leaders rarely visit the camp. When they do, the troops put on tactical demonstrations, including rappelling from helicopters and driving armored dune buggies.
And yet they stay largely because of the money, receiving salaries ranging from $2,000 to $3,000 a month, compared with approximately $400 a month they would make in Colombia. Those troops who deploy to Yemen will receive an additional $1,000 per week, according to a person involved in the project and a former senior Colombian military officer.
Hundreds of Colombian troops have been trained in the Emirates since the project began in 2010 — so many that the Colombian government once tried to broker an agreement with Emirati officials to stanch the flow headed to the Persian Gulf. Representatives from the two governments met, but an agreement was never signed.
Most of the recruiting of former troops in Colombia is done by Global Enterprises, a Colombian company run by a former special operations commander named Oscar Garcia Batte. Mr. Batte is also co-commander of the brigade of Colombian troops in the Emirates, and is part of the force now deployed in Yemen.
I could not find Oscar’s company online and if anyone has a link, I will update it here. I did find him on Linkedin, but no mention of Global Enterprises. Interesting stuff and we will see how it goes for them. I imagine we will see more of this kind of thing amongst the wealthy gulf nations. ISIS and Al Qaeda are both expanding and morphing into hybrid terrorist armies, and Iran continues to meddle and cause trouble. The middle east will continue to require manpower for it’s wars and security, and private industry will certainly answer the call. –Matt
Emirates Secretly Sends Colombian Mercenaries to Fight in Yemen
By EMILY B. HAGER and MARK MAZZETTI
NOV. 25, 2015
The United Arab Emirates has secretly dispatched hundreds of Colombian mercenaries to Yemen to fight in that country’s raging conflict, adding a volatile new element in a complex proxy war that has drawn in the United States and Iran.
It is the first combat deployment for a foreign army that the Emirates has quietly built in the desert over the past five years, according to several people currently or formerly involved with the project. The program was once managed by a private company connected to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater Worldwide, but the people involved in the effort said that his role ended several years ago and that it has since been run by the Emirati military.
The arrival in Yemen of 450 Latin American troops — among them are also Panamanian, Salvadoran and Chilean soldiers — adds to the chaotic stew of government armies, armed tribes, terrorist networks and Yemeni militias currently at war in the country. Earlier this year, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia, including the United States, began a military campaign in Yemen against Houthi rebels who have pushed the Yemeni government out of the capital, Sana.
It is also a glimpse into the future of war. Wealthy Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates, have in recent years embraced a more aggressive military strategy throughout the Middle East, trying to rein in the chaos unleashed by the Arab revolutions that began in late 2010. But these countries wade into the new conflicts — whether in Yemen, Syria or Libya — with militaries that are unused to sustained warfare and populations with generally little interest in military service.