Discrete Interventions

MOGADISHU/BERLIN | | somalia

MOGADISHU/BERLIN (Own report) - The scandal caused by the planned dispatching of more than 100 German mercenaries to Somalia, is further evidence of the expansion of German private security companies. The CEO of the Asgaard German Security Group (based in Telgte, close to Muenster in North Rhine Westphalia) has confirmed that the company plans to dispatch a triple-digit sized group of armed personnel to Somalia to support a local warlord, who has declared himself the country's president. Whereas the German foreign ministry dissociates itself from the action, demands are growing in the West that alternatives be sought considering the policies of the EU and the USA toward Somalia to be fruitless. Activities of security companies, such as Asgaard, are intensifying abroad. They are cooperating on a regular basis with several foreign business associations, such as the German-Africa Business Association or the German-Iraqi Business Association (MIDAN), protecting German personnel in war and crisis zones. Berlin's Federal College for Security Studies is closely observing the development of this private industry of repression, which, according to its president, allows interventions that are "much less noticeable" than the usual military deployments.

Full Battle Gear

As the CEO of the German security company "Asgaard German Security Group" confirmed, the company plans to dispatch a triple-digit size group of armed personnel to Somalia. Asgaard had already declared in December 2009 that in Somalia, they will accomplish "wide-ranging and exclusive tasks" on behalf of the self-proclaimed president of the country. The activities range "from strategic consulting and planning for security to operational implementation and execution of all measures" necessary "to ensure safety and restore peace." "Training measures" and combating piracy are among these.[1] Not least of all, they will be engaged - in full battle gear - in militarily providing security for persons, property and convoys, according to the CEO.[2] Armed combat is not to be ruled out. The Somali employer declared that, under certain circumstances, the German mercenaries could also be "ordered to fight" alongside his militia.

Exploring Alternatives

The political conditions of their planned deployment of mercenaries remain unclear. For years, Germany and the EU have been supporting the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia, which also enjoyed the backing of the USA. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[3]) The Asgaard mercenaries' Somali employer, Galadid Abdinur Ahmad Darman has refused to recognize the TFG's legitimacy, declaring himself, in 2003, president of Somalia. He lives in exile, but apparently has control over militia in Somalia. Until now, Darman has not received international recognition. The United Nations claims to have information to the effect that he has provided access to Somalia for foreign companies and has counterfeited money, while his militia is accused of attacking independent journalists. A dubious agency ("SOMA-MEDIA" with a telephone number in the vicinity of Cologne) is making publicity for Darman, naming on their press releases the same contact person as the "Asgaard German Security Group". Whether the Asgaard has an official German green light is unknown. As a matter of fact, a growing number of voices - particularly in the USA - are considering the years of support of the so-called TFG to be fruitless and are demanding that alternatives be explored. For example the influential Council on foreign Relations, headquartered in New York declared that a new approach to Somalia should be pursued.[4]

Business Risks

Regardless of the concrete significance of the plans for mercenaries in Somalia, the Asgaard affair has once again pointed to the expansion of German private security companies (PSCs). Asgaard declared that it has been in business since 2004, maintaining a subsidiary in Nigeria and is in the process of preparing another. BA Enterprises (formerly Bodyguard Academy [5] with headquarters in Luebeck) is running a Nigerian subsidiary. BA Enterprises is among the cooperation partners of the German-Iraqi Business Association. German companies seeking to expand to the Iraq market are also being supported by other PSCs, among them the Result Group (based in Grünwald, close to Munich).[6] The Result Group is also a cooperation partner of the German-African Business Association, for which it provides "behavior and security training". The business association explains that "the very promising business opportunities" are "in numerous African countries, often linked to considerable security risks for the representatives of foreign companies." During training, the Result Group has the participants practice, among other things, how to "behave in the event of criminal attacks and political unrest."[7]

Preference for Combat Units

The Asgaard scandal also demonstrates the very close proximity between private security companies and official agencies of repression. Asgaard's prerequisites for applicants include at least four years of regular military service, with a "preference for combat or special unit experience." The Result Group is directed by a veteran of the SEK Special Weapons and Tactics unit of the German police and has other members who are not only veterans of the special German federal anti-terrorist GSG-9 police unit and the German military's KSK elite special forces unit, but also veterans of the German BND foreign secret service.[8] The CEO of the mercenary Asgaard company is an NCO of the German military reserves In Muenster, Sergeant Major Thomas Kaltegärtner, who, on the official internet portal of the local reserves unit gives the Asgaard contact address.

Much Less Noticed

The proximity between private security companies and official repressive state organs reflects the interests with which Berlin's planers are carefully observing the development of the private industry of repression. The Federal College for Security Studies, in particular, which sees itself as the hub of the German "strategic community,"[9] has for several years been closely observing the "privatization of the security sector". Its President, Ret. Lt. Gen. Kersten Lahl, praised, as usual, the advantages of the privatization of warfare,[10] which not only provides more cost efficiency and greater flexibility, but also a much more discrete management in regards to the mercenaries. "In democratic societies each military engagement is (...) very controversially discussed and (...) eyed with suspicion" according to Lahl. The president of the college considers that "the activities of private companies" are comparatively "much less noticed." "In this way, the political structures will be relieved of an element of pressure in decision-making and even of some of the responsibility." Therefore private security companies are deliberately opening possibilities for military forces to be deployed in situations, where deployment of the German Bundeswehr would be politically unfeasible - such as in Somalia.

[1] Sicherheit in Somalia unter deutscher Leitung; Presse-Mitteilung der Asgaard German Security Group vom 16.12.2009
[2] Deutsche Söldner für Bürgerkrieg in Somalia; www.tagesschau.de 22.05.2010
[3] see also Interests of the Superpowers and Soldaten für Somalia
[4] United States Should Pursue New Approach to Somalia, Argues CFR Report; www.cfr.org 10.03.2010
[5] see also Expanding Periphery
[6] see also Sicherheitsberatung
[7] see also Zivil-militärische Netzwerke
[8] see also Sicherheitsberatung
[9] see also Strategic Community
[10] "Aktuell 2008". Privatisierung im Sicherheitssektor. Einführungsvortrag des Präsidenten der Bundesakademie für Sicherheitspolitik GenLt a.D. Kersten Lahl am 5. September 2008 in Berlin