General Question

rojo's avatar

Why do we not hire our military out to other countries?

Asked by rojo (24179points) October 31st, 2012

The debate in Washington never seems to involve reducing the military. Even discussions about reducing the military budget do not actually talk about cutting it, only reducing the size of the increase.
So, if we do not seem to think we can reduce the size of our armed forces why not rent them out?
Why be the worlds policeman for free?
Pay us to pull your ass out of the fire or burn in hell, your choice.

We can continue to support them until they get on their feet and as they bring in more money, we can reduce the amount that we invest in them until we reach a point where they are self-sustaining! And, if we can reach that point, then maybe they can actually produce a surplus and help support the society that supported them.

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27 Answers

tedd's avatar

Not sure if serious…..

It could cause some pretty drastic conflicts of interest, pull us into wars/conflicts we don’t want to be involved in, could cost us American lives for un-important reasons, etc, etc, etc.

elbanditoroso's avatar

We do. What do you think we are doing in Korea, Saudia Arabia, Japan, Germany, Israel, and so on.

We help defend those countries in exchange for oil, commerce, their friendship, etc.

tedd's avatar

@elbanditoroso I think he means more of a direct “you give us money, we give you military” mercenary-like idea.

Nullo's avatar

We do, sorta. We provide a lot of the U.N.‘s meager backbone We just don’t get paid for it.

marinelife's avatar

Because then they would be dying for money.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’d like to see the US charge other countries for using the Global Positioning System they all enjoy at our expense. I can assure you if China had put those satellites up there, everyone who wanted to use them would have to pay a subscription fee or else they’d get a scrambled or reduced accuracy signal.
At the very least we should charge a fee for foreign made GPS units sold here. Americans paid billions for the R&D, billions more for the satellites. and are continuing to pay for the maintenance. China, Korea and Taiwan are making billions by producing and selling commercial units for use all over the world. We need to fix that.

Mamradpivo's avatar

I’m pretty sure we already do. We provide soldiers and bases to countries all over the world in exchange for ‘stability.’ See: Saudi Arabia, Germany, Japan.

ucme's avatar

Because ours are far more efficient.

majorrich's avatar

OK. A Chinese Army sporting Chinese copies of M-16’s. Failure rate of weapons goes way up. Tactically, the Chinese are pretty predictable, easy prey, then inferior quality cloned weapons.Their only advantage is superior numbers. The biggest strength of the US Army is our unpredictability. Trained officers reacting to and improvising in situ to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities.

Blackberry's avatar

The military (at least the navy from my current knowledge) is trimming itself, although the cuts are very minute.

The navy has a goal that is currently active, to reduce its members by about 1 percent….lol. They enacted measures to kick people out for things like harshers physical standards, harshers performance standards etc. A group of about 20 people were kicked out of one job rating in VA, so they’re sending more people over there to cover the loss of people. It’s a slow process, reducing the military. If you reduce the military, you redice the livelihood of people so it’s a sensitiv e subject.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

The way the US military is deployed indirectly makes money for the US as it is. Direct mercantile action would confer no benefits over and above their existing action.

It is no secret that the US government primarily acts in the interests of business. After US military action destroyed Iraq, US engineering companies stepped up to rebuild the country. Similar principles apply to the presence of US special forces troops in Burundi, Uganda, and the DRC. In Latin America, the US has funded the military and some paramilitary groups in various countries, who then squash any resistance to the expansion of US business operations, such as that of Chevron. The presence of the US Navy around the Persian Gulf region also works to artificially shape oil prices.

Basically if the US was to hire out its military as you suggest, it would overtly state what is covertly acknowledged today – that young men and women who sign up for the US military are being sent to kill and die for the sake of economics.

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Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@rojo I so agree with your cynical view of our political system. I don’t think you are really suggesting that we become mercenaries, but I do agree that we should not be pulling everybody else’s ass out of the fire. Maybe other countries would be less likely to get their ass IN the fire if we weren’t right there to pull them out – at our expense!

I don’t see what cutting the military has to do with it – my opinion is that we could bring them home from foreign wars and put them to work defending our own borders. That way there would be no loss of military jobs.

rojo's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh My, and your, money paid to train, arm and support the military then we release them and some “free market” group like Blackwater or whatever they are calling themselves this week picks them up and markets them. Why should we not get a cut directly?

Nullo's avatar

@rojo All that leaves the military are people and their training, not their gear nor infrastructure or any of the rest. It’s like when you learn a skill set for a job, and take it to another job.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@rojo I think a better way to deal with that issue is to ban civilian ownership and use of military hardware. Blackwater would be sunk without its C130s and M16s. Although in the US, so I’ve been told, it is possible to buy a .50 cal sniper rifle over the counter, so such a ban probably isn’t workable in the States. I think the moral concerns are far greater than economic concerns though. Already the lines between a defence force and an imperialist offensive military have been blurred, but hiring our brave troops out as mercenaries most certainly crosses that line. I strongly believe our military should not cross the borders of our country unless we are under direct threat of invasion. I wish the US would do the same.

@Skaggfacemutt I would argue that the US has never helped any country militarily or economically out of pure altruism. Agreeing to US intervention is a deal with the devil, not some romantic superhero-falls-in-love-with-damsel-in-distress blockbuster.

Nullo's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Blackwater Not unworkable. Unconstitutional. The United States guarantees its citizens the private ownership of firearms, for defense (originally, the army would be made up of militia units), for hunting, and as a final, desperate check on an out-of-control government.
That said, it’s not like you can own machine guns in any sort of practical sense – they’re old, and ludicrously expensive to buy and use, and it is illegal to sell newer (post-1986, I think) ones to the American public. Tanks may not even be buyable, and military-issue explosives are unavailable.

“Sniper rifle” is a job description, as far as firearms are concerned, rather than referring to kind of gun. Any deer rifle has the same characteristics of a “sniper rifle,” because people and wild animals aren’t that different from one another
THe term is only good for fear-mongering.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Nullo There used to be a ban on assault rifles in the US until Bush let it lapse. As for my reference to the “sniper rifle”, I was referring to the Barrett M82 – I don’t believe this weapon has any hunting application, since it is primarily designed as an anti-materiel weapon. I do not think it would be unconstitutional, because although a right to bear arms is guaranteed, the nature of those arms is not specified. Banning military grade hardware while allowing access to sport rifles and pistols should be legally possible, although not likely thanks to the degree of influence held by the NRA. But then I am neither an expert on guns (largely thanks to the strict laws here) or US law.

Nullo's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh The ban was on “assault weapons,” a manufactured term, not assault rifles. It banned some arms by name, and certain cosmetic features that looked or sounded dangerous, like barrel shrouds (which protect your hands from a hot barrel). It was passed by an ignorant, paranoid Congress. (There are a couple of videos where Wayne LaPierre attacks CNN on this, and the network’s retraction of their previous statements. Good watching.)

The standard muzzle-loader shoots a .50cal slug, with variable quantities of propellant, you know. The Barrett just does that in semiauto, and is crazy heavy and expensive.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Nullo Thanks for the information. I think we have strayed off the point and into technicalities though. My point is simply that legislative restrictions on corporate mercenary companies such as Blackwater would be a more effective way of dealing with the issue at hand than hiring out the military to take on the mercenary role. Unfortunately Western governments are increasingly relying on mercenaries though, so I don’t see this happening any time soon.

Nullo's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh I’m not sure I follow your meaning. Are you saying that we should stop using mercenaries to save money (since this is about money), or that we should regulate mercenary companies to an unspecified end?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Nullo The OP seems to be primarily concerned with leaking highly trained troops to mercenary companies, which is a perceived waste of tax money. My point is that if it is impossible for effective mercenary companies to operate in a country, that country will better hold on to their more experienced soldiers. Of course my opposition to mercenaries as a matter of principle colours my response, but unfortunately I cannot separate the two issues in my mind.

majorrich's avatar

But the Barrett is way more satisfying to shoot than the muzzle loader. Especially Black or White tips. Almost enough to make it worth humping the extra weight. The most satisfying is watching a Groundhog disappear through a spotting scope when it gets hit by a .50 Bmg.

oratio's avatar


One could argue that foreign companies should pay a license fee to the US, to be allowed to make and sell devices using the GPS signals. If even possible, I think that’d be counter productive, and I think that “at our expense” is a bit much. The cost and function of the system is what it is whether non-americans use it or not.

You might be aware of this but the american GPS isn’t the only GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), but it was the first one to become open to the public. Many new devices are GLONASS (Russia) capable, for example the iPhone 4S.

I suspect that devices will continue to be called GPS whatever GNSS’ they are using, as I think it is understood in the public mind as ‘satellite navigation’ rather than one of several GNSS’.

The Chinese have a GNSS called Beidou (the Big Dipper), and is in the process of deploying a new system called Compass. The EU is also deploying a European GNSS called Galileo, and India and Japan are deploying regional GNSS’ to be used with GNSS’ for greater precision and as a military fail safe. By the end of this decade we will have four GNSS’ and a couple of regional ones.

It seems as if all these systems are open to civilian devices, and that they can be used synchronously for greater precision. Together with governmental and commercial ‘GNSS augmentation’ we seem to be apporoaching a global navigation down to the centimeter level. The global civilian possibilities and applications for mankind are incredible.

One other exciting aspect with the improved GNSS’ is that they will be able to send signals back to devices in case of a distress, and I’ve understood that for example many Chinese fishers are using their satnav system to send text messages to their families while at sea. Greatly needed and appreciated in the worlds biggest fishing fleet.

I think one might keep in mind that these are – with the exception of the EU GNSS Galileo – all military systems and no civilian have a special right to use them just because they pay taxes, american or not. Most military systems is not accessible to civilians. In order for American civilians to use the GPS, it must be open to everyone.

Them being military systems is of course the reason for why there are increasing GNSS’ deployed, that the GPS will be removed or jammed for everyone except the US military and associates in conflict situations. I suspect that the Brazilians and USAN will come up with their own GNSS in time.


I can’t see that a suggestion for that countries would be paying the US for keeping bases that the US itself choses to keep there or conduct operations to support it’s own interests, would carry very convincing arguments.

rojo's avatar

@oratio did not mean that they should do that (pay for bases that we, for some reason feel are necessary).
What I had in mind was being hired to fight their wars/conflicts. For example, the Syrians who are fighting their gov. could hire a battalion or two. Or maybe the Afghans might want to hire our drone units after we leave. Morocco is having trouble in its western provinces that might could benefit from some of our special ops units. The Palestinians might be interested in getting us to guard their Gaza from Israel.
Just saying that if we did it for cash we could take out all the political posturing. Of course, as @majorrich pointed out, the Chinese could do it cheaper so we would probably end up outsourcing it anyway.

oratio's avatar

@rojo I just don’t think that American soldiers would sign up on their lives being for sale, and I think those units would have to be volunteers. There are plenty of mercenaries and war tourists out there to do that.

I also think that the US would compromise integrity and lose credit and political currency if it were to do that. I don’t think there are any shortcuts to uphold a superpower with full spectrum capability. It’s just expensive.

But I think it goes without saying that no military power in the world engages other countries sovereign territory and military forces unless it is of the interest of the engaging country. I don’t think that the US military is explicitly out there to hunt bad guys and right wrongs, but upholding it’s presence and influence as the world’s sole superpower, often referred to as Pax Americana.

But I am not saying that the US uses the military solely for economic interest. All things considered, I believe that Pax Americana has kept world peace in the black.

But I think that the “Asian century” are changing priorities. American focus on Asia with troop movements from Europe to the South East Asian region reflects a global pivot change.

I believe that if America wants to share the cost of it’s military expenses it needs stronger and more active allies, but shared responsibilities also means a step back on the global arena. Europe is the obvious partner, but for that to happen Europe needs a refurbished common security policy.

But I think that the US must pursue that, as Europe – to a large extent – is content with the US subsidizing it’s security. America has also previously opposed any change to the NATO cooperation or any exclusive European duplication. At the moment, only the UK and France really live up to their obligations. The European Union does however have little political will and momentum to deepen cooperation at the moment in the ongoing crisis.

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