Mercenaries as proxies for direct US military involvement

That the US is overtly involved in so many wars and military actions around the world is well known, though many people might be surprised at the large numbers of bases and small scale military operations that are going on. Less well known are the covert operations run by the CIA and the more covert branches of the military. Even less well known are those where the US employs mercenaries, usually former US military personnel, to achieve its goals of propping up unsavory leaders or deposing those whom the US dislikes. Matthew Cole and Kim Ives write about a botched mercenary operation to funnel money and arms in support of embattled Haitian president Jovenel Moïse.

MOST OF THE Americans arrived in Port-au-Prince from the U.S. by private jet early on the morning of February 16. They’d packed the eight-passenger charter plane with a stockpile of semiautomatic rifles, handguns, Kevlar bulletproof vests, and knives. Most had been paid already: $10,000 each up front, with another $20,000 promised to each man after they finished the job.

A trio of politically connected Haitians greeted the Americans when their plane landed around 5 a.m. An aide to embattled Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and two other regime-friendly Haitians whisked them through the country’s biggest airport, avoiding customs and immigration agents, who had not yet reported for work.

The American team included two former Navy SEALs, a former Blackwater-trained contractor, and two Serbian mercenaries who lived in the U.S. Their leader, a 52-year-old former Marine C-130 pilot named Kent Kroeker, had told his men that this secret operation had been requested and approved by Moïse himself. The Haitian president’s emissaries had told Kroeker that the mission would involve escorting the presidential aide, Fritz Jean-Louis, to the Haitian central bank, where he’d electronically transfer $80 million from a government oil fund to a second account controlled solely by the president. In the process, the Haitians told the Americans, they’d be preserving democracy in Haiti.

But the plan went awry when a security guard at the central bank became suspicious and alerted the police who arrested the conspirators.

That the US government was involved can be seen from the fact that the US state department quickly intervened to secure the release of the Americans who were whisked out of the country and not charged with gun running and other crimes even though the Haitians provided the US with the serial numbers of all the weapons that they had brought with them.

No wonder the Pentagon and CIA have these vast slush funds.


  1. jrkrideau says

    I don’t know if one would technically call the Contras mercenaries but they were paid and armed by the USA with Elliot Abrams as paymaster and armorer-in-chief.

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