Thanks JS (not the Armchair Generalist, another JS) for sending this story on Somalia a while back (that I'm just getting to now):
U.S. hires military contractor to back peacekeeping mission in Somalia
By Chris Tomlinson
1:20 p.m. March 7, 2007
NAIROBI, Kenya – The State Department has hired a major military contractor to help equip and provide logistical support to international peacekeepers in Somalia, giving the United States a significant role in the critical mission without assigning combat forces.
DynCorp International, which also has U.S. contracts in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, will be paid $10 million to help the first peacekeeping mission in Somalia in more than 10 years.
The article continues... blah blah blah... but it concludes on an interesting note:
The United States is not the only country seeking to provide private military services in Africa.
In 2005 the Somali government signed a $50 million contract with New York-based TopCat Marine Security to help create a coast guard to protect its coast and shipping from pirates. The State Department blocked TopCat from deploying because of a U.N. arms embargo, Hassan Abshir Farah, Somalia's marine resources minister said.
Farah said his government was now discussing a deal with the Chinese government and Chinese marine security firms.
Of course the US isn't the only one offering protection, private or public, to Africa. (why the focus on private military services? Right, it's the "in topic".) DynCorp's involvement isn't special, spectacular, or really innovative. Not really interesting but noteworthy is the reason given for the death of the TopCat deal, but I won't waste my time on TopCat. If you care, see Kathryn Cramer's post on the cease-and-desist order by State to TopCat Marine or see links off my recent summary of the events around the TopCat screw-up.
What is interesting is the last sentence. The Chinese are in a full court press on the continent, as I've noted in various blog posts. While they don't care about the plight of the people, they do care about the plight of the elites. There's money to be made on fishing etc (the same fish stocks China's poaching) that China is more than happy to help the gov't protect (for a fee). Also, keep in mind the Chinese way of sealing the deal is different than that the Americans. We include lawyers and the Chinese include promises of unrelated business to sway the decision maker as necessary, sweetening the deal and ignoring details to be dealt with later. While we look over the details with lawyers, China says "Deal! We'll work out the details later."
It will be interesting to see if we see a headline with both China and Somalia in it in the near future.