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Why foreign troops may not be desirable

By Mathiang Jalap

In our modern times, foreign troops come into a nation wearing one of two shoes when there is war. They come either as peacekeeping forces or as troops hired by a nation in war. They come from sisterly or friendly nation to fight alongside its national army, deemed incapable of repelling the invading foreign or rebel army on its own. ‘Peacekeeping forces’ are non-combatant troops that come under a mandate of international government organizations like the UN or regional bodies like IGAD, in agreement with the host country. The mandate of these troops is protect civilian life, observe cease-fire implementation, and Monitor and maintain peace reached by warring parties. The troops are paid by the sending organization(s). ‘Hired troops’ on the other hand are combatant forces that come to support and fight alongside the national army of the hiring nation and are paid by the country that hires them. Although it is not always openly said that these troops are hired, their involvement is not for free. The military analyst of this article does not believe that a nation can risk its soldiers fighting in a foreign country for free. The terms of their hire are usually beneath the table and confidential between governments and heads of states. Their wages are directly or indirectly paid to their governments and can take different forms, including exchange for commodities like oil, gold, uranium, diamonds etc., depending on what is available in the hiring nation. Although the presence of foreign troops (both peace keeping and hired) in a country is ‘good’, there are also related negative side effects. Firstly, since the troops who come to fight alongside the national army are ‘hired’, they drain the hiring nation economically as they are paid in hard currency. The amount depends on the number of the troops and their duration of stay in the country. Secondly, reciprocal killings happen. Foreign troops that are combatant troops kill and get killed on the battle front lines. Because they are not the national army, they might kill indiscriminately, not distinguishing between who is an enemy and who are ordinary citizens. Thirdly, foreign troops in a nation might get involved in illegal and criminal activities like illegal marriages, rape, looting etc. in spite of their clear mandate and strict regulations. There is enough evidence to support this but there is not enough space to explore further here. 

As stated above (Point four), these negative activities are not to be generalized to all peacekeeping or hired forces. There are soldiers who are well disciplined and respect their mandate. But there might be a handful of soldiers who do not respect their mandate. For instance when foreign troops leave a country after 10 or 20 years, they leave behind illegal children born by daughters of the host country. This is part of the hidden price a nation pays for allowing foreign troops onto its soil. No one is an island in this world. We will always be part of the international community   and   therefore   in   need   of   foreign military interventions in times of need. Protection of civilian life by peacekeeping forces is always a mission well appreciated. The author of this article is not in any way against the presence of foreign troops in a nation but I am trying to bring into the light hat consequences there are. It is up to governments to weigh the sensitive balance of cons and pros in this matter, especially with hired troops. A typical example of hired troops in the Bible is when King Amaziah of the kingdom of Judah hired a hundred thousand soldiers from the northern kingdom of Israel for a hundred talents of silver (a heavy hard currency in our time) when he was at war with the nation of Seir. The arrangement went quite smoothly. The deal was signed, the amount was paid, and troops from Israel were dispatched and arrived in Judah. But after their arrival, God sent a prophet to tell King Amaziah that those troops are not needed and that they should return to their own country! I wish such prophets till exist today. Prophets who come with a message of peace or ho tell Mr. King or Mr. President: “Do not go to war” or “Do not bring in foreign troops”. Amaziah told the prophet that he had already paid a big and lump sum amount for the troops and that it would be a waste if the troops he brought would not fight for him and defend the kingdom of Judah. But the prophet told him that would compensate that amount. “Don’t take it back and don’t see the troops”. King Amaziah was an obedient king. He told the tired troops to return home. How many of our kings or presidents today would be obedient like King Amaziah? Many of our leader’s could just consider that prophet who came with a word from God as “a mad man who comes with nonsense”. The hired troops who ere enthusiastic and ready for battle were angered when they ere told to return home and not go to war. On their way home they destroyed and looted Judean cities along the way, killing thousands of people! Here is some of the Bible text: “Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years Amaziah called the people of Judah together and assigned them according to their families to commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds for all Judah and Benjamin. He then mustered those twenty years old or more and found that there were three 300,000 men ready for military service, able to handle the spear and shield. He also hired 100,000 fighting men from Israel for a hundred talents of silver. But a man of God came to him and said, “Oh king, these troops from Israel must not march with you,” Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?” The man of God replied, “The Lord can give you much more than that.” So Amaziah dismissed the troops who had come to him from Ephraim and sent them home. They were furious with Judah and left for home in a great rage ... The troops that Amaziah had sent back and had not allowed to take part in the war raided Judean towns from Samaria to Beth Horon. They killed three thousand people and carried off great quantities of plunder.

In this story, we see that the hired troops killed thousands of innocent civilians and looted the country they were hired to defend! Did king Amaziah know that the same troops he hired would come and kill 3,000 of his own innocent civilians and loot his own cities? These are the kind of things not always taken into consideration when bringing foreign troops into a conflict. Governments only regret later on, in the end. Sensible nations should therefore avoid bringing in combatant troops.

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