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25 Mercenary Armies Recruited By The CIA

Posted by , Updated on August 16, 2014

Mercenary armies have been fixtures in most international armed conflicts. They can be used by both sides of the opposing parties as long as they are properly compensated for their ‘efforts’. However, what is so mind-boggling is the fact that they are part of the overt and covert operations of the CIA. Here are 25 mercenary armies recruited by the CIA in its efforts to provide military support to countries in need.
25

Volunteer Army, 1917-1918

Volunteer Army, 1917-1918

Even before the Cold War, the United States was open about its hostility to the Bolsheviks of Soviet Russia. During the Red Revolution (Bolshevik revolution) of 1917, the U.S. did not only withdraw its funding for Russia but also greatly opposed the British and French plan to include them as allies against Germany in 1918. To make matters worse, they openly supported the Volunteer Army or the anti-Bolshevik White Army in South Russia not only with funding but with troops as well. Comprising of Cossacks, nobles, volunteers, and peasants; their number grew from 64,000 to 150,000 and were better supplied than their Red counterpart. However, they were often a disordered and a lawless lot.

24

Ukrainian Partisans, 1945-1952

Ukrainian Partisans, 1945-1952

A large and well-organized partisan army, they were trained and aerially supplied by the CIA to engage in a series of guerrilla conflicts against Nazi Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union during World War II. They began as a resistance group with the goal to establish a united independent national state in the Ukrainian territory but later on developed into a guerrilla army making sporadic attacks against their enemies. The group came to an end in 1952 when the Soviet Union purged their leaders with the use of infiltration and espionage.

23

Syrian Coup d’état, 1949

Syrian Coup d’état, 1949

The March 1949 Syrian coup d’état led by the Army Chief of Staff Husni al-Za’im has not only ended the initial period of civilian rule, but also ushered in the independent republic of Syria. There were reports that the CIA funded and provided personnel in Za’im’s attempt to seize power, though they both vehemently denied it. However, once in power, Za’im made several key decisions that benefited the United States including the approval of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline (TAPLINE), which transports Saudi Arabian oil to Mediterranean ports and improved relations with Israel and Turkey, two allies of the US in the region.

22

Chinese Brigade in Burma, 1950

Chinese Brigade in Burma, 1950

After the Second Sino-Japanese War, the People’s Liberation Army broke away from the National Revolutionary Army, which gained a number of warlords and provincial armies after their leaders joined the Kuomintang. They were then used by the CIA to fight Red China after the Burma Campaign, where they had an armored battalion equipped with Sherman tanks as an aid to the Nationalist Chinese regime. However, the Chinese brigade found it more profitable to monopolize the opium trade than fighting for the CIA.

21

Khamba Horsemen, 1950-1970

Khamba Horsemen, 1950-1970

During the 1950s Chinese invasion of Tibet, the United States provided support by training several groups of Khampa fighters in modern warfare at Camp Hale in Colorado and transported them back to Tibet with funding and supplies. These fierce warriors, who supported the Dalai Lama until his exile in 1959, had 14,000 fighters at its peak and fought the battle until 1970. There were reports that they were given an annual subsidy of $180,000 to spend on training volunteers and to pay for the guerrilla operations against the Chinese.


20

Guatemalan Red Army, 1954

Guatemalan Red Army, 1954

An overt operation of the CIA, the Guatemalan coup d’état of 1954 was a paramilitary invasion of the anti-Communist army of liberation to depose President Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán with Operation: PBSUCCESS. Mercenary personnel have conducted air raids against the Guatemalan military targets and cities, which stemmed from the CIA’s mistaken perception that the nationalization of the sequestered 400,000 acres United Fruit banana plantation was influenced by the communist Guatemalan Labor Party.

19

Sumatran Rebels, 1958

Sumatran Rebels, 1958

Sukarno’s reign has faced threats to its legitimacy since its beginning in 1956. However, the situation worsened in 1958 when the rebels against Sukarno’s regime received covert aids due to their anti-communist rhetoric. They were defeated, however, with the last guerrilla bands surrendering on August 1961.

18

Bay of Pigs Invasion Force, 1960

Bay of Pigs Invasion Force, 1960

The Eisenhower and Kennedy government-sanctioned move for the CIA operatives to recruit 1,500 Cuban refugees living in Miami in 1960 was due to their attempt to overthrow the Cuban government (led by Fidel Castro). This small army, which landed in Cuba on April 19, 1961, was accompanied by B-26 bombers. However, they were defeated by the Cuban armed forces led by Castro within three days due to the ill-conceived and poorly-planned operation.

17

Peruvian Regiment, mid-1960s

Peruvian Regiment, mid-1960s

When the government of Peru sought the help of the United States to quell the guerrilla forces who were creating havoc in the eastern Amazonian provinces in the mid-1960′s, the CIA responded by fortifying the camp in the area. Moreover, they sought the help of the Green Beret personnel from the US Army to train local Peruvians. This elite unit was later disbanded for fear that they might stage a coup against the government.

16

Nung Mercenaries, 1961

Nung Mercenaries, 1961

Even before the CIA was formed, its predecessor OSS had already been conducting covert operations in Thailand and were behind the assassination of then-President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. However, in 1961, they trained the Chinese people living in the hills of Vietnam, who became known as the Nung mercenaries, to become part of the Civilian Irregular Defense Groups in South Central Highlands, a component of the ‘Mike Force.’ The CIDGs later became the Vietnamese Rangers.

15

L’armee Clandestine, 1962

L’armee Clandestine, 1962

A paramilitary organization, it was set up by the CIA to operate in the secret war from 1962 to 1975 in Laos against the communist Pathet Lao forces. Composed of 30,000 Meo tribesmen and led by Lao General Vang Pao, they were trained by 40 to 50 CIA operatives in modern warfare. They were also paid and supplied by the CIA, though their numbers dwindled to just 10,000 refugees by 1975, which all fled to Thailand.

14

Congo Mercenary Force, 1964

Congo Mercenary Force, 1964

The Congo Crisis from 1960 to 1966 was a period of turmoil that started with the country’s independence from Belgium and ended with the seizing of power of Joseph Mobutu. In 1964, the CIA imported some European mercenaries and Cuban pilots to fly B-26 bombers as back up to pro-Western leaders Cyril Adoula and Joseph Mobutu. The crisis resulted in the death of 100,000 people, the assassination of then-Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and a Cold War proxy battle between US and the Soviet Union.

13

Brazil Coup d’etat, 1964

Brazil Coup d’etat, 1964

When the democratically-elected government of President João Goulart was overthrown on March 30, 1964, declassified transcripts of the communication between President Lyndon B. Johnson and the US Ambassador in Brazil, confirmed the CIA’s hand in the coup. In the said transcript, President Johnson was quoted to have had authorized support of ‘logistical materials’ to be given to the rebelling Brazilian army generals as part of Operation: Brother Sam. He also acknowledged in the same transcript, CIA covert operations and funding for pro-democracy street rallies, armed forces, friendly labor, student groups, and other acts of protest.

12

Salvadoran Death Squads, 1964-1984

Salvadoran Death Squads, 1964-1984

When President Ronald Reagan was asked by the US congress to provide a progress report every six months on the human rights situation during the civil war in El Salvador as a condition for further military aid, it was discovered that as far back as 1964, the CIA had been helping the two paramilitary intelligence networks, ORDEN and ANSESAL, in their operations as death squads. Millions of dollars was spent to finance, train, and provide automatic weapons and surveillance techniques to the Salvadoran Army, which was responsible for 40,000 killings in El Salvador from 1980 to 1982.

11

The Cambodian Coup, 1970

The Cambodian Coup, 1970

The Cambodian coup in March 1970 was the culmination of the over 15-years attempt of the CIA to depose Cambodia’s left-leaning Prince, Norodom Sihanouk. The CIA formed the anti-Sihanouk Kampuchea Khmer Krom (KKK), which were trained by the Green Berets and armed with US weapons. They overran the capital of Phnom Penh, took control of the government and placed Cambodia under the hands of Lon Nol, who later on dispatched soldiers to murder tens of thousands of civilians.

10

Kurd Rebels, 1974

Kurd Rebels, 1974

The Second Kurdish-Iraqi war from 1974 to 1975 was the result of the first war in 1961 to 1970 when the 1970 peace plan for Kurdish autonomy failed to be implemented in 1974. At which time, the CIA moved to eastern Iraq to organize and supply the Kurds in the area, who were fighting against the pro-Soviet Ba’athist Iraqi government. The Kurdish attempt for a symmetric warfare against the Iraqi army failed after the CIA withdrew its support when the Iranian-Iraqi settlement was reached. The Kurds rebels were crushed by the Iraqi army due to their lack of advanced and heavy weaponry.

9

Angola Mercenary Force, 1975

Angola Mercenary Force, 1975

After years of bloody fighting and civil unrest in Angola, Portugal relinquished its claim on the last of its African colonies leaving it to anyone who will control the capital city of Luanda on November 11, 1975. Months before the deadline, three groups stood out to claim it including the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Liberation Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA). When it looked like the Marxist MPLA was winning over the two, the CIA decided to intervene secretly by funding the Angolan operation with over $30 million dollars, to buy arms and to pay French and South African mercenaries to aid UNITA and FNLA in their fight. However, this proved futile, as the MPLA won and still rules the country today.

8

Rapid Deployment Force, 1980

Rapid Deployment Force, 1980

Since the 1970s, proxy wars between the United States and the Soviet Union were happening in Turkey with the Turkish military allowing it to escalate to adopt a strategy of tension. However, this has abruptly ended with the Turkish coup d’état in 1980 where 50 people were executed and 500,000 arrested (who later died in prison). A day before the actual coup on September 12, 1980, 3,000 troops of well-trained RDF started the maneuver Anvil Express on Turkish soil. This left Turkey under the Turkish Armed Forces rule until democracy was restored three years later.

7

Nicaraguan Contras, 1981

Nicaraguan Contras, 1981

Part of the Reagan Doctrine (which provides overt and covert aids to anti-communist guerrillas and resistance movements against Soviet-backed governments), President Ronald Reagan signed a top secret National Security Directive on November 23, 1981, authorizing the CIA to spend $19 million dollars to recruit and support the Contras. However, the congress passed the Boland Amendment, which prohibited CIA from giving aids to the Contras, this led the CIA and the Contras to become actively involved in drug smuggling for alternate funding.

6

EDSA People Power Revolution, 1986

EDSA People Power Revolution, 1986

Though the CIA always backed President Ferdinand Marcos during his reign from 1965 to 1986, they also played a significant part in pressuring him to step down peacefully. Their support transferred to the Partido ng Lakas ng Tao and the Edsa Shrine Movement, which led to the peaceful transition to democracy where Corazon Aquino’s rise to power and the People Power Revolution marked the return of democracy and the end of the martial rule.

5

Haitian Coup Thugs (FRAPH), 1991-1994

Haitian Coup Thugs (FRAPH), 1991-1994

Since 1988, the CIA had been intervening with Haiti’s election to undermine the campaign of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. However, it was only three years later on September 29, 1991 that they were able to overthrown him in a bloody coup with the CIA-led airborne invasion Operation: Uphold Democracy, which had a death toll of 4,000 civilians. The leaders of the said coup later admitted that they were on the CIA payroll, including the notorious Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, the head of Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH) which were a group of thugs known for their brutal killings. The CIA also created the Haitian Intelligence Service (HIS) supposedly to combat drugs, but functioned as an assassination and intimidation squad during the coup.

4

Afghan Mujaheedin, 2001

Afghan Mujaheedin, 2001

CIA covert support for the groups fighting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan stopped in 1987 when the Soviets were forced to withdraw their forces. After which, Afghanistan collapsed into a five-year civil war following the rise to power of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. After the terrorist attacks in 2001, the CIA’s Special Activities Division were the first US forces to enter Afghanistan to organize the Afghan Northern Alliance in order to become part of a large-scale military operation along with the US Army Special Forces to overthrow the Taliban.

3

Venezuelan Coup Attempt, 2002

Venezuelan Coup Attempt, 2002

During the Venezuelan military leaders’ coup on April 11, 2002 to overthrow the democratically-elected left-wing presidency of Hugo Chavez, there was a report that it was organized by the CIA and that they provided Special Operations Group personnel, (headed by a lieutenant colonel from Fort Bragg, North Carolina) to help the military leaders organize their coup against Chavez. However, it collapsed after two days after thousands of demonstrators took to the street with some military units joining in to protest it.

2

Somalia Militia, 2006-2007

Somalia Militia, 2006-2007

The United States has had an ongoing interest in Somalia for decades now, but it was not until 2006 that the CIA began actively funding the coalition of the anti-Islamic warlords. Hundreds of thousands of dollars had been funneled to the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism against the Islamic Court Union. Though the ICU was credited for restoring a semblance of peace, concerns have been raised about their treatment of women and their strict compliance and interpretations of the Islamic Shari’ah law.

1

Syrian Uprising, 2012

Syrian Uprising, 2012

The Syrian civil war started on March 15, 2011 with widespread demonstrations seeking to oust the Syrian Ba’ath Party. There is an ongoing armed conflict between the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian government, which was a part of the wider Middle Eastern protest movement called ‘Arab Spring.’ It was reported that in 2012, President Barack Obama had authorized the CIA to support the regime change of President Basher al-Assad to end the four decades Ba’ath party rule.

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