Guns For Hire

Monday October 9, 2006 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld
repeating Monday June 11, 2007 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld

"Business has never been so good for the modern day gunslinger". Sam Kiley, war correspondent

Never before have Britain and the U.S. relied so heavily on the use of mercenaries in fighting foreign wars. At least 30,000 hired guns are now on the payrolls of the Western Powers, training and fighting in the Middle East, from Iraq to Afghanistan. In this eye-opening documentary, veteran war correspondent Sam Kiley travels to Kabul to investigate these modern dogs of war and the impact they're having on the conflict in Afghanistan.

The business of war has enjoyed a massive boom. Primarily former soldiers, these men work for companies such as the British firm Global where they can expect to earn in one day what they made in an entire week in the army. "Three years ago Global had 25 employees, today there are around 3500; they are at the sharp end of an industry worth two billion pounds a year," Kiley explains. But who's controlling these 'guns for hire', and what impact are they having on the 'rules of war'?

Known as private security contractors, they come from the UK, Australia, Zimbabwe, the US, and Canada. Back home they're doctors, paramedics, and laborers. Unable to settle into civilian life, these private soldiers seek money and adventure, and now find themselves risking suicide bomb attacks while guarding the American embassy.

Not until now has anyone been able to shine a light into this often murky world. Sam Kiley is on the trail of Jack Idema, a former US Green beret. Idema is in an Afghan jail, having been convicted of torture and running a private army. In a sequence that feels right out of a bizaare 'Heart of Darkenss' style movie, this world exclusive interview inside his 'prison', Idema tells Kiley he was a "fall guy" and had been working for the Americans. But his Afghan prison is unlike anything you'd expect. Is he a latter day Man Who Would Be King? A victim? Or the dangerous consequence of outsourcing war?

Guns for Hire is written, narrated and produced by Sam Kiley and directed by Claudio Von Planta, with Mike Smith, Sebastian Scott, and Jaquie Lawrence as the executive producers. Catherine Olsen is executive producer and senior programmer of documentaries for CBC Newsworld.

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