Yemen is one of the many places in the world where the United States is kinda-sorta-really-but-not-really fighting a war—against radical Islam, or radical jihadism, or whatever you choose to call this amorphous ideological menace. To supplement the barrage of remote-controlled drone strikes it’s already directing against the country, the Pentagon has been supporting the similarly indiscrimate bombing campaign being conducted by Saudi Arabia.
One of the states in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is the United Arab Emirates. According to a New York Times investigation published on Wednesday, the UAE has secretly contributed a Latin American mercenary troupe to the assembled ground forces in the country. The bulk of these soldiers-for-hire are former members of the Colombian military, which has received more U.S. military aid and training in the past two decades than any country outside the greater Middle East. It also has become a premiere surrogate trainer of other military and police forces the U.S. wants to work with but can’t, whether due to human rights concerns or budgetary restraints.
The Times calls this “volatile” militarized gig economy “a glimpse into the future of war.” Perhaps, a decade from now, there’ll be an app for that.