"...Norway's bravest son But time stands still for Roland..."

The song  "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" by Warren Zevon is about  mercenaries and their involvement in the Congo War.  Mercenaries, also known as "guns for hire" or "soldier’s of fortune", are professional soldiers that fight for pay.  Mercenaries have been employed for thousands of years in the armies of foreign countries. An example of the use of mercenaries is the Hessians.  The Hessians were Germans hired by the English to help fight in the Revolutionary War.

Another example of mercenaries was during the Congo War.  In 1960 the Congo gained independence from Belgium which had controlled it since 1908. When the Congo gained independence there were many different  groups who had many ideas on how to run a country, this lead to civil war. In 1964 the French government sent a large group  of mercenary troops to help fight the rebels. In 1966 authorities found a secret training camp for mercenaries in southern France.  There were many questions about it;  What were they training the mercenaries for?  Who was paying them?  The men were almost certain they were being trained for a mission in Africa.  The leader, Thierry de Bonnay, had created his own army under the cover of a Belgium company called AmWorlde. Congo's president, Joseph Mobutu, already had about 500 mercenaries in northeastern Congo fighting rebels.  He also had the Portuguese recruiting mercenaries in Europe to be trained for fighting in Congo.

January 1996