A mercenary is, by definition in wordIQ online dictionary, "a soldier who fights for money, regardless of ideological,national or political consideration" For a far lengthier, if more legally correct, definition, see http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Mercenary 54mm callan
This gives the definition as stated in Article 47 of the Geneva Convention. Another, possibly more accurate, description, is that it is, arguably, the second oldest profession. Some of our readership would no doubt substitute that of "spy." (If you don't know what the first oldest profession is, you really should get out more!) All through history, governments and nation states have employed non nationals (i.e. foreign troops) to fight for them for various reasons, be they manpower shortages, the possesion of prized military skills, or simply to get unsavoury tasks performed by others. The auxiliary troops of the Roman Legions are famous, as are the Swiss and German Landsknechts of the Middle Ages. We the British, employed Hessian (German) mercenary troops in the American War of Independence, and the Scottish Rebellions.
The Finnish mercenaries who, during the last war (39-45 in case anyone has lost count!) fought as pure contract troops, displaying more professional skill and judgement than their employers when they went home, having declined to renew their contracts.
Our own Gurkhas I would hardly class as mercenaries, as I believe that these fine troops have bought their British nationality many times over with their blood and loyalty over their long and faithful years of service with our armed forces
.Col Callan aka Costas Georgiou was a Cypriot national and former Pte in The 1st Bn of the Parachute Regiment who was dishonourable discharged. In 1975 he was one of the original mercenaries recruited by John Banksd to fight with Holden Roberto’s FNLA in northern Angola against the Soviet backed MPLA forces.
In a n early operation Georgio ana few other mercenaries and FNLA troops ambushed a large column of MPLA troops and armoured killing some 60 IIRC and destroying several T-34s and other AFVs.
Roberto was so impressed he supposedly promoted Georgion who called himself Callan to Colonel on the spot and made him the commander of the mercenary contingent. Another mercenary was sent back to England with orders top recruit a battalion of Brits.
Callan while brave and most likely a competant solider may have lacked leadership training or skills but we wern't there so its wrong to judge. The second continent of mercenaries did include some professional soldiers was mostly made up of WALTs and wannabes (could have recruited from the Internet if it had existed then). The results were obvious.
The MPLA eventually triumphed ( with massive Cuban and Soviet assistance) and several of mercenaries unlucky enough to have not left Northern Angola including Callan were captured, tried and executed.