The 100th anniversary of the signing of the Hague Convention was on 18 October. Its many provisions included limiting the use of privately armed vessels in war. The anniversary coincided with the release of the new U.S. Maritime Strategy, consideration of U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the political and media debate over private security companies. Among these seemingly disparate events is the potential application of non-traditional forces to meet maritime missions, gaps, and challenges.
The use of private professionals is nothing new. Foreigners who served in Rome's legions were sometimes rewarded with citizenship as they are in today's U.S. military. Private soldiers plied their trade in the Middle Ages, as well as the Renaissance and post-Renaissance eras. They offered specialized services that nation- or city-states were unable or unwilling to provide as part of their standing armies.