Roland Bartetzko, former German Army Paratrooper, Croatian Defense Council, Kosovo Liberation Army
During my time with the Croatian Defense Council in the Bosnian war we were facing an enemy that had some former British SAS soldiers in its ranks.
When the war between Croats and Bosnians started in 1993 most foreign volunteers joined the Croats, but a few decided to try their luck on the Bosnian side. There were not many of them, maybe just a handful or even less, mostly working as instructors or advisors, but because of them we completely had to change our routines and tactics.
Especially at night we were much more alerted. The war in Bosnia had a routine: Enemy artillery always started shooting in the afternoon when it was less hot. There usually were no night attacks or any other surprises.
But with the British on the other side things changed: We got attacked at night and in the early morning hours. The enemy improved its defense positions and we suffered a lot more casualties.
There was also a psychological side to it:
When you know that in front of you are former SAS soldiers, things look much different and you better keep your eyes and ears open.
In the end these guys were fighting for a cause they believed in, just like I did, so it’s not fair to call them “mercenaries.” They were professional soldiers and really had a big impact.
They had our respect.
Of course, facing ex-SAS mercenaries is going to be different than facing, say, Columbian troopers (fairly common in Yemen a few years ago), or Cuban ‘advisors’, or Gurkas.
And indeed, some mercenaries are choosy for who they work for: others, not so much.