June 16, 2004 – The US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has awarded a $293 million security contract to a British company led by a former commando who has been investigated for arms smuggling and has long been in favor of using private mercenaries to intervene in civil wars on behalf of mining, oil and gas interests. The contract is the largest of its type awarded by the CPAâ€™s Program Management Office (PMO), effectively making Aegis Defense Services, a company run by former British commando Tim Spicer, the worldâ€™s largest private army. Aegis will provide armed bodyguards for PMO employees and high-level staff of companies that are running the oil and gas fields, electricity, and water services in Iraq. The "cost-plus" contract also calls on the company to coordinate security operations for the coalition throughout Iraq with thousands of other private contractors.
Spicer has a long history of leading private armies in civil wars, according to CorpWatch. In 1998, a company run by Spicer, was reportedly contracted to sell 30 tons of arms to the forces of the former leader of Sierra Leone, in violation of a UN arms embargo. The year before, Spicer was involved in a civil war in Papua New Guinea during which Sandline was reportedly paid $36 million to battle local citizens who had shut down a profitable copper mine to protest environmental damage it had caused and to assert their case for independence.