A mercenary is a soldier who fights for any faction in exchange for a desirable amount of money. Essentially, he is a person who takes part in an armed conflict, who is not a national or a party to the conflict, and is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain.

In the 20th century, mercenaries have been mostly involved in conflicts on the continent of Africa and in several cases brought about a swift end to bloody civil war by comprehensively defeating the rebel forces. There have been a number of unsavory incidents in the brushfire wars of Africa, some involving recruitment of inexperienced and poorly trained European and American men "looking for adventure" and thrusting them into combat situations where they would not survive to get paid. However, there were also a number of professional mercenary soldiers, many from South Africa, who were highly valued for their knowledge and implementation of tactics, as well as prowess in combat.

In the modern age, mercenary soldiers of every description have fought all over the world, including in Congo, Biafra, Angola, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Papua New Guinea, and Libya. A number of professional mercenary veterans began to form companies out of their freelance units, getting enough money to amass into a business corporation which provided mercenary services. South African and British mercenaries subsequently coined the term 'Private Military Company' to describe mercenary corporations.

The Private Military Company (PMC) is now the contemporary strand of the mercenary trade, providing logistics support, soldiers (Private Military Contractors), military training, and other services.

In Arma II: Private Military CompanyEdit

  • On numerous occasions, ION, Incorporated has been identified as being plagued by a negative association of mercenaries, particularly when the company was still known as "Black Element".
  • An American sergeant at Checkpoint: Charlie during the "Transportation" mission of the game refers to three ION operatives, including Brian Frost, as mercenaries. This incenses Patrick Dixon's rage and prompts him to order Frost to open fire on the rude sergeant.
  • Mark Reynolds explicitly argues that ION personnel are not mercenaries on the basis that they can only guard their clients and provide security, not fight a war for them. Brian Frost complains several times during the mission that sometimes ION personnel still must carry out duties which could be branded as mercenary-type military work, telling Reynolds, "We're here to protect [the client], not fight a bloody war. We've already lost good men."
  • Brian Frost, when confronted with the prospect of fighting the New Takistani Army, calls them a joke and observes that they are mainly comprised of ragtag mercenaries. Patrick Dixon, upon hearing this, murmurs, "Sweet Irony."