Killer NGOs: Not Your Average Community Service Organization

Killers Sans Frontieres?


At first I thought it might be a joke or at least a painful oxymoron. “Killer” and “NGO” are generally not two words one usually finds in proximity. But when you read Col. Gary Anderson’s call for the establishment of Killer NGOs in today’s Foreign Policy magazine you may never think the same about the World Wildlife Fund again.

Anderson, a retired Marine Corp officer, says that citizens of the U.S. will never support wars against terrorists that require invasion forces the size of those that invaded Normandy. Instead he proposes the funding and establishment, in places like Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc.  of small private armies that are made up of indigenous fighters, are well armed and trained, have a development component and are dedicated to eradicating terrorists organizations, yet another kind of NGO according to Anderson.

As their paymaster we will have control over them and if they go rogue then we can simply cut off their funding. Sounds simple, right?  Nothing can go wrong with a plan like that.

What distinguishes a Killer NGO from a plain old mercenary army or militia is their professionalism and their development arm. What distinguishes them from the national army of whichever country we are speaking of is their willingness to take on bad guys our way and not get involved in the complexities of local politics.

Personally I have a lot of problems with this kind of wordplay. It is hard enough for real NGOs to operate in these places without fear that they might be labelled a ‘killer’ by some crazed warlord. It is much better if the fighters and the healers keep a wall between themselves otherwise innocent people in conflict zones might not be able to get the help they need.

Besides we already have a global killer NGO. You can find it here.


Michael Keating

photo by: mritunjay








Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.