By Deborah Sherwood
REDUNDANT British squaddies are in for a bonanza payday as mercenaries in war-torn Africa.
Thousands of Our Boys facing the dole in government cutbacks are being offered lucrative contracts on the frontline fighting al-Qaida extremists.
The rise in vacancies comes after the In Amenas gas plant hostage siege in Algeria last month in which 39 captives were killed.
Companies based in Africa have ordered major security reviews since then and extra mercenaries are already being fl own in to top up numbers.
The guns for hire are being offered £30,000 to £40,000 a year, with extra cash for working in remote areas protecting multimillion-pound facilities from terrorists.
More than 20,000 Brit troops are facing redundancy as part of government cuts.
Top of the hiring list are infantry and signallers with experience in combat and communications, who could get vital information to the outside world in the event of a siege.
A Whitehall source said major security firms were seeking permission to let troops know about the posts in Algeria, Mali and north Africa by including their details in official MoD redundancy packages.
“They want to circulate the jobs that are available and let the guys know about the package as soon as possible,” said the insider.
“They could take out adverts but this way they can get in first and pick the best men from the regiments they want.
“Because they are still serving, the firms have to go through the Ministry of Defence.”
Multi-million pound contracts are also being offered in Britain to ex-Special Forces, former MI5 and MI6 staff.
Among the prospective hirings are retired officers Brigadier Ed Butler – one-time head of British troops in Afghanistan – and Colonel Tim Collins, the former British commander in Iraq, who both have interests in the private security world.
Britain’s MI6 is keeping a close watch on Islamic extremist organisation Boko Haram in Nigeria, which has already carried out a number of killings and is now threatening British and other Western sites in Africa.