Origins (17 April 1984)
Dartmouth Ventures began as the brainchild of Adrian Sackville and five other UK servicemen who had participated in the Falklands War two years earlier. At first, the proposal was for some sort of informal meeting point that six ex-servicemen suffering from PTSD could use. As the discussion unfolded over several cups of Twinings and a few servings of fish and chips, so too did the idea change – now it would be a motorcycle club of sorts. However, Adrian shot this idea down, stating that he wasn’t about to do what American veterans returning from Vietnam had done before. Instead, he proposed something that was far closer to what they had been doing previously – the formation of a private military company. Some members of the discussion were quick to object, but after a few minutes of convincing and finagling, the decision was made; from now on the six ex-servicemen, sitting around in a café on a rainy April afternoon, would meet each other in the offices of a PMC.
Founding (20 May 1984)
Work began to obtain the funding necessary for founding the PMC and obtaining basic equipment and weaponry for the firm’s contractors. Some discussion was also conducted over the naming, where upon George Vale, a member of Adrian’s squad during the Falklands conflict suggested that as the decision to create a PMC had been undertaken in a café in Dartmouth, the resulting company should be named in honour of that place. Adrian settled on the name Dartmouth Ventures, the ‘Ventures’ part seemingly a tribute to the surname of the man who had given such a novel idea for a name. Regardless, the resulting PMC would actually be located in London, something that has never been changed over the years - a small recruitment office was eventually set up in Dartmouth proper. A lottery win by one of the six founding members gave sufficient funds to purchase a quantity of firearms, ammunition, and vehicles suitable for 1000 men – a small beginning compared to the Dartmouth Ventures of today, but still enough to get the job done. After the procurement of further funding from donors, half-forgotten savings that had originally been set aside for a rainy day, and a few more spent scratch cards, there now was enough money to create the company. And so it was, after some hasty recruitment efforts, that on May 20th 1984, Dartmouth Ventures was officially open for business.
South African Border War (1984 to 1989)
Dartmouth Ventures’ first contract involved deployment to Angola and what is now known as Namibia, in order to support MPLA and SWAPO forces in the ongoing Border War against the South African Defence Force and South African Police. The majority of Dartmouth Ventures employees at this time were of an anti-apartheid sentiment, and so the contract was acted upon without hesitation. Contractors deployed to the area made sure to adopt the equipment and appearance of their MPLA and SWAPO paymasters in order to give the impression that these forces and not a British PMC were behind the operations conducted, so much so that those of Caucasian ethnicity were forced to ‘black up’. A consequence of this stealth-oriented decision was that military hardware of Soviet origin fell into Dartmouth Ventures ownership and was subsequently taken back to England by the contractors when the war, and therefore the contract, ended in 1989. SADF and SAP efforts were greatly hindered by Dartmouth Ventures operations during the five years spent in Angola and Namibia.
Low-intensity conflict in Africa (1992 to 1998)
After three years of supervising various compounds and oil workers, Dartmouth Ventures returned to Africa. This time, it conducted operations in a number of countries as opposed to just Southern Africa. The contracts awarded between 1992 and 1998 were often delivered upon in secret, but this was more to do with DV personnel being confused for other PMCs operating in the same area such as Executive Outcomes than any intentional concealment of operations. During this time, the British Army was exchanging a lot of military equipment for newer items – this meant that, through negotiation and greasing of palms, Dartmouth Ventures was able to gather a considerable amount of Cold War-era military equipment, including a considerable quantity of tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles. The PMC also managed to acquire samples of the newer pieces of equipment such as a few Challenger 2 MBTs and several SA80 weapons.
Similar palm-greasing also allowed Dartmouth Ventures to protect its London offices and Dartmouth recruitment centre with an armed contigent of its contractors (in a country where armed security is usually not allowed), and to circumvent the Firearms (Amendment)(No.2) Act 1997 and similar UK laws restricting the use and ownership of firearms. As of 2014 these mutally profitable agreements still exist, in effect meaning that Dartmouth Ventures has full rein to train its forces and store equipment on the British mainland and to use lethal force to protect its UK holdings (and Sackville and son get to stock their houses with informal arsenals in preparation for anything from the occassional thief to a full-blown acopalypse).
Yugoslavia (1993 to 1999)
Dartmouth Ventures contractors were hired by the fledging Bosnian government to assist in fighting the forces of Serbia and the Republika Srpska, and were also hired by Croatia for the same purpose. After the conclusion of both conflicts in 1995, Dartmouth Ventures returned to the Balkans in 1998 to assist the Kosovo Liberation Army. When the war in Kosovo ended in 1999, Dartmouth Ventures operations in the Balkans also ceased. As with the border war in South Africa, quantities of firearms that had been provided by the Bosnians, Croatians, and the Kosovo Liberation Army were shipped to England to bolster the inventory of the PMC. Five Dartmouth Ventures contractors died during the Bosnian War and another four were killed by the time the war for Kosovo had ended.
Iraq (2003 to 2011, 2014-)
Following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Dartmouth Ventures was one of many PMCs deployed in Iraq. It provided security for various embassies in Baghdad, assisted in the training of post-Ba’athist Iraqi forces, provided security force training and site security for various installations and compounds belonging to global corporations that were operating in Iraq, as well as the valuable oil installations of Iraq itself, and provided bodyguards for VIPs. Dartmouth Ventures also assisted the MNF-I by means of providing logistical support, operating mess halls, and providing training on various weapons likely to be encountered in insurgent hands. When U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011, Dartmouth Ventures followed suit. By then, David Sackville had been running the company after his father Adrian, Dartmouth Ventures' main founder, suffered a relapse of his PTSD in 2008 and subsequently decided he was no longer able to run the PMC while the condition persisted (though it is rumoured that in fact he only pretended to have a relapse in order to give his son a chance to take over as CE, and is waiting in the wings to resume command should Sackville Jnr ever prove inadequate). David decided that if the U.S. military was pulling out, it was no longer viable for Dartmouth Ventures to maintain a presence in Iraq, thus leading to the PMC’s withdrawal. Dartmouth Ventures suffered 40 deaths during its time in Iraq - the highest casualty rate the company has ever suffered (excluding the later Dvader and None splinter group). In 2014, a small contingent of Dartmouth Ventures contractors was hired to once again provide security and other services as a result of recent ISIS atrocities.
Since 2004, Dartmouth Ventures has conducted operations in the country. These operations are similar to those in Iraq, with additional emphasis on training local forces in preparation for NATO withdrawals. At the time of those withdrawals in 2014, the death toll for Dartmouth Ventures in Afghanistan stood at 16; the PMC has continued operations within the country despite the end of NATO combat missions.
Dartmouth Ventures became one of many private companies to offer maritime armed security off the coast of Somalia, starting this service in 2008. As of 2015, there have been six hijacking attempts (including two that resulted in exchange of fire) against ships under DV protection, all of which were successfully repelled.
Dartmouth Ventures contractors were hired by the National Transitional Council during the Libyan civil war in order to assist in bringing down Muammar Gaddafi and his regime. Dartmouth Ventures adopted the equipment of the insurgents, again causing its operations to be somewhat shrouded in secrecy. Contractors were instrumental in sabotaging the Gaddafi regime for long enough to allow the NTC to still exist and so allow for NATO strikes. Dartmouth Ventures contractors were subsequently part of the rebel offensive up to Gaddafi’s death in October. Experience learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan meant that Dartmouth Ventures suffered no casualties of its own.
Dvader and None (2011-2012)
At some point in 2011, a small group of contractors split off from Dartmouth Ventures. These contractors believed in an exclusively British firm as well as reviving the British Empire, starting with the annexation of the Republic of Ireland and attempting to reinstate the English claim to France. The leader of these rogues is known only as “Dvader”, and as such the splinter group named itself after him. The last known activity of Dvader and None was a march on Paris during the Battle in France, a battle in which other factions took part. It is not exactly known what happened to the splinter group after this, but a significant number of Dvader and None members resumed employment with Dartmouth Ventures. The group had suffered high casualties during its various gambits leading up to the events in France, and it seemed that the command structure of Dvader and None had broken down, claims which were reiterated by David Sackville during a press release in 2013. The main Dartmouth Ventures company itself had no involvement in any events in France, and no significant impact on the company's reputation and future viability appears to have materialised as a result of Dvader and None's actions, but this brief period in the firm’s history is remembered with some shame and anger by several contractors. David Sackville went so far as to mention during one conversation that if Dvader was ever caught by Dartmouth Ventures personnel, he would pay with his own blood for what is widely perceived to be an act of treachery.
Eastern Europe (2013 and beyond)
In August 2013, Dartmouth Ventures contractors began to move into Poland, to provide security and policing for the village of 'Wilkowyje' (Actually an operational codename for Latowicz - incidentally, this area is used for location filming of a drama featuring a similarly named village). Some time afterwards, David Sackville was contacted by the Tbonian Major General of Affairs Boris Henry Fredric with the intention of hiring out Dartmouth Ventures contractors to police Odessa and Ukraine against Kabas PMC and its allies in the Legion of Armed Defense. David replied willing to provide contractors for this purpose, and troops from Dartmouth Ventures subsequently began deployment in those locations. The original contract in Wilkowyje, following some negotiation with the mayor and other local authorities, has since been altered into something of a staging ground for Dartmouth Ventures contractors awaiting deployment to Odessa and Ukraine. Some police and security work is still provided for Wilkowyje, but this is of lower priority compared to the contract awarded by the People’s Republic of Tbonia, and later conflicts in Eastern Europe.
In September 2013, Dartmouth Ventures was hired out by a (yet to be disclosed) Russian national to combat Rage Machines incursions throughout the country. D.V. contractors were also briefly deployed to Bratsk in an effort to eliminate Kabas PMC forces in the area, before it was realised that no such group existed in the area, and subsequently withdrew to prevent confrontation from Tbonian forces stationed in the region.
By December, Dartmouth Ventures contractors made a return to Russia in order to fight FlintValley Mercenaries, which was believed to be a successor to the Rage Machines faction. So far, one facility belonging to the latter faction has been 'freed' of their presence - in exchange, at least one fireteam has been lost, and at least one contractor was under P.O.W status (Though FlintValley later released their first prisoner, supposedly going as far as to give him food items on the way back). The conflict went cold for a while, but may soon be revisited after reports that FlintValley is in an alliance with a criminal organisation known as The Western Route which specialises in sales of illegal narcotics and similar contraband; something that David Sackville and (even more so) his wife take a very dim view of.
Japan (October 2013 - January 2014)
In late October 2013, Dartmouth Ventures contractors were deployed to several Japanese locations to assist Precision Gears Industries, Tbonian, and Operational Detachment Quad forces with putting down local rioting. Initial reports suggest that Dartmouth Ventures units have had some success in reducing the number of incidents and dealing with rioters.
The rioting seems to have subsided as of January 2014, and Dartmouth Ventures contractors deployed in Japan have since left, most of which may be subsequently redirected to bolster the PMC's efforts in Russia.
Recruitment, training, and organisation
Dartmouth Ventures recruits its contractors from various backgrounds. Both ex-servicemen and fresh recruits are hired by the company. Upon being hired, the new contractors are put through a seven-month training period to ensure a level playing field regardless of each contractor’s previous experience (or lack of experience). The course is a version of SAS training modified to cause a much higher yield of successful applicants and still result in highly skilled fighters. The course also aims to give each contractor a basic knowledge of engineering, first aid, communications etc. so that squads are not crippled if an attached specialist is wounded or killed. Since the firm’s beginnings in 1984, the course has undergone further modification to deal with a wider range of enemies, and to accommodate updated tactics and dogma. The seven months are only a guideline in practice, as the length of training does vary somewhat – a former British serviceman for example would need far less time to be trained than someone with no actual military experience. Contractors are continuously subjected to further training, to ensure basic tactics and combat behaviours are not forgotten and to provide enough information on newly acquired equipment to allow effective use of these items in the field.
Being based in Britain, Dartmouth Ventures mostly employs British citizens. However, contractors also hail from the United States of America, the Commonwealth of Nations (South Africa, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in particular have been major sources of recruits over the last few years), and the Republic of Ireland. There has also been some recruiting activity going on in other nations in recent years, particularly in the former Warsaw Pact. Currently, only male contractors are employed; it is unlikely that women will be accepted into the ranks for the forseeable future.
Contractors used to be grouped together in a manner not dissimilar to the current organisation of the modern British Army; however, recent restructuring has resulted in only three formal types of organisational unit; a fireteam of five men, a section/squad of two fireteams, and a division of 100 sections. Any types of unit inbetween a section and a division tend to be made up as suits a particular contract.
Dartmouth Ventures' training regime has been changed considerably; ex-servicemen now are trained within two weeks (or not at all if certain circumstances, such as being a member of some special forces unit or other, are fulfilled), mostly on weapon systems and special forces tactics, while 'greenhorns' undergo a two month course; both of these courses follow the same 'SAS-lite' model of training that was present in the previous courses, and cover similar principles. Parachute training used to be optional, but is now compulsory for those who were not previously para-trained. Things are slowly moving towards the hiring of female contractors.
Contractors are now organised as follows:
- A fireteam of five men (there is always a team leader; the prevalence of riflemen, grenadiers, automatic riflemen, and designated marksmen varies depending on the nature of the fireteam and/or mission)
- A section of two fireteams (these rarely operate in unison; if they do, then usually the more experienced of the two team leaders will command the overall section)
- A company of ten sections (one of which has command responsibilities)
- A division of ten companies (a command section from one company will be in command of the whole division)
Of the 40 divisions (as of late December 2014) available to Dartmouth Ventures, 12 are mechanised infantry divisions, 8 are mixed-arms divisions (which will often serve in an air assault role), 5 are logistical divisions (who can and will be involved in combat if needed, and also double as Dartmouth Ventures' security division), and 1 is an air division (which primarily lends aerial support but will occasionally lend ground forces of its own).
The contractor (often referred to as an operator) is the backbone of Dartmouth Ventures. They are the ones that fulfil any obligations and objectives included in a client’s contract, be it hostage rescue, providing military training, providing security for all manner of corporate employees and property, or (as it may well be) simply fighting an all-out war.
Individuals of note
Dartmouth Ventures' founder and original CEO from 1984 to 2010, having orignally served in the Royal Marines from 1978 to 1983. In 2010, he succumbed to a relapse of his PTSD and subsequently stepped down; he has retained enough sense of mind to provide hints on running the business to the current leadership, and even helps out with recruit training from time to time, with such activities not helping to dispel rumours that he is merely pretending to have the condition. While he was CEO, Adrian regularly attended deployments of DV contractors and actually fought alongside them when the occasion called for it.
Dartmouth Ventures' current CEO from 2010 onwards. His leadership has seen strange things befall the PMC, such as the Dvader and None debacle; it has also seen not so strange things such as a high annual turnover from contracts in Afghanistan and elsewhere. David married a certain Catherine Parker (see below) in 2008 and supposedly had a hand in her becoming deputy CEO two years later, which has led to the odd accusation that he cares more about his love for her than about the welfare of Dartmouth Ventures. David has visited contractors on deployment almost as regularly as his father, but is less inclined towards personally fighting DV's adversaries.
An American who has been Dartmouth Ventures' current deputy CEO since 2010. Given her young age and her status as David Sackville's wife (her life as deputy CEO began just two years after their marriage in fact), this appointment has raised more than a few eyebrows and thus (at least according to some DV contractors) should be regarded as another of the strange things to have befallen the PMC under David's leadership; Catherine's defenders often point out that by appointing his wife as deputy, David was merely ensuring that Dartmouth Ventures remained within the Sackville family. She is fairly diligent in her duties, even if David tends to forget the point of having a deputy by taking on various tasks himself rather than assigning them to Catherine. Owing to her liberal outlook on life, Catherine is quite adamant about equal opportunities in the contractor ranks (especially the issue of employing female contractors), having civilian employees of DV work in a more relaxed atmosphere, and so on.
Having joined the British SAS too late to be the second man on the balcony of the Iranian embassy, Michael was nonetheless one of those in 'the Regiment' to take part in the Falklands War of 1982. Five years later in 1987, he left the SAS after deciding that he had been on too many tours of duty in Northern Ireland and that there was little prospect of the Cold War becoming 'hot'; in that same year, Michael joined the ranks of Dartmouth Ventures' contractors. He is currently one of the oldest members of the PMC to still be actively serving, and divides his time between tutoring his younger counterparts and lending his trigger finger (and the rest of his hands if the going gets that tough) to a fight.
While the profits from Dartmouth Ventures’ activity may go some way towards filling employees' pockets (and making the CE a multi-millionaire), much of it is spent on arming and equipping the actual contractors. As such, Dartmouth Ventures employees have a large arsenal of weaponry, equipment, and vehicles with which to get the job done.
Contractors are usually given full control over which equipment to choose for combat, meaning that a diverse range of loadouts is often seen even at fireteam level. Often, contractors will deploy with Western equipment such as Colt's M16 rifle series (serving as Dartmouth Ventures' primary infantry weapon) and M1911 pistol, the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun, and the FN Minimi light machine gun. As Dartmouth Ventures is based in Britain, a particular emphasis is placed on the use of equipment from that country, such as the SA80 5.56mm weapons family, the L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle, the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife, and the Sterling L2A3 submachine gun. Contractors also use AK-pattern rifles and other equipment of Eastern Bloc origin, especially in Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East where they can exploit the abundance of compatible munitions and spare parts in these regions.
In terms of uniform, contractors wear black battledress (with DPM and Desert DPM battledress also available subject to local terrain and/or contractor preference), black boots, and black load-bearing equipment and/or body armour. Contractors are usually encouraged to privately purchase their own combat clothing within the above requirements, though a considerable stock of clothing items is held by Dartmouth Ventures for issue to contractors.