The most influential strategist of the wars in Iraq and Afg may turn out to be Erik Prince. He has had a huge impact on how the US military operates isn’t necessarily a compliment. The former Navy Seal is the founder of Blackwater USA, the notorious “private military contractor” that garnered a great deal of unwanted publicity for its role performing security and logistics functions for the US government in various war zones. “Private military contractor” is just a euphemism for mercenary.
Blackwater should be remembered for more than controversy. As he was hauled before the House Oversight and government reform committee, Henry Waxman questioning about Nisour Square, the very next day, Blackwater contractors responded to a distress call in Baghdad form the US embassy and ended up saving the life of the badly wounded Polish ambassador to Iraq in a dramatic helicopter rescue mission.
The military can’t be all things to all people. So we have gaps. A temporary way to fill that gap is to contract that service. ”I just saw a number that the Pentagon is budgeting $2.1 million per solider in AFG. That number to me is so utterly staggering, it’s ridiculous. Another criticism was that military contractors in AFG were bilking taxpayers. It’s true that Blackwater received over $1 billion in government contracts in the span of a decade.
Prince also explains in detail how corrupt and broken the Pentagons contracting process is, with its “cost plus” arguments that let the government pick up the tab for unlimited cost overruns.
Blackwater started out in 1997 as a large compound in rural NC with the sole mission of renting out facilities to the US military and other law enforcement agencies. The post war military had been shutting down bases and cutting back on training expenses which was damaging to readiness.
After the USS Cole the Navy’s firearms procedures and training necessary to protect ships in port had severely degraded. The Blackwater compound was built to supply tactical shooting houses, sniper ranges, driving tracks and other training grounds, all within range of Quantico. ‘Blackwaters logistical capabilities just kept expanding all at the behest of the Uncle Sam. Soon they were in charge of providing the security detail for Paul Bremer the US administrator of postwar Iraq. Blackwater was even the go-between for the CIA and Afghan warlords looking to bring down the Taliban.
Other contracts worth $400 million were awarded to a company founded by Tim Spencer, a notorious mercenary whose previous work had included a botched mission to regain control of a copper mine that nearly destabilized the Papua New Guinean government and accusation he violated a UN arms embargo while doing shady work in West Africa.
“They cast us as villains for saying yes when the US government needed us”.
Prince regrets plans he couldn’t bring to fruition; he wanted to bring military defense and logistical capabilities to bear on humanitarian work what he calls “relief with teeth”.
Blackwater is still operation with different t owners under name Academi and similar outfits such as Triple Canopy and ArmorGroup are thriving.
It is hard to imagine the US going to war anytime soon without being heavily reliant on contractors.
Source—weekly standard, mark hemingway