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Old 03-30-2006   #1
SWJED
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Default Matters Blackwater (Merged thread)

Moderator at Work

Today I have merged nine threads on Blackwater into one and so changed the thread title.(Ends)

30 March Norfolk Virginian-Pilot - Blackwater USA Says it Can Supply Forces for Conflicts.

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Stepping into a potential political minefield, Blackwater USA is offering itself up as an army for hire to police the world's trouble spots.

Cofer Black, vice chairman of the Moyock, N.C.-based private military company, told an international conference in Amman, Jordan, this week that Blackwater stands ready to help keep or restore the peace anywhere it is needed...

Until now, the eight-year-old company has confined itself to training military and police personnel and providing security guards for government and private clients. Under Black's proposal, it would take on an overt combat role...

Unlike national and multinational armies, which tend to get bogged down by political and logistical limitations, Black said, Blackwater could have a small, nimble, brigade-size force ready to move into a troubled region on short notice...

Peter Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institution who has written a book on private military companies, said the concept of private armies engaging in counter-insurgency missions raises myriad questions about staffing standards, rules of engagement and accountability...

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Old 03-30-2006   #2
Tom Odom
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Thumbs down Walmart Wars: discounting conflicts?

Lovely idea. Then we could hire mercs to engage in conflicts with no effect on the US scene beyond the bottom dollar. This seems to be a dangerous commercial extension of the drive to develop "lighter, more rapidly deployabe forces" in the interest of getting to conflict zones without a parallel--or more serious--effort at determining why you want to go in the first place. Faster is NOT always better.

I have studied and worked in environments where mercs get involved. We have already had serious side effects from merc security companies operating in Iraq.

Sounds rather Roman. I still believe that if a nation is not willing to put it's citizens and its policies at risk, then it should refrain from using mercs.

Tom

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Old 03-30-2006   #3
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Executive Outcomes and Sandline certainly come to mind.
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Old 03-30-2006   #4
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Default Who you "hire" to do what and why

There are all kinds of negative potentialities here but there are also positive ones in that small professional units operating under great power supervision may in some instances be better than:

a) Doing nothing

b) Relying on the most poorly disciplined, led and trained armies of the world to be at the forefront of UN peacekeeping.

c) Letting virtually unarmed UN peacekeepers become accesssories to atrocities via ineffectuality, as in Bosnia.

While Tom's caveats are well-taken the current system is nothing to write home about either.
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Old 03-31-2006   #5
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Default In some cases

Like Tom I have a lot of concern about sending contractors to wage our nation's fight, but I think Zenpundit's points are valid also. I wonder how effective a force like this would have been in Rwanda? They probably could have saved thousands of lives, but instead the U.S. and the Western world was embarassed and shamed by their political paralysis to respond with small military force. Executive Outcomes reportedly did an outstanding job in bringing the killing to a stop in Sierra Leone before they were asked to leave. Perhaps a company similar to Black Water could have been more effective in Bosnia than the Dutch military, and other so called peace keepers that made a laughing stock of the UN, then again without the credible threat of U.S. airpower to provide protection, a company like Blackwater probably wouldn't last a week against a force as large, well trained, equipped, and motivated as the Serbs. Liberia, Somalia, Rwanda, Philippines, Mexico, or isloated areas within Afghanistan and Iraq they may have a role, but a Bosnia type scenario is probably beyond their means.

The danger of this type of company is they can be employed without going through the political process that would be required to commit military forces, yet the advantage of this type of company is they can bypass the political process, thus give the President, or perhaps the UN, other regional organizations (like ECOWAS), or even other countries an option that can be employed quickly and effectively with minimal risk politically to the U.S. government.

I just wonder what happens when they get in over their head (like in Fallujah) in an area where the U.S. hasn't committed troops? Will the U.S. government be pressured to respond to get them out of trouble, or do we sit by and let Americans who were doing our (the U.S. military's) bidding for us get their butt kicked? Of course it will depend on the uproar created in the press.

Companies like this present our government with numerous hazards, but I think they also expand our national security options if.......
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Old 04-03-2006   #6
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Default On Mercs

Bill and all,

The issue of using mercs is one of those that depends on the where and the why. My own experience in dealing with this issue came about in researching the 1964 Congo Hostage Crisis. Leavenworth Paper #14 resulted. Many have read Mike Hoare's Congo Mercenary and it was nomninally the basis for the film, The Wild Geese. Both are works of fiction; the film is more honest about its romanticizing than Hoare. The mercenary operations in the Congo were multi-level:

The Ground Force: the real organizer of the ground op was Colonel Vandewalle who had been the last head of security in the Belgian Congo before independence. He was Belgium's man in organizing the Katangan Secession under Mosie Tshombe with a variety of mercenaries including Hoare and Roger Trinquier. When Tshombe came back in the 1964 crisis so did Vandewalle and he ultimately lead the mercenary column into Stanleyville from the south to link up with the Belgian Paracommandos.

The Air Force: the CIA and the USAF set up a Congolese Air America using T-6s, T-28s, and A26s (AKA B-26s) and Bay of Pigs Cuban pilots to fly close air support.

The Covert Force: there was also a merc/black element attached to Vandewalle's column to extract key personnel from Stanleyville.

All of this worked and then it did not. The Stanleyville and Paulis ops did save a large number of hostages. But more hostages were killed elsewhere in the next year. The mercenaries ended up revolting against the new Mobutu government and fought their way out via Bukavu.

In 1994 I raised the idea of contractors to secure the refugee camps in eastern Zaire, given the large number of ex-Rwandan army and militia members active in those camps. I suggested the Israeli-Zairian security company SOZAIS and even had the retired Isaraeli colonel who ran the company come out to Goma to do a site survey. SOZAIS used active soldiers from the DSP (the Mobutu regime guaranteors trained by Israel) to provide contract security to businesses and indiividuals. Ultimately a form of what I proposed did take place when the UNHCR hired a force of nearly 1000 DSP soldiers with "advisors" to help improve security in the camps. This helped the international workers but did nothing about the larger security issues in those camps; the ultimate fall out was the 1996 clearing of the camps and the 1997 and 1998 invasions of Zaire with a current death total in excess of 3 million.

Perhaps a merc force could have sopped the geoncide if someone had had the will to deply such a force. But I would say that the world did have a force capable of doing just that (UNAMIR) on the ground with a Commander willing to do it and nothing was done. I doubt seriously that the RPA (the rebels) would have accepted a merc force on their turf because they were already dealing with the French intervention and French assistance to the former government. Later when the RPA did move on the camps in 1996 using client militias, the former government and the militias had hired Serbian mercenaries to help train and lead their forces. They fared poorly against the RPA; I suspect any merc force interjected into this cauldron in 1994 would have shared a similar fate.

the closest thing to standing merc force in the world is the Foreign Legion. It allows France to do things that the French public and the regular military would not accept. Sometimes that is good as in the case in Kolwezi in 1978. Sometimes it is not: French activities in supporting and training genociidal killers in Rwanda are well documented. The 1st REPs rebellion in Algeria was another case where the use of forces loyal only to themselves caused France great problems.

And we have used mercs from time to time as an extension or lead for our own policy. The Flying Tigers in China were true mercenaries, drawing bounties for each Japanese plane shot down. That is not to take away from the valor or reputation of the AVG; Read Pappy Boyington's book for a warts and all view of the AVG.

My take on mercs is always measured against our national interests. If it is sufficiently in our interests to get involved militarily, then it should be sufficienty important to use our established forces.

best
Tom
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Old 05-04-2006   #7
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Default PMCs in Wikipedia

Quote:
Private military contractors, private military corporations or private military companies (PMCs) are companies that provide armed staff trained in combat, i.e. private military, for other corporations, organizations, individuals and state military forces. The term is also used for the staff of such companies.

When providing services to a State's military they may be described more generally as defense contractors. When working for a State's military the difference in nomenclature seems to be arbitrary, the chief distinction that may be made is that defense contractors supply specialized hardware and the personnel to support and service that hardware, while PMCs supply personnel with specialized skills, which often include combat experience. The 1949, Third Geneva Convention (GCIII) does not recognize the difference between defense contractors and PMCs, it defines a category called supply contractors. If the supply contractor has been issued with a valid identity card from the armed forces which they accompany, they are entitled to be treated as prisoners of war upon capture (GCIII Article 4.1.4). If however the contractor engages in combat, on capture they can be classified as a mercenary under the 1997 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions (Protocol I) Article 47.c, unless they fall under an exemption to this clause as listed in Article 47. If on capture contractors are found to be mercenaries, they are an unlawful combatant and lose the right to prisoner of war status.

There has been a recent exodus from many special forces across the globe towards these private military corporations. The United Kingdom Special Air Service, the United States Army Special Forces and the Canadian Army's Joint Task Force 2 have been hit particularly hard. Operators are lured by the fact that entry level positions with the various companies can pay up to $100,000 a year, which is 2-3 times more than what an average special forces operator is paid. However, this conventional wisdom has been disputed especially in the United States where GAO research has detected no noticeable exodus.
The site provides links to many of the PMCs' web pages to include Blackwater USA.
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Old 05-05-2006   #8
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Default Cofer Black is CIA

Are we suggesting to deploy a 4GW force to occupy one of China's major oil importers?

I want a T-Shirt

Last edited by GorTex6; 05-05-2006 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 05-16-2006   #9
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Default Cofer Black

Was a CIA station chief for Sudan. Most of his career was in Africa.
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Old 05-17-2006   #10
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If you had this capability, would you make it public knowledge?
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Old 05-17-2006   #11
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Default Geneva Protocols

Are not binding international law on non-signatories BTW.

The Euros adopted the Protocol along with the old East Bloc that privileged Marxist guerillas whose methods normally violate the Geneva Convention but the U.S. did not. Claims advanced in this regard to PMC employees are simply that, mere assertions. The U.S. is legally free and clear to try irregulars who fight out of uniform or assert lawful combatant status for any PMC employees contracted by the Pentagon.
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Old 05-18-2006   #12
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Default Blackwater USA to Open Facilities in California, Philippines

16 May Virginian-Pilot - Blackwater USA to Open facilities in California, Philippines.

Quote:
Fast-growing private military company Blackwater USA is expanding westward.

Blackwater executives say they plan to soon open a branch facility in southern California and a jungle survival skills training center on the site of the former Subic Bay naval base in the Philippines.

Both projects will be smaller versions of Blackwater's 7,000-acre compound in Camden and Currituck counties, where thousands of military and law enforcement personnel come each year for training. The company says it is the largest tactical training facility in the United States, if not the world.

The eight-year-old company has enjoyed phenomenal growth, winning hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of federal contracts to provide security and training services in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.

Chris Taylor, Blackwater's vice president for strategic initiatives, referred to the planned facility in southern California as "Blackwater West." He did not specify where it will be or when it will open.

In the Philippines, Blackwater President Gary Jackson said, the company has acquired about 25 acres at Subic Bay and will have access to thousands of acres of adjacent jungle for conducting jungle environment survival training, known by the acronym JEST...

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Old 09-14-2006   #13
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Default Global Guerrillas and Popular Mechanics...

35,000 Private Military Shooters in Iraq?

Quote:
PSCAI (Private Security Company Association of Iraq) estimates that there are 35,000 private military contractors (those who are using lethal force and employed by global corporations) in Iraq. Note that the vast bulk of these contractors are operating outside the realm of any counter-insurgency strategy (and by their actions, defined by their missions, typically undermine it).
... and from Popular Mechanics - PODCAST: Licensed to Kill

Quote:
Welcome to the shadowy world of the hired gun. We talk with Robert Young Pelton, who's new book, License to Kill, details the three years he spent with private security contractors in the high risk, highly paid world of military outsourcing. Former Marine infantryman Bing West -- also a former assistant secretary of defense -- shares a grunt's view of the killings in Haditha, and explain why we shouldn't be so quick to judge...
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Old 09-14-2006   #14
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If looking at 'private security forces' and not 'private military', the number is double (or possibly even quadruple) the 35k 'licensed' individuals. This from from PSCAI interviews.
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Old 10-02-2006   #15
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Default Private Military Companies Eye Darfur

2 October Washington Times - Private Firms Eye Darfur by Willis Witter.

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Private military companies protecting American diplomats, aid workers and local officials in Iraq and Afghanistan are making a pitch to take over U.N. peacekeeping missions in Darfur and other global hot spots where the United Nations is unable to stop the killing.

Companies such as Blackwater, Triple Canopy, DynCorp and Halliburton have mushroomed in size and number since the 2003 Iraq invasion, serving an increasing need to protect people and projects from terrorist attacks.

With a limited number of U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq, private companies fill a void with up to 100,000 employees, far more than all non-U.S. coalition troops combined. They do everything from serving meals on U.S. bases to protecting diplomats and visiting generals who venture outside the protected Green Zone in downtown Baghdad.

Some companies are looking beyond Iraq and seeking a greater role in peacekeeping, and the largely ineffective deployment of a 7,000-member African Union (AU) force in the Darfur region of western Sudan provides an opportunity.

Blackwater says it could get its people and equipment in Darfur in three weeks, provided U.N. members could agree on a plan. In comparison, it takes an average of six months for a U.N. peacekeeping team to deploy...
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Old 10-10-2006   #16
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Default Contractor Deaths Near 650, Legal Fog Thickens

10 October Reuters - Contractor Deaths Near 650, Legal Fog Thickens by Bernd Debusmann.

Quote:
The war in Iraq has killed at least 647 civilian contractors to date, according to official figures that provide a stark reminder of the huge role of civilians in supporting the U.S. military...

Their number in Iraq is estimated at up to 100,000, from highly-trained former special forces soldiers to drivers, cooks, mechanics, plumbers, translators, electricians and laundry workers and other support personnel.

A trend toward "privatizing war" has been accelerating steadily since the end of the Cold War, when the United States and its former adversaries began cutting back professional armies. U.S. armed forces shrank from 2.1 million when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 to 1.4 million today.

"At its present size, the U.S. military could not function without civilian contractors," said Jeffrey Addicott, an expert at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. "The problem is that the civilians operate in a legal gray zone. There has been little effort at regulation, oversight, standardized training and a uniform code of conduct. It's the Wild West out there."...
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Old 12-11-2006   #17
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Default Warriors for Hire

18 December issue of the Weekly Standard - Warriors for Hire by Mark Hemingway.

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For obvious reasons, the location of the headquarters of Blackwater USA isn't well-publicized. Officially, the only public trace of the world's largest private military training facility is a post office box in Moyock, North Carolina, an unremarkable rib-shack pit-stop on the way to the Outer Banks.

But the place isn't hard to find. From Washington, D.C., head south. As soon as you cross the state line, follow the sound of gunfire until you find an armed compound half the size of Manhattan. Which is not to say the place sticks out--it's just very, very big. Blackwater is a company most Americans first heard of when four of its contractors were murdered in Falluja, Iraq, in March 2004, and their bodies desecrated on camera. It is the most prominent of the private security contractors in Iraq. You might think of the North Carolina facility as Blackwater's Fort Benning or Quantico...

Though the company is less than ten years old, it's already become the alpha and omega of military outsourcing. The target systems remain a multimillion-dollar business, but now the corporate flagship is just one part of a very large fleet. Indeed, it would be hard to understate Blackwater's capabilities:
  • A burgeoning logistics operation that can deliver 100- or 200-ton self-contained humanitarian relief response packages faster than the Red Cross.
  • A Florida aviation division with 26 different platforms, from helicopter gunships to a massive Boeing 767. The company even has a Zeppelin.
  • The country's largest tactical driving track, with multi-surface, multi-elevation positive and negative cambered turns, a skid pad, and a ram pad for drivers learning how to escape ambushes.
  • A 20-acre manmade lake with shipping containers that have been mocked up with ship rails and portholes, floating on pontoons, used to teach how to board a hostile ship.
  • A K-9 training facility that currently has 80 dog teams deployed around the world. Ever wondered how to rappel down the side of nine stacked shipping containers with a bomb-sniffing German shepherd dog strapped to your chest? Blackwater can teach you.
  • A 1,200-yard-long firing range for sniper training.
  • A sizable private armory. The one gun locker I saw contained close to 100 9mm handguns--mostly military issue Beretta M9s, law enforcement favorite Austrian Glocks, and Sig Sauers.
  • An armored vehicle still in development called the Grizzly; the prototype's angular steel plates are ferocious-looking. The suspension is being built by one of Black water's North Carolina neighbors--Dennis Anderson, monster truck champion and the man responsible for the "Grave Digger" (the ne plus ultra of monster trucks).
... It may seem callous that Blackwater is making a buck preparing police to deal with such horrific events. But somebody has to be in the business of worst case scenarios. It's not their fault that everywhere--from Colorado to Iraq--business is so good.

While Blackwater's training and logistics operations might be the heart of their operation, that's not the reason the company is on the verge of becoming a household name. Among its initial government contracts was one for antiterrorist training in the wake of the USS Cole bombing. A single marksman could have taken out the approaching bomb-laden boat, but most soldiers on deck weren't even carrying loaded weapons at the time. Recognizing a major weakness, the Navy awarded an "urgent and compelling need" contract to Blackwater to train 20,000 sailors in force protection. The company still executes that contract to this day. And from that start, it gradually expanded its roster of services available to the military. Enter the war on terror, and the military began looking for something beyond training and support services--actual manpower.

Blackwater is now one of the largest and most respected suppliers of "private military contractors" in Iraq. The company has carried out high-profile assignments--such as their exclusive contract to guard Ambassador L. Paul Bremer when he was the top U.S. civilian in Iraq--whose performance by a private company would once have been unthinkable...
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Old 12-11-2006   #18
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...and second amendment contrarians think there is no such thing as militia's in the United States.
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Old 12-12-2006   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selil View Post
...and second amendment contrarians think there is no such thing as militia's in the United States.
One does have to wonder if John Hawkwood is their eponymous founder <wry grin>. Still and all, given their scope, are they a militia, a TNC along the lines of Executive Outcomes, or something entirely different.

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Old 05-27-2007   #20
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Default U.S. Security Contractors Open Fire in Baghdad

27 May Washington Post - U.S. Security Contractors Open Fire in Baghdad by Steve Fainaru and Saad al-Izzi.

Quote:
Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area...
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