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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Back in black

Tired of having its employees blown up, Blackwater USA made its own armored car factory in couple of old tobacco warehouses in eastern North Carolina.

It had the completely IED-proof Grizzly Armored Personnel Carrier rolling down the streets of Baghdad faster than the Army could get pieces of scrap steel to weld to the sides of their HUMVEES to stop AK-47 bullets designed sixty years ago from going through both sides of the truck.

The Army still routinely suffers fatal casualties from IED’s hitting HUMVEES; Blackwater hasn’t lost a single person they were protecting in the history of the company. The Army is now looking to buy itself some Grizzlies.

Given the kind of adaptability corporate structure affords, is it any wonder that we’re outsourcing the war to private military corporations (PMC’s) like Blackwater? With over 100,000 private contractors operating in Iraq, we employ almost as many contractors in Iraq as actual troops in-country.

Blackwater has grown to meet that kind of demand. Started by just three former Navy SEAL’s in Moyock, NC, in 1997, Blackwater’s growth has been exponential since 9/11. With over 658 million in State Department contracts alone, the company now trains over 40,000 people a year at the world’s largest, state-of-the-art firearms training facilities in Moyock, and is opening two more facilities in California and Illinois.

With a small army of highly trained former soldiers and a fleet of the same Little Bird helicopter gunships used by U.S. Special Forces, Blackwater helped provide security in Hurricane Katrina for FEMA and private communications, chemical and insurance companies.

Blackwater is even developing its own line of surveillance zeppelins, and is procuring ground-attack fighter planes.

And since they can serve as peacekeepers in other conflicts, Blackwater can profit in peacekeeping roles in non-U.S. conflicts; they raised quite a fuss when they made a bid to provide security in Darfur.

Deliberately seeming almost comically evil has helped Blackwater be terribly successful at its job by discouraging attack. If you’re an American in Iraq and you don’t care to get shot, you want to the protection of the company that calls itself “Blackwater” and feels the need to have its own line of surveillance zeppelins.

This kind of success is why the State Department continues to support them even after some serious screw-ups that have left very public body counts and nearly resulted in firefights with Iraqi police.

“Our mission is to protect the “principal” (the protected party) at all costs. If that means pissing off the Iraqis, too bad,” Blackwater security told Coalitional Provisional Authority Adviser, Ann Star, when they protected her.

And the Iraqi’s are so terribly pissed at Blackwater right now, the company has actually managed to unite the country, if only in its enmity.

Mission Accomplished.

Mathew Degn, former U.S. adviser to the Iraqi Interior Ministry told the Washington Post that the Iraqis see Blackwater as a symbol. “The Iraqis are trying to establish their own authority. And if they do this, they can show the world that Blackwater is not untouchable. And that the U.S. is not the ultimate authority in their country.”

As long as PMC’s operate above the law and without restriction, they’re the biggest threat to stability in Iraq since Donald Rumsfeld.

They also present a potential threat to us if they keep growing unchecked, since they have no obligation to protect the constitution like regular soldiers, their only responsibility is to the people who hold their contracts.

Rome was burned by mercenary armies it stopped paying once it outsourced its military; if we’re going to use them, let’s put our contractors on a leash. Quickly, because they are damn good at whatever it is we – or someone else – hires them to do.

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