• Private Military Companies

    Holding Contractors Accountable

    MountainRunner’s friend David Isenberg, writing for the UPI, strives to put some rational thought into the emotional knee-jerking in response to the Blackwater shooting on September 16th: Even though the commission investigating the alleged indiscriminate shooting by Blackwater employees over the weekend has only just been stood up, some voices are already rushing to judgment, condemning the contractors as cold-blooded “mercenaries.” All of this is entirely predictable, though not necessarily unwarranted. It goes to show that four years after private security contractors first started to assume a major role in Iraq, the way they operate is still poorly understood. Much of this is due to the industry itself. Companies, when…

  • Private Military Companies

    Review of the Blackwater Lawsuit

    The Nation has a good article on the Blackwater lawsuit that is slowly working its way through the court system. In Blood Is Thicker Than Blackwater, Jeremy Scahill describes actions by a company that is the worst fear by many opposing privatization (did someone mention CusterBattles?). When firms act like this, as Blackwater is alleged to have done, it not only taints the industry but also the United States. As an interview in the movie Shadow Company demonstrates, Stephen "Scott" Helvenston, Mike Teague, Jerko Zovko and Wesley Batalona were attacked not because they were contractors or because they might have been military, but because they were thought to be CIA…

  • Peacekeeping,  Private Military Companies

    Blackwater & Peacekeeping Operations

    Recently, Blackwater announced that it was willing, and could, provide a brigade size force for humanitarian interventions (HI), such as is needed in Darfur. The Blackwater pronouncement (I think it goes beyond ‘announcement’) is largely based on Tim Spicer’s observation, as quoted in the Green Paper: "too often the major powers won’t intervene or delay until it’s too late." What might the Blackwater deployment look like and how might it work?

  • Private Military Companies

    PMC Fraud: Tip of the Iceberg?

    Briefly, the Custer Battles lawsuit will likely be an eye opener for many. The Iraq war has been a watershed in the outsourcing of not just tangible assets and roles the military used to provide for itself (meals, logistics) but intangibles also. The role of private military companies in the war, from pre-deployment training to site security to force and VIP/"nation building contractors" protection, are part of the soft power of the United States.

  • Private Military Companies

    PMCs and CONUS

    News brief for those not aware, private military companies deployed to New Orleans (continental US or "CONUS") and the environs after Katrina. This was generally not covered by the mainstream media, but the blogosphere and alternative press did. This article is on the tamer side of the alternative coverage. MSM (mainstream media) on the other hand, was almost sterile: The mission is to guard against looters, not fend off coordinated insurgent attacks. But the presence of the highly trained specialists represents an unusual domestic assignment for a set of companies that has chiefly developed in global hot spots where war, not nature, has undermined the rule of law…. Although it’s…

  • Private Military Companies

    Is TopCat really in “mobilization”?

    From Karthryn Cramer comes a tasty bit of news that the BBC wasn’t actually wrong when it said Top Cat Marine Security was in a “mobilisation phase” (UK spelling). From Ms Kathryn Cramer: [a] company that builds boats identical to Top Cat’s seems to have set up shop in Panama Panama is nice place to hide. A commentator on Kathryn’s site says Casini, if it is Top Cat, can’t hide in Panama because ITAR can still reach Pete, he being a US citizen and all. I don’t think that is why he’s hidingout. The US State Department’s "cease & desist" is still a fuzzy red herring to me until I…

  • Private Military Companies,  Unmanned Warfare

    Update: Blackwater Air goes lighter than Air

    Blackwater USA is a prominent, and possibly cutting edge, private military contractor. The only private firm with air resources (side note, they’ve taken casualties… one was shot down last April with fatalities) will expand into remotely piloted craft: Blackwater Airship’s initial focus will be the development and deployment of small remotely piloted airship vehicles (RPAVs) that can operate from 5,000 – 15,000 feet, move and hover, and stay aloft for up to four days. The airships will be equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and detection equipment that can detect, record, and communicate in real time to friendly forces the movement and activities of terrorists. Gary Jackson, president of Blackwater USA said,…

  • Private Military Companies

    Update: Blackwater Lawsuit Details and Other Thoughts

    Some quick notes on the lawsuit against Blackwater stemming from the brutal desecration of four contractors in Fallujah back in March 2004. The deaths of Stephen S. Helvenston, Mike R. Teague, Jerko Gerald Zovko, and Wesley J.K. Batalona is winding its way through the courts. Mercury News includes critical issues in an Aug 2005 article: Blackwater contracted with ESS Support Services Worldwide to guard food shipments to U.S. bases in Iraq. According to the lawsuit, the contract called for security teams to have two armored vehicles and a minimum of six people, as well as a heavy machine gun that could fire up to 850 rounds a minute. The four…

  • Uncategorized

    “Foreign Friends” financing private company off Somali Waters?

    An interesting item was on the BBC News website about the Somali coast being the most dangerous coast in the world, along with a recent Naval War College article (Aug 2005) by a professor at the National Defense College of the Philippines reiterated future if not present links and partnerships between terrorism and piracy, suggests the (obvious) point the attempted cruiseship hijacking that was thwarted by a military grade counter-measure (which was on a civilian vessel for what reason? isn’t mil grade hardware illegal?) had more to do with terrorism than piracy. Even it was piracy, it would likely lead to terrorism following any line of logical reasoning. The BBC…

  • Africa

    Djibouti Sues France

    From Opinio Juris comes news Dijibouti, where our Marines have an counter-terrorism base and are practicing the a real campaign of public diplomacy (see CT in the Horn and Revisiting the Roosevelt Doctrine). [T]he Republic of Djibouti has filed an application with the International Court of Justice against France alleging France violated its treaty obligations to provide judicial assistance in a Djibouti criminal investigation. This looks like a fairly tedious and unimportant case. The only interesting aspect (to me, anyway) is whether France refuses to accept the ICJ’s jurisdiction. France famously withdrew from the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ back in 1996 (those unilateralist Frenchies, so disrespectful of international courts!)…