Archive for the ‘Blackwater’ tag
Blackwater/Xe Flees Jo Daviess County
But Training Continues
By Dan Kenney
Co-Coordinator of No Private Armies
Nearly four years ago citizens joined together in a small church near Mt. Carroll Illinois forming No Private Armies/ Clearwater to Stop Blackwater. The citizens group worked for four years to get Blackwater, now Xe, to leave Illinois. The last major demonstration held at the Blackwater/Xe training site in northwest Illinois occurred April 27th 2009 and resulted in 22 arrests.
Blackwater was once the largest and most powerful mercenary company in the U.S. making over $1 billion in U.S. contracts. But now beleaguered with lawsuits, and having undergone massive changes in the company’s administration the sole owner of Blackwater, Eric Prince has moved out of the country and put the company up for sale.
The Galena Gazette reports http://galenagazette.com/index.asp that Blackwater/Xe as of October 1st 2010 no longer has a financial interest in the Jo Daviess’ County facility. It is now a private business locally owned and operated. According to the current business owner Eric Davis, who was the manager of the site for Blackwater since 2007, “Blackwater is currently in the process of moving their equipment that still remains back to North Carolina.”
In 2009 Blackwater changed the name of their training facilities to U.S. Training Center. They still operate two training facilities one in San Diego and the other in Moyock North Carolina. Blackwater also owns and operates a mobile training unit that travels the country training law enforcement.
The facility on Skunk Hallow Road twenty miles south of Stockton, Illinois has been renamed North American Weapons and Tactical Training Center. The new company is owned by Impact Training Group. Mr. Davis, former U.S. military, reports that all of the full and part-time instructors are former law enforcement. The company’s Facebook page states: ‘Impact Training Group offers the finest and most comprehensive firearms and tactics instruction available.”
The NAWTTC also offers, “a unique training experience that can accommodate any of your training requirements or needs. Whether you or your unit wishes to rent our ranges, participate in IMPACT’s training courses, or just learn basic fundamentals of marksmanship give us a call and we’ll make the arrangements.”
The North American Weapons Group joins the many other companies that have sprung up around America over the past decade. These companies have moved in to capitalize on the growing trend to outsource the training of local law enforcement and military. Over the past two years I have been contacted by citizens in California, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Michigan concerned about start-up Blackwater want-a-bes.
It is good to know Blackwater was not able to make sufficient profit to continue to operate a training facility in northwest Illinois. However the fight against the outsourcing of America’s security continues. Currently contractors out number American soldiers in Afghanistan, where there are 206,000 private contractors performing many tasks, and in Iraq where 177,000 contractors remain. Over 40,000 of these contractors are armed and may engage in combat. In the first six months of 2010 contractor casualties outnumbered those of US soldiers; there is an increasing reliance on mercenaries to carry out American operations as US troops are brought home.
We are witnessing the largest transfer of combat fighting and security work from public hands to private in the history of our country. We are also witnessing the privatization of war by multi-billion dollar companies such as Dyncorp and Blackwater and hundreds of others like them. Some 600 private companies are profiting off of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is reported that nearly half of every tax dollar spent in these conflicts goes to a for profit military contracting company.
Senator Levine after a trip to Afghanistan stated clearly recently one of the dangers this privatization process presents:
“The reliance on private security contractors in Afghanistan too often empowers
local warlords and powerbrokers who operate outside the Afghan government’s control. There is even evidence that some security contractors work against
coalition forces, creating the very threat that they are hired to combat. Not only do these contractors threaten the security of our troops, but they put the success of our mission at risk –”
If American citizens want their security provided by soldiers who take an oath to uphold and protect our constitution and have strong allegiance to our country then we need to remain vigilant of what is happening to our security and what is happening to the way we conduct our wars. We also need to be watchful of how and by whom our local law enforcement is being trained.
By Dan Kenney
No Private Armies
December 19, 2009
Recently I gave a talk to a group of democrats about the danger of outsourcing our security to private military and security companies like Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and others. Part of my talk includes looking at the profits made by pentagon contractors such as Raytheon, Boeing, KBR, etc.. During the questions and comments portion the chair of the committee said, “By your definition of military contractor I would be one, I have worked for Raytheon for over 35 years.”
He said that I should not include Raytheon in with Blackwater. “Raytheon is a good company that provides what our soldiers need, they are nothing like Blackwater.” In a sense he was saying that Raytheon was a “good” military contractor and that Blackwater was a bad one. I have given this talk many times and this is the first time someone challenged me with the possibility that there are “good” war profiteers and there are bad.
The next person to speak said that she agreed with the chair and she felt it was not a good idea to take on these companies right now with the economy the way it is, because “they provide a lot of jobs.” She implied these multi-billion dollar companies that make their money from war are “good” companies to have because of the employment they provide. .
On my drive home I puzzled over what they had said. Could it be that I should present the information about pentagon contractors like Boeing and Raytheon in a separate program? So I decided I needed to take a closer look at Raytheon.
I learned that Raytheon, which means “light from the gods,” is the fifth largest defense contractor in the world and the fourth largest in the United States, with annual revenues of over $20 billion. More than 90 percent of Raytheon’s revenues were obtained from defense contracts. Many of their contracts with the U.S. defense department are “no bid contracts.”
Raytheon is the maker of “Bunker Buster” bombs, Tomahawk and Patriot missiles. Raytheon manufactured the missile that killed 62 civilians, most of them women and children, in a Baghdad market in 2003. Hundreds of Raytheon million dollar cruise missiles have been fired on Afghanistan killing more untold hundreds of civilians. The Tomahawk missiles were used during “shock and awe” in 2003 killing hundreds in Iraq.
The missile that killed 62 in a Baghdad market on a Friday night in 2003 had been manufactured in Texas. Apparently it malfunctioned and did not hit its intended target.
The company refused to take responsibility for the malfunction.
In 2009 Raytheon came out with the “Silent Guardian” or Active Denial System (ADS). It is designed to protect military personnel against small-arms fire without the use of lethal force. Transmitted at the speed of light over a 700 yard distance, the “Pain-Ray” as it is also known, is a millimeter-wave beam that penetrates 1/64th of an inch beneath the skin, causing the water molecules to bubble, producing an intense burning sensation, compared to that of a red hot iron. It has been referred to as the “Holy Grail of crowd control.”
Like Blackwater Raytheon has also had its share of rule violations and illegal behavior. Raytheon has paid millions of dollars in fines for illegal activities. Some of the fines were paid in settlements for several cases of overpricing and inflated costs. Other fines followed guilty pleas for illegally obtaining secret Air Force budget and planning documents and for submitting false claims for work done on missiles.
Raytheon is also fighting a civil action suit that was filed by over 1,000 property owners in St. Petersburg, Fla. The resident accuse Waltham, Mass. based Raytheon of polluting the soil and groundwater around its St. Petersburg, Fla.
So it appears that there are many similarities between Blackwater and Raytheon after all.
What about the jobs? Raytheon does employ over 80,000 workers worldwide. Boeing has over 155,000 and GE over 320,000. CACI employs over 12,000, Dyncorp another 15,000.and Triple Canopy has over 2,000 in Iraq alone. Blackwater’s information about how many they employ is difficult to find, however Gary Jackson former president of Blackwater said in an interview back in 2007 that they had a list of over 25,000 contractors. There is no question that these pentagon contractor companies provide employment, after-all this is what the “military industrial complex” is all about. The issue of employment, the livelihood of millions depending upon the creation of weapons, distributing weapons, on and on; this is the heart of the problem with creating an economy based on war. However we need to face the fact that an economy that is based on weapons and war is not sustainable; in fact it may lead to our own destruction.
One must ask where is the line to be drawn separating the one who drops the bomb from the one who helps create or manufacture the bomb? Is one less responsible for the death of those innocent individuals killed? Is one who works for a company that manufactures the missiles that kill the children less responsible for their deaths? Are those who have their tax dollars pay for the missiles any less responsible for the killings by the missiles? If it were not for our tax dollars how would our government pay the war profiteers? And if my tax dollars are among those used to pay for the missile am I not also responsible in some way? Are we not all responsible in some way for what is done in our names?
It is these questions that lead to an impasse as we struggle for a world without war profiteers: a world of peace instead of one of war.
I have answered one question for myself however, and that is I will continue to talk about Raytheon and Boeing, and the other companies who profit from war in the same presentation as Blackwater and other private military security companies. I have yet to find a “good” war profiteer.
Citizens of Highlands County Florida Fight
A Blackwater Wannabe
By Dan Kenney
Many “Blackwater wannabes” have been sprouting up around the country this past year. Proposed large private training centers have been brought to my attention from California, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, and Florida. The one in Ohio was defeated by citizens. The ones in California and Virginia are still being fought.
The proposed 7,700 acre Eagle National Training Center that was under consideration near Venus Florida has for now been turned down on their attempt to secure zoning changes. The Highland County commissioners voted unanimously to not approve the requested zoning variances.
Opponents of the proposed private military and security training facility turned out in large numbers to speak out against the project. The citizens filled the meeting room and more waited outside. The meeting lasted for over 12 hours. It is unclear if the security center is a dead deal, the developer, Greg Eagle of the Ft. Meyers area isn’t saying. There is a good chance that it is and credit must go to the opponents who worked quickly and with determination to stop it.
The developers made many concessions to try and when over the local residents like giving up plans for a 6,000 foot runway and firing of large guns. But the citizens were not swayed. Many of the citizens voiced concern that Eagle was just purchasing the land but then would lease it to Blackwater (now known as Xe.)
But because Eagle lost this round it does not mean the fight is over. Eagle could come back in six months with a revised plan to try and fit into the present zoning requirements. Also De Soto County, one hour from Highlands, has let it be known that if Highlands didn’t want the training center they would take it. The promise of 1,000 jobs that Eagle has put out is very tempting in the present economic environment.
Also watch for another Eagle Training Center that may be coming to a neighborhood near you. According to a 10 year business plan that was submitted to the commissioners Eagle, following in Blackwater’s footsteps, plans to create twenty additional satellite training installations nationally. Their plan was to make the Florida location a headquarters. Their plan also included the training of foreign soldiers and police. It also mentioned the possibility of “flipping the property” to a larger private training company such as Blackwater.
It seems that many have seen the huge profits that companies like Blackwater, Triple Canopy, DynCorp, and others are making and have decided it is time to join them at the U.S. government privatization feeding trough.
Be on the watch for a private military security company near your home town.