David Edwards and Muriel Kane – “Blackwater CEO: US government will always need ‘companies like us'”


Blackwater CEO: US government will always need ‘companies like us’

David Edwards and Muriel Kane | July 22, 2008

The private military contractor Blackwater Worldwide has frequently been embroiled in controversy for its activities in Iraq and elsewhere. Last fall, the Iraqi government attempted to revoke Blackwater’s license to work in that country after contractors opened fire at a Baghdad intersection, killing eight civilians.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, Blackwater’s president, Gary Jackson, announced that the firm has already reduced its security contracting and expects to get out of that business almost entirely.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also raised questions about the use of private contractors to provide training for US forces, asking, “are we comfortable with this practice, and do we fully understand the implications in terms of quality, responsiveness and sustainability?”

However Blackwater founder and CEO Eric Prince doesn’t believe the US government can do without him. In a drive around Blackwater’s training center in Moyock, NC, Prince acknowledged that “we take a lot of grief for the work we’ve done,” but he also boasted to the Associated Press about his firm’s operations, including “the guys that fly into rough, unimproved strips to do tactical airlift support.”

“You know, we did 11,000 missions last year in Afghanistan,” Prince said. “Our total invoice … was less than the air force is spending on one C-27 aircraft. … It’s a benefit to the US government to go to the outside to do that mission.”

Prince does recognize that his firm’s focus will have to change. “The security business is what it is,” he opined. “I don’t see that growing a lot. I mean, Iraq is getting progressively better. … The experience we’ve had would certainly be a disincentive to any other companies that want to step in and put their entire business at risk.”

However, Prince foresees that “whoever takes over in January, whatever party, the US government is still going to need a lot of this kind of work done. Companies like us are going to be necessary to do the work.” He also noted that “at our core, we’ve always been trainers, and that will continue.”

Published in: on July 22, 2008 at 10:03 PM  Leave a Comment  

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