History of Blackwater
(US Underground Terrorist Army)
In the late 1990s, Erik Prince spent part of his inherited wealth to purchase about 6,000 acres (24 km2) of the Great Dismal Swamp, a vast swamp on the North Carolina/Virginia border, now mostly a National Wildlife Refuge. Here he created his state-of-the-art private training facility, and his contracting company—Blackwater—is named for the peat-colored water of the swamp.
Blackwater USA was formed in 1990 to provide training support to military and law enforcement organizations. In 2002 Blackwater Security Consulting (BSC) was formed. It was one of several private security firms employed following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. BSC is one of over 60 private security firms employed during the Iraq War to guard officials and installations, train Iraq's new army and police, and provide other support for occupation forces. Blackwater was also hired during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by the United States Department of Homeland Security, as well as by private clients, including communications, petrochemical and insurance companies. Overall, the company has received over $1 billion USD in government contracts. Blackwater consists of nine divisions, and a subsidiary, Blackwater Vehicles.
Erik Prince, Blackwater founder
Xe is a privately held company and does not publish much information about internal affairs. Xe's founder and former CEO Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL, attended the Naval Academy, graduated from Hillsdale College, and was an intern in George H. W. Bush's White House. Prince is a major financial supporter of Republican Party causes and candidates. Xe's president, Gary Jackson, is also a former Navy SEAL.
Cofer Black, the company's current vice chairman, was director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center (CTC) at the time of the September 11 attacks in 2001. He was the United States Department of State coordinator for counterterrorism with the rank of ambassador at large from December 2002 to November 2004. After leaving public service, Black became chairman of the privately owned intelligence gathering company Total Intelligence Solutions, Inc., as well as vice chairman for Xe. Robert Richer was vice president of intelligence until January 2007, when he formed Total Intelligence Solutions. He was formerly the head of the CIA's Near East Division. Black was senior advisor for counterterrorism and national security issues for the 2008 Presidential election bid of Mitt Romney.
Xe's primary training facility, located on 7,000 acres (28 km2) in northeastern North Carolina, comprises several ranges: indoor, outdoor, urban reproductions; a man-made lake; and a driving track in Camden and Currituck counties. Company literature says that it is the largest training facility in the country. In November 2006 Blackwater USA announced it recently acquired an 80-acre (30 ha) facility 150 miles (240 km) west of Chicago in Mount Carroll, Illinois to be called Blackwater North. This facility is also known as "The Site". This Xe facility has been operational since April 2007 and serves law enforcement agencies throughout the Midwest. Xe is also trying to open an 824-acre (3.33 km2) training facility three miles north of Potrero, a small town in rural east San Diego County, California located 45 miles (72 km) east of San Diego, for military and law enforcement training. The opening has faced heavy opposition from local residents, residents of nearby San Diego, a local Congressmember Bob Filner, and environmental and anti-war organizations. Opposition focused on a potential for wildfire increases, the proposed facility's proximity to the Cleveland National Forest, noise pollution, and opposition to the actions of Xe in Iraq. In response, Brian Bonfiglio, project manager for Blackwater West, said "There will be no explosives training and no tracer ammunition. Lead bullets don't start fires." In October 2007, when wildfires swept through the area, Xe made at least three deliveries of food, water, personal hygiene products and generator fuel to 300 residents near the proposed training site, many of whom had been trapped for days without supplies. They also set up a "tent city" for evacuees. On March 7, 2008, Blackwater withdrew its application to set up a facility in San Diego County.
In October 2007, Blackwater USA began a process of altering its name to Blackwater Worldwide, and unveiled a new logo. A Blackwater representative stated that the decision to change the logo was made before the September 16, 2007, Nisoor Square shootings, but was not changed officially until after. Many referred to the change as having eliminated the previous "cross hair" theme, replaced by a reticle instead.
On July 21, 2008, Blackwater Worldwide stated that they would shift resources away from security contracting because of extensive risk in that sector. "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," company founder and CEO Erik Prince told The Associated Press during a daylong visit to the company's North Carolina compound.
Prince announced his resignation as CEO on March 2, 2009. Prince will remain as chairman of the board but will no longer be involved in day-to-day operations. Joseph Yorio was named as the new president, replacing Gary Jackson. Danielle Esposito was named the new chief operating officer and executive vice president.
Erik Prince, (Founder of Blackwater)
J. Cofer Black, (Vice Chairman Blackwater)
U.S. Army Soldiers conduct a test near Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 28, 2007, of a new delivery system for getting Class I, III, and V items
to troops on the ground for extended missions. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. John P. Ledington) (The United States Army Homepage)
A Blackwater Security Company MD-530F helicopter aids in securing the site of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, on December 4,
2004, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.(U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Michael E. Best) (Released) (Released to Public)
United States Training Center (USTC, formerly Blackwater Training Center) offers tactics and weapons training to military, government, and law enforcement agencies. USTC also offers several open-enrollment courses periodically throughout the year, from hand to hand combat (executive course) to precision rifle marksmanship. They also offer courses in tactical and off road driving.
USTC's primary training facility, located on 7,000 acres (28 km2) in northeastern North Carolina, comprises several ranges, indoor, outdoor, urban reproductions, a man-made lake, and a driving track in Camden and Currituck counties. Company literature says that it is the largest training facility in the country. In November 2006 Blackwater USA announced it acquired an 80-acre (30 ha) facility 150 miles (240 km) west of Chicago, in Mount Carroll, Illinois to be called Blackwater North. That facility has been operational since April 2007 and serves law enforcement agencies throughout the Midwest.