‘Prince of Mercenaries’ who wreaked havoc in Iraq turns up in Somalia

via Poor Richard’s Blog

By Guy Adams at independent.co.uk

Blackwater founder sets up new force to tackle piracy.

Erik Prince, the American founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, has cropped up at the centre of a controversial scheme to establish a new mercenary force to crack down on piracy and terrorism in the war-torn East African country of Somalia.

The project, which emerged yesterday when an intelligence report was leaked to media in the United States, requires Mr Prince to help train a private army of 2,000 Somali troops that will be loyal to the country’s United Nations-backed government. Several neighbouring states, including the United Arab Emirates, will pay the bills.

Mr Prince is working in Somalia alongside Saracen International, a murky South African firm which is run by a former officer from the Civil Co-operation Bureau, an apartheid-era force notorious for killing opponents of the white minority government.
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News of his latest project has alarmed, though hardly surprised, critics of Blackwater. The firm made hundreds of millions of dollars from the “war on terror”, but was severely tarnished by a string of incidents in post-invasion Iraq, in which its employees were accused of committing dozens of unlawful killings.

Mr Prince, a 41-year-old former US Navy Seal with links to the Bush administration, subsequently rebranded the company “Xe Services” and sold his stake in it. But he remains entangled in a string of lawsuits pertaining to the alleged recklessness of the firm.

For most of the past year, he has been living in Abu Dhabi, where he has close relations with the government and feels better positioned to dodge lawsuits. In an interview with a men’s magazine, he recently declared that the UAE’s opaque legal system will make it “harder for the jackals to get my money”.

The exact nature of his sudden presence in Somalia remains unclear. The Associated Press said yesterday that the army Mr Prince is training will focus on fighting pirates and Islamic rebels.

The leaked intelligence report which prompted the news agency’s story was compiled by the African Union, an organisation of African nations. It claimed that Mr Prince’s money had enabled Saracen International to gain the contract to train and run the private militia. But that element of the report was flatly contradicted by a spokesman for the Blackwater founder, who claimed that Mr Prince had “no financial role of any kind in this matter”.

In a written statement, the spokesman, Mark Corallo, added: “it is well known that he has long been interested in helping Somalia overcome the scourge of piracy. To that end, he has at times provided advice to many different anti-piracy efforts.” He declined to answer any further questions.

Whatever the exact details of Mr Prince’s role, his presence in Somalia will inevitably lead to renewed soul-searching about the growing privatisation of warfare. Critics of mercenary organisations, which are often prepared to operate where traditional armies fear to tread, claim they are often trigger-happy and lack proper accountability. In Iraq, Blackwater employees shot dead dozens of civilians; 17 people were killed in one incident alone in Nisour Square, Baghdad.

Criminal charges were eventually brought in the US against five Blackwater employees. However, they were dropped in 2009 after a federal judge ruled that the defendants’ rights had been violated during the gathering of evidence. Iraq’s Interior Ministry subsequently expelled all contractors who had worked with the firm at the time of the Nisour Square shooting.

Somalia, where the country’s UN-backed regime is fighting a civil war against al-Shabaab, a group of Islamic insurgents with links to al-Qa’ida, is, if anything, a more volatile country than post-invasion Iraq.

The government controls only a small portion of the capital, Mogadishu, where it has the support of 8,000 UN troops from Uganda and Burundi. It is training an army to extend its reach, but observers fear that its ranks will be weakened by the arrival of Mr Prince – who will pay his troops a far better wage.

Saracen’s shady corporate structure has not inspired confidence in its accountability. In 2002, the UN accused its Ugandan subsidiary of training rebel paramilitaries in the Congo. Recently, the firm has claimed to be registered to addresses in Lebanon, Liberia, Uganda and the UAE, some of which seemed not to exist when reporters tried visiting.

Read more articles at independent.co.uk

Lockheed Gets Big Bucks to Prep Soldiers for Urban War

By spencer Ackerman at wired.com

 

By the end of the year, the U.S. Army will leave Iraq. But Iraq isn’t going to leave the U.S. Army.
American soldiers spent seven years patrolling the urban neighborhoods of Iraq; its troops battled insurgents there block-by-block and house-by-house. Now that the Army is getting out of Iraq, it wants to make sure its urban combat skills don’t wither away. So it today it gave Lockheed Martin a contract worth up to $287 million to build Urban Operations Training Systems — essentially, giant simulation facilities and modules to help soldiers get ready for life in the big, bad city.

Versions of those training systems can be as simple as shipping containers tricked out to resemble multi-story houses and arranged in village formations, so soldiers can practice how to seize a building without causing needless damage. The Army’s got an entire 1000-acre facility in Indiana it uses to train soldiers in urban combat.

The contract will include structures like those, which are known as Mobile Military Operations on Urban Terrain systems, or Mobile MOUTs. Lockheed says it’ll help soldiers drill on everything “from traditional war fighting tactics, to nation-building, to overseas contingency operations.” Overseas contingency operations is the new bureaucratic and budgetary term for what we used to call “wars.”

A statement from the company heralding the deal said that the new training systems were likely to include measures to simulate homemade bombs, an indicator that the Army doesn’t think the threat from the signature weapon of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is likely to diminish. That in turn has implications for other stuff the Army wants to buy — especially the new Ground Combat Vehicle, the service’s next-generation transporter. The Army and the Marine Corps have faced criticism for buying so many armored Humvees and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, on the assumption that they’ll rot in the motor pool if troops don’t have to roll through terrain laced with homemade bombs in the future. That may not be a chance the Army wants to take.

Training isn’t destiny, and just because the Army wants to keep urban combat in its toolkit doesn’t mean it’s looking to go stomping through any foreign capitals. One of the Army’s biggest internal criticisms after finding itself mired unexpectedly in Iraq was that its post-Vietnam officers deliberately unlearned how to fight insurgents. Look for the exact opposite to happen here: Army gadflies like Col. Gian Gentile of West Point warn that the Army’s assuming that unpredictable future land wars are going to look too much like today’s counterinsurgencies.

A different aspect to the urban-training scenario offered by Lockheed: “live, virtual and constructive mission domains,” the statement says. Whether that means, in part, videogame-based training remains to be seen. But at the Army’s recent annual conference in D.C., the service was showing off a sophisticated first-person-shooter modeled on eastern Afghanistan’s rugged, mountainous terrain. If Call of Duty can rig up an urban-warfare videogame, presumably one of the world’s largest defense companies can too.

Read More Articles at wired.com

Blackwater guards indicted for murder

blackwater 070919 mn1 Blackwater guards indicted for murder

A federal grand jury has added an additional indictment to a former Blackwater empl

oyee involved in the murders of two Afghan civilians in May of 2009, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Two Blackwater guards have been charged with second-degree murder for the fatal shootings.

The Virginian-Pilot reports,

[Christopher] Drotleff, of Virginia Beach, and [Justin] Cannon, of Corpus Christi, Texas, were working for a subsidiary of Blackwater, also known as Xe, to train the Afghan police force in Kabul. The indictment alleges they were drinking that day when they became involved in a traffic accident and began firing their weapons at another car.

Drotleff and Cannon say they fired in self-defense, in fear for their lives, at a car that was speeding toward them. The government counters that the victims were all shot from behind.

Source

Cluster Bomb Manufacturers

Hi,
several people have asked whether Raytheon actually manufactures cluster bombs.

In discussing these it is necessary to distinguish between individual “bomblets” and delivery systems – the cluster bombs or missile wareheads. Different contractors manufacture bomblets and delivery systems.

Here are some descriptions of cluster bombs:

I took as my starting point for investigating Raytheon’s involvement with cluster bombs this Indymedia article

The article identified Raytheon Tamahawk and the JSOW AGM-154 missile as delivery vehicles for the BLU/97B bomblet.

The BLU/97B is a bomblet hundreds of which are packed together to create a cluster bomb.

Description of bomblet is at http://www.designation-systems.net/usmilav/asetds/u-b.html

It is manufactured by Alliant Techsystems.
The evidence for this is here (see half way down page, find on page: BLU 97/B)
also see here (just over half way down page, find in page: Alliant Techsystems).

The BLU/97B is used as payload in the following cluster bombs and guided missiles

I think this shows conclusively that Raytheon manufactures missiles with cluster bomb warheads which deploy the BLU/97B bomblet.

Julius

Source: This World Is Not For Sale

Profile: General Atomics

General Atomics.png
Type Private
Founded 1955
Headquarters San Diego, California, U.S.
Key people Neal Blue
Linden Blue
Website www.ga.com

General Atomics is a nuclear physics and defense contractor headquartered in San Diego, California. General Atomics’ research into fission and fusion matured into competencies in related technologies, allowing the company to expand into other fields of research. General Atomics and its affiliated companies are a leading resource for systems development ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, and advanced electric, electronic, wireless and laser technologies.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, provides unmanned aerial vehicles and radar solutions for military and commercial applications worldwide. The company’s Aircraft Systems Group is a leading designer and manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), including the Predator, Predator B, Sky Warrior and Predator C. The Reconnaissance Systems Group designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)/GMTI radar into both manned and unmanned aircraft, as well as the CLAW sensor control and image analysis software, and integrates sensor and communications equipment into manned ISR aircraft.

MQ-9 Reaper in Afghanistan.

source: Wikipedia

KBR to Get No-Bid Army Work as U.S. Alleges Kickbacks

KBR Inc. was selected for a no-bid contract worth as much as $568 million through 2011 for military support services in Iraq, the Army said.

The Army announced its decision yesterday only hours after the Justice Department said it will pursue a lawsuit accusing the Houston-based company of taking kickbacks from two subcontractors on Iraq-related work. The Army also awarded the work to KBR over objections from members of Congress, who have pushed the Pentagon to seek bids for further logistics contracts.

Rest of story HERE…

DynCorp Running “Counter-Narcotics” Missions Along Pakistan/Afghanistan Border

Counter-Narcotics. *wink*

Via: Wired:

The airspace along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border is pretty crowded these days: Along with U.S., Afghan and Pakistani military missions, the CIA is running its own covert drone ops. Less well known, but perhaps equally controversial, is the State Department’s counter-narcotics air force, staffed by mercenaries.

A recently released State Department Inspector General report, however, gave an unusually detailed look at the size and scope of these operations. The report fills in more details about America’s growing and undeclared war in Pakistan.

The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (known by the abbreviation INL) operates an air wing of around 14 aircraft in Afghanistan and another 17 in Pakistan. The aircraft help monitor the border, fly crop-eradication and interdiction missions, and move equipment and personnel around the region.

These kinds of missions aren’t new: The State Department has similar Air Wing programs in Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru. Perhaps more importantly, the State Department has outsourced much of this mission. The INL’s air wing in Afghanistan and Pakistan is operated by private military company DynCorp, and the presence of U.S. contractors in Pakistan has proven extremely controversial (the released IG report, not surprisingly, was originally marked “sensitive but unclassified”).