We first mentioned Blackwater Worldwide in a blog entry where we talked about modern maritime piracy. Let us now take a closer look at Blackwater, its history and its SEAL connection.
Blackwater Worldwide is a private military company that is currently the largest private security contractor among the three serving the U.S. State Department. It has almost a thousand contractors on its payroll, most of them U.S. citizens. A sizeable portion of their revenue is from contracts with the U.S. government, including providing security services in Iraq.
Blackwater was founded in 1997 under the company name Blackwater USA. Its founders were Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL, and Al Clark. The company’s initial function during its inception was providing training support to the military and various law enforcement organizations.
In 2002, they formed the Blackwater Security Consulting group under the company umbrella and became one of the private security firms employed by the government after the US went into Afghanistan.
The company is very discreet about their operations, and very little is known about their internal affairs other than general contract information. Aside from the US government, they also count among their clients prominent private firms and personalities.
In Iraq, they are tasked with protecting the US Embassy, state department employees and other US dignitaries. They also worked with the Department of Homeland Security in protecting government facilities, and were hired to assist in relief operations after Hurricane Katrina.
Due to the nature of their services, Blackwater Worldwide counts among its pool of contractors several former Navy SEALs. Aside from Prince, Blackwater’s President, Gary Jackson, was also a former Navy SEAL. Serving with them are some of their former comrades, ex-Navy SEALs and former special forces operatives, soldiers and retired law enforcers.
These are people with extraordinary skills, as is required for this kind of high-risk career. They have seen not too few casualties – reminiscent of the challenges and sacrifices they had to face as operatives of the US Armed Forces.