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Timeline of Corporate Warriors from Blackwater
In less than a month, Blackwater Security will begin training urban guerillas in the woods of Northern Illinois. Their history began in 1991, when Dick Cheney contracted with Halliburton for a study of the future privatization of the US military, and soon their presence will be nationwide.
Corporate Warriors Come to IllinoisBy David Roknich (The Zephyr 02-06) Blackwater Security controls the largest private army in the world, with 20,000 soldiers, 20 aircraft, and a 7700 acre base in North Carolina. They have recently established a foothold in Illinois, which they call "Blackwater North".
Eight Miles north of Mount Carroll, Ill. a wooded area called "The Site" has long been used for target practice and law-enforcement training. On November 27, Blackwater Security announced that it has taken over all operations on the 80 acre facility, where it will be offering courses beginning in March.
Prior to the November 27th announcement, Blackwater's plans were largely under the radar, except for a few words from the former Sheriff of Jo Daviess County, who was interviewed by Alex Gary of the Rockford Register Star: "I’m not sure of everything that will be going on down there, but the uses basically are going to be the same," Melton said.
Melton has since been replaced by his Republican opponent in the November election, Leo Hefel, who was not available for comment today due to the stress that ice and snow has placed on the Sheriff's department in the rugged terrain of Jo Daviess County. I wanted to ask him if any of his men have signed up for training, since Blackwater has recently announced their intention to provide a "low cost alternative" to law enforcement agencies who need to provide advanced training for their personnel.
The nature of their courses certainly differs from what has been taught at "The Site" in previous years. One example is the "Bushmaster Carbine" training:
"Students will progress from basic handling and marksmanship skills to advanced shooting drills. This course will focus on techniques used in an urban environment."A "Target Town" is part of the planned renovation designed to offer the "full Blackwater experience". The equipment required will be available at the local "pro shop" and will include heavy duty assault weapons: students will learn how to use them in an urban environment.
Training for a new kind of war
Urban warfare has been a controversial, and key element in the military during the Bush administration. In order to accomplish this change in military "doctrine", Bush has had to replace every single general in the Office of Training and Doctrine: the last to go was four-star General Kevin P. Byrnes, who was driven out in a trumped-up sexual scandal only a few months before his scheduled retirement.
Timeline of the Corporate warriors
In 1996, Bill Clinton eliminated some of the legal obstacles faced by "corporate warriors" with executive orders intended to facilitate the drug war in Peru and Colombia. Jeremey Scahill reports that this was the year Eric Prince, a former Navy Seal, founded Blackwater "to fulfill the anticipated demand for government outsourcing."
The danger of these operations came to public attention in April of 2001, when a small plane carrying baptist missionaries was shot down under the guidance of US contractors in Iquitos, Peru. Investigations by congress and the CIA died with the rise of the Republican majority and the "War on terror". By 2003, Blackwater was in Chile recruiting former officers of the infamous dictator Pinochet, many of whom had been trained in torture at Fort Benning, Georgia.
On March 31, 2004 Blackwater became famous in the single act that may explain why we are still in Iraq this day. Four of their employees took a short cut through Fallujah the day after L. Paul Bremmer had closed the only newspaper in the town: al Hawza, whose editorials opposed the US occupation and supported Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The newspaper was important for more than idealogical reasons: according to interviews by the New York Times, it was one of the few remaining employers in the town. Riots followed. The four contractors were dismembered and dragged through the streets. That day was the beginning of what is now called the "insurgency", and Blackwater Security continues to profit from it.
When Katrina struck, Blackwater entered a new phase. On September 8, 2005 Russ Knocke, a spokesman for Homeland Security told the Washington Post there were no plans to hire Blackwater or any other private firms: 2 days later an investigation by Jeffery Scahill and Daniela Crespo indicated otherwise.
"This is a totally new thing to have guys like us working CONUS (Continental United States)," a heavily armed Blackwater mercenary told them as they stood on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. "We're much better equipped to deal with the situation in Iraq."
At present, there are more than 100,000 contractors in Iraq, and half of them are armed. They are exempt from the statistics and laws of the military. Many of them are hired through a new division within the Department of Commerce so that they do not even appear in the Defense Department Budget.
With equal stealth, they have established themselves in Illinois, less than an hour from the Wisconsin border, where the former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, has just purchased a 300 acre tract.
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