Blackwater Security Consulting
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into Constellis Holdings. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2014.|
- REDIRECT Constellis Holdings
|Type||Private military security firm|
|Headquarters||850 Puddin Ridge Road
Moyock, North Carolina, U.S.
|Key people||J. Cofer Black
Joseph E. Schmitz
Blackwater Security Consulting (BSC) was formed in 2001, that was based in Moyock, North Carolina. In 2007 the company became embroiled in the political fallout from an action in Iraq in which Blackwater employees shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians. Afterwards, after several management and name changes, the company is currently known as Constellis Holdings. This article is about Blackwater Security Company as it operated from 2001 through February 2009, while it operated under the "Blackwater" name. The company as Blackwater was one of the private security firms employed during the Iraq War to guard officials and installations, train Iraq's new Army and Police, and provided other support for Coalition Forces. The company was started to help train SEALS for combat. However, in the aftermath of 9/11, civilian security teams were needed by the United States Military.
Before 2001, tier-one contractors, or former members of elite, special forces units, were hired from a small pool of applicants. After the 9/11 attacks, Cofer Black, the former head of counter terrorism at the CIA requested that the federal government hire more contractors to operate overseas. Eventually, the CIA realized that large numbers of civilian contractors would be needed overseas to accomplish its broad goals, and turned to Blackwater.
By 2003, the ground war in Iraq changed into a diplomatic mission, demanding hundreds of diplomats and State Department employees. The government traditionally handles its own security, but it lacked the staff for high-risk protection details. Therefore a different type of protection was needed, and Blackwater would provide the solution.
Blackwater's founder, Erik Prince, has said that "not one State Department employee was killed while we were protecting them."
Blackwater's primary public contract was from the U.S. State Department under the Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Worldwide Personal Protective Services (WPPS) and WPPS II umbrella contracts, along with DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, Inc. for protective services in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Israel.
In July 2004 Blackwater was hired by the U.S. State Department under the Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Worldwide Personal Protective Services (WPPS) umbrella contract, along with DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, Inc. for protective services in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Israel. The applied for two years and expired on June 6, 2006. It authorized 482 personnel, and Blackwater received $488m for its work.
On September 1, 2005 following Hurricane Katrina, Blackwater dispatched a rescue team and helicopter, free of charge, to support relief operations. Following that, it was reported that the company also acted as law enforcement in the disaster stricken areas, such as securing neighborhoods and "confronting criminals". Blackwater moved about 200 personnel into the area hit by Hurricane Katrina, most of whom (164 employees) were working under a contract with the Department of Homeland Security to protect government facilities, but the company held contracts with private clients as well. Overall, Blackwater had a "visible, and financially lucrative, presence in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as the use of the company contractors cost U.S. taxpayers $240,000 a day."
In May 2006, the U.S. State Department awarded WPPS II, the successor to its previous diplomatic security contract. Under this contract, the State Department awarded Blackwater, along with Triple Canopy and DynCorp, a contract for diplomatic security in Iraq. Under this contract, Blackwater is authorized to have 1,020 staff in Iraq. Blackwater's responsibilities include the United States embassy in Iraq.
Blackwater has also assisted in several natural disasters, including the November 2007 California wildfire and rescuing a U.S. Army soldier in Mali following a severe tropical storm. Blackwater Security is also now pursuing domestic work as disaster relief workers, following their Katrina response. Blackwater officials have met with Arnold Schwarzenegger to discuss earthquake response services.
Blackwater Security Consulting is well equipped and known to use a variety of equipment, including helicopters and heavily armored vehicles. Many of the helicopters are registered to EP Aviation LLC. Their most commonly used helicopter is the MD-530F "Little Bird" helicopter, which assists Blackwater's Quick Response Force (QRF) teams. AB 412 utility helicopters are in use in Iraq. At least one SA-330 Puma helicopter is owned by Blackwater.
Blackwater uses a variety of armored vehicles. They include the BAE Systems Land Systems OMC RG-31 Mambas, purchased from the British Army are known to be used to transport personnel along Route Irish as well as the Force Protection Industries Cougar H. Bearcat armored vehicles are also used for convoy escort roles in Iraq.
On March 31, 2004, Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah attacked a convoy containing four American private military contractors from Blackwater USA who were conducting delivery for food caterers ESS. The four armed contractors Scott Helvenston, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague, were attacked and killed with grenades and small arms fire. Their bodies were hung from a bridge crossing the Euphrates. This event was one of the causes of the US military attack on the city in the First Battle of Fallujah. In the fall of 2007, a congressional report by the House Oversight Committee found that Blackwater intentionally "delayed and impeded" investigations into the contractors' deaths. The report also acknowledges that members of the now-defunct Iraqi Civil Defense Corps "led the team into the ambush, facilitated blocking positions to prevent the team's escape, and then disappeared
In April 2004, a small team of Blackwater employees, along with a fire team of U.S. Marines, held off over 400 insurgents outside the Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters in Al Najaf, Iraq, waiting for U.S. troops to arrive. The headquarters was surrounded and it was the last area in the city that remained in coalition control. During the siege, as supplies and ammunition ran low, a team of Blackwater contractors 70 miles (113 km) away flew to the compound to resupply and bring an injured U.S. Marine back to safety outside of the city.  In April 2005 six Blackwater independent contractors were killed in Iraq when their Mi-8 helicopter was shot down. Also killed were three Bulgarian crewmembers and two Fijian gunners. Initial reports indicate the helicopter was shot down by rocket propelled grenades. In 2006 a car accident occurred in the Baghdad Green Zone when an SUV driven by Blackwater operatives crashed into a U.S. Army Humvee. Blackwater guards disarmed the Army soldiers and forced them to lie on the ground at gunpoint until they could disentangle their SUV from the wreck.
Five Blackwater contractors were killed on January 23, 2007 in Iraq when their Hughes H-6 helicopter was shot down. The incident happened on Baghdad's Haifa Street. The crash site was secured by a personal security detail, callsign "Jester" from 1/26 Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. A U.S. defense official has confirmed that four of the five killed were shot execution style in the back of the head, but did not know whether the four had survived the crash. In late May 2007, Blackwater contractors opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days. The first incident occurred when a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad. The following incident occurred when an Iraqi vehicle drove too close to a convoy. However, according to incident testimony, the Blackwater guards tried to wave off the driver, shouted, fired a warning shot into the car's radiator, finally shooting into the car's windshield. On May 30, 2007, Blackwater employees shot an Iraqi civilian deemed to have been "driving too close" to a State Department convoy being escorted by Blackwater contractors. Other private security contractors, such as Aegis Defence Services have also been accused of similar actions.
On September 16, 2007, Blackwater guards opened fire in Nisour Square, Baghdad in defense of a convoy transporting US State Department workers. The incident, known as the Blackwater Baghdad shootings, resulted in the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians. Some witnesses claimed that the attack was unprovoked and that the soldiers, in the employ of the U.S., continued firing while the Iraqi civilians were fleeing. However, Blackwater maintained that its guards were under attack and responded accordingly. The FBI initially found that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified and found no evidence to support assertions by Blackwater employees that they were fired upon by Iraqi civilians. However, in 2009 FBI investigators were unable to match the bullets from the shooting to those guns carried by Blackwater contractors, leaving open the possibility that insurgents also fired at the victims. CEO Erik Prince testified before the United States Congress on October 2, 2007 that no one guarded by Blackwater in Iraq has ever suffered a fatality or serious injury.
In early January 2008, Blackwater evacuated three American missionaries in Kenya using a 10 passenger single engine aircraft, picking them up at an airstrip near the village of Kimilili.
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