Prince at a board meeting in July 2008
|Born||Erik Dean Prince
June 6, 1969
Holland, Michigan, U.S.
|Residence||Abu Dhabi, UAE|
|Education||U.S. Naval Academy
Hillsdale College (B.A.)
|Occupation||Private military company executive, businessman|
|Known for||Founder of Blackwater USA|
|Title||Chairman and CEO of the Prince Group and Blackwater Worldwide|
|Religion||Christian; a convert to the Roman Catholic Church, raised in the Calvinist Christian Reformed Church in North America|
|Spouse(s)||Joan Nicole Prince (deceased 2003)
Joanna Ruth Prince, neé Houck (2004-2012)
|Children||7; 4 from his first marriage and 3 from his second|
|Parents||Edgar D. Prince and Elsa Prince-Broekhuizen|
|Relatives||Betsy DeVos (sister)|
Erik Dean Prince (born June 6, 1969) is an American businessman and former U.S. Navy SEAL, best known for founding the world's largest private military company, Blackwater USA, in 1997. He served as its CEO until 2009 and later as chairman until Blackwater Worldwide was sold in 2010 to a group of investors. Prince currently lives in the United Arab Emirates.
Early life and education 
Prince was born on June 6, 1969, in Holland, Michigan to Edgar D. Prince and Elsa Broekhuizen, the youngest of four children. Both his parents share Dutch heritage (the family name, Prins, was at some point anglicized to Prince). He graduated from Holland Christian High School.
Prince and his father toured the world together, visiting the German concentration camp Dachau, a divided Berlin, and Normandy. According to his mother, these trips "made a big impression" on the young Prince.
Prince was accepted into the United States Naval Academy and attended it for three semesters before leaving, citing that he loved the Navy but disliked the Academy. He went on to receive his B.A. in economics from Hillsdale College in 1992. During his time at Hillsdale, Prince served as a volunteer firefighter and as a cold-water diver for the Hillsdale County Sheriff's Department. Prince eventually became an emergency medical technician.
In 1990, Prince secured a low-level internship in the White House under George H. W. Bush, but soon left to intern for California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, President Ronald Reagan's former speechwriter. Rohrabacher described Prince as "a bright, driven young man." At the age of 21, Prince volunteered to search for a mass grave in Nicaragua, to expose killings under president Daniel Ortega and later claimed in an interview in Men's Journal that he found "...a mass grave: bones sticking out of the ground, hands tied with wire at the wrists.".
After Hillsdale College, Prince was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy via Officer Candidate School in 1992. He went on to become a Navy SEAL and deployed with SEAL Team 8 to Haiti, the Middle East, and the Balkans. He credits the SEALs for being an outlet for his entrepreneurial spirit.
Prince ended his U.S. Navy service prematurely in 1995 when his father died. Prince's mother sold the Prince Corporation for $1.3 billion in cash to Johnson Controls. He moved to Virginia Beach and personally financed the formation of Blackwater Worldwide in 1997. He bought 6,000 acres (24 km2) of the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina and set up a school for special operations. The name "Blackwater" comes from the peat-colored bogs in which the school is located.
Prince credits the Rwandan genocide with his decision to start Blackwater. He told an audience in his native Holland, Michigan, "It really bothered me. It made me realize you can't sit back and pontificate. You have to act."
Since 1997, the firm has been awarded more than $1.6 billion in unclassified federal contracts and an unknown amount of classified work. It became the largest of the State Department's three private security companies, providing 987 guards for embassies and bases abroad.
Since 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has awarded up to $600 million in classified contracts to Blackwater and its affiliates. The Barack Obama administration awarded the company a $120 million United States Department of State security contract and about $100 million in new CIA work in 2010.
Prince takes great pride in the work Blackwater has done and points to its successes. According to him, out of 40,000 personal security missions, only 200 involved guards discharging their weapons. "No one under our care was ever killed or injured. We kept them safe, all the while we had 30 of our men killed."
Prince, according to Robert Young Pelton reportedly thinks of Blackwater's relationship to the military as something similar to FedEx's relationship to the U.S. Post Office "an efficient, privatized solution to sclerotic and wasteful government bureaucracy." He credits his father's competitive streak in the automotive business with the inspiration to design a lighter, faster army.
In recent years Blackwater has come under criticism, but Prince believes that much of this criticism stems from politics. "I put myself and my company at the CIA's disposal for some very risky missions," Prince told Vanity Fair for its January 2010 issue. "But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus."
Prince resigned as CEO of Blackwater on March 2, 2009 and remained as chairman of the board until he sold the company in late 2010 to a group of investors.
Disclosure as part of a covert CIA task force 
Prince was part of a secret CIA task force created to kill terrorists. The House intelligence congressional committee leaked his name to the press. Prince compared himself to the target of the similar government leak of Valerie Plame:
"Valerie Plame’s identity was compromised for political reasons. A special prosecutor [was even] appointed. Well, what happened to me was worse. People acting for political reasons disclosed not only the existence of a very sensitive program but my name along with it."
Later work 
In January 2011, the Associated Press reported that Prince had taken on a new role training a force of 2000 Somalis for anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The program is reportedly funded by several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates and backed by the United States. Prince's spokesman, Mark Corallo, said that Prince has "no financial role" in the project and declined to answer any questions about Prince's involvement. The Somali force will also reportedly pursue an Islamist supporting warlord.
The Associated Press quotes John Burnett of Maritime Underwater Security Consultants as saying "There are 34 nations with naval assets trying to stop piracy and it can only be stopped on land. With Prince's background and rather illustrious reputation, I think it's quite possible that it might work."
Prince is serving as an advisor to Chinese investors in Africa. He created an investment fund of $100 million for this purpose.
Personal life 
Prince's father, Edgar D. Prince, began Prince Machine Corporation, an automobile supply company, in 1965. The business "exploded" and Prince began to invest some of the profits, through the Prince Group, into shopping malls and other types of car parts, creating a network of companies and real estate worth a billion dollars. In the early 1970s, Edgar Prince's company patented a sun visor that could light up and sold 5,000 to General Motors. When the company was sold in the 90s, the company produced 20,000 a day.
In 1995, after the death of his father, Erik assumed control of daily operations, which was eventually sold for $1.35 billion in 1996. Prince is the brother of Betsy DeVos, a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and wife of former Alticor (Amway) president and Gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos.
Philanthropy and political views 
"I'm a very free market guy. I'm not a huge believer that government provides a whole lot of solutions. Some think that government can solve society's problems. I tend to think private charities and private organizations are better solutions."
Prince credits his time as a White House intern with some of his views. He said that "Having that White House internship responsibility and badges, I walked around some of these other cavernous federal agencies, and you want to talk about depressing? Walk through HHS or HUD or Commerce, you name it. Leviathan realized."
Prince serves as vice president of the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, which his family founded. Prince has donated heavily to both Christian and Islamic causes, building mosques at Blackwater's overseas bases, and supporting a Muslim orphanage in Afghanistan. He financed the film The Stoning of Soraya M. Salon reports that "between July 2003 and July 2006, the foundation gave at least $670,000 to the Family Research Council and $531,000 to Focus on the Family," headed by James Dobson. The foundation is a major donor to Calvin College, a Christian institution in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Prince has been an advocate of a leaner, more efficient military. He suggests several ways to make the military more efficient without compromising security. His suggestions are: greater accountability of costs, using appropriate equipment for each job, reduction of overhead, and operational and procurement reform.
In a televised interview with Charlie Rose, Prince discussed his offer to George Clooney of sending a humanitarian mission to Darfur. Prince expressed disdain over international inaction in the face of the Rwandan genocide:
|“||Who can watch the movie 'Hotel Rwanda' and not wish it had a different outcome? Who didn't wish that the UN would have sent troops or yank those Belgian commandos back there to secure that hotel and provide some safe havens? You let almost a million people in a country about the size of Maryland get killed by farm tools over four months".||”|
- Pelton, Robert Young (2006). Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror. New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 1400097819.
- Simons, Suzanne (2009). Master of War: Blackwater USA's Erik Prince and the Business of War. New York City: Harper. ISBN 978-0-06-165135-9.
- Pelton, Robert Young (November 2010). "An American Commando In Exile". Men's Journal. - Prince spends his last two days in America with Pelton.
- Scahill, Jeremy (2007). Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.
- Risen, James (August 17, 2010). "Blackwater's Erik Prince Moves to Abu Dhabi". The New York Times.
- Pelton 2006, p. 291
- "Erik Prince: Blackwater, Xe, the New Christian Crusade". TruthisTreason.
- Ready for battle by Jim Schaefer, M.L. Elrick and Todd Spangler, The Detroit Free Press, October 7, 2007.
- Simons 2009, pp. 11–12
- "Erik Prince exclusive interview".
- Simons 2009, p. 19
- White-Collar Mercenary Under Fire by Marc Pitzke, Der Spiegel, October 3, 2007,
- Pelton, Robert Young. "An American Commando in Exile". Men's Journal. Men's Journal. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
- The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, "Blackwater's top brass", July 24, 2006.
- The Man Behind Blackwater." Newsweek, October 23, 2007, pages 36–39.
- Simons 2009
- Strobel, Warren P. (June 28, 2010). "Obama spares Blackwater on Sudan violations". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Sengupta, Kim (June 9, 2010). "Blackwater founder to sell up as criticism takes its toll". The Independent (London).
- Pelton 2006, p. 2
- Pelton 2006, p. 3
- "Blackwater Founder in Deal to Sell Company". The New York Times. December 16, 2010.
- Simons, Suzanne (2009). Master of War. Harper Collins. p. 10.
- Robert Young Pelton (November 30, 2010). "An American Commando in Exile". Men's Journal. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
- Pelton 2006, p. 291
- Ciralsky, Adam (January 2010). "Scandal: Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
- Simons, 20
- Simons, Suzanne (2009). Master of War: Blackwater USA's Erik Prince and the Business of War. New York City: Harper. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-06-165135-9.
- The Bush administration's ties to Blackwater, by Ben Van Heuvelen, Salon, October 2, 2007.
- Mike Barker, AP, "Testimony Lifts Veil on Blackwater Boss", October 2, 2007.
- Grilled Blackwater chairman a major GOP donor by Andrew Malcolm, The Baltimore Sun, October 4, 2007
- Beck, Glenn (2010). Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth and Treasure. New York, NY: Mercury Radio Arts, Inc. p. 405. ISBN 978-1-4391-8719-7.
- "Prince interview". YouTube.