War for money. Leading private military companies of the world.

Alex Kemeroff
Feb 16, 2018 · 16 min read

In international peacekeeping operations of the present, private military companies occupy an equal position with regular armies. Moreover, based on the conclusions of American experts, such military corporations will play an increasingly important role in armed local conflicts and wars in the future.

As of today, it is quite obvious (from the experience of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq) that the existence of PMC influences the course of events, and sometimes they take on most of the functions of police and army.

It should be noted that the American government has always viewed the Middle East as a region of compulsory military presence of its army, because there are not only energy resources, but also the ability to control vast territories under the guise of spreading democracy. For the last decades, armed conflicts have been constantly taking place in the Middle East. Therefore, we can safely say that, in addition to American private military companies, corporations of other countries will also appear on the continent. Already, there are many of them.

ACADEMI

One of the most famous private military companies is the American security firm Blackwater (“Black Water”). It was founded in 1997 by former commando Eric Prince, along with the shooting trainer El Clark. A few years later, another company was created, which was essentially its new branch, Blackwater Security Consulting, whose fighters took part in military operations in Afghanistan. However, there is practically no information on its activities during this period, as the US government is clearly not interested in disclosing information of this kind.

In 2003, the fighters of the corporation designated their presence in Iraq. Officially the Blackwater fighters were training the local police and army units. The first documented losses were incurred by the firm in 2004 (the death of 4 employees). At the time when the fighters of this organization were taken out of Iraq, there were 987 soldiers, 775 of whom had US citizenship.

In 2009, the structure was renamed to Xe Services LLC, but it did not change the essence of its activities. In 2010 the company was renamed Academi.

At the disposal of the company there are many training bases not only on the territory of the United States, but also in other countries, where more than 40,000 people train annually. And it itself consists of a large number of subsidiaries and divisions. Currently Blackwater (Xe Services LLC, Academi) is the largest organization of its kind in the world.

The company has a headquarters located in North Carolina.

The main income of Academi fighters is derived from participation in various armed conflicts, about 90 percent of the profits the firm receives from contracts with the US government. Statistically, the picture is as follows: if in 2001 the company received about $ 735,000 from the US budget, then in 2005 this amount increased to 25 million, and a year later it reached $ 600 million.

Every day, one mercenary from Academi costs the US state $ 1200 (for comparison: a soldier of the regular army — only 150–190 dollars).

Scandalous fame the company acquired after the massacres during its participation in the war in Iraq. The Academi fighters were involved in operations that resulted in the death of a large number of civilians in Baghdad. In addition, there are rumors that the company is engaged in arms smuggling. So, in particular, a loud scandal occurred in March 2010, when more than five hundred Kalashnikov rifles and other weapons disappeared from American warehouses in Afghanistan. In September, several employees of the company were charged with illegal arms trafficking.

On the other hand, Blackwater took part in rescue operations to eliminate the consequences of the most devastating hurricane in the history of the United States “Katrina”, which was sent to about two hundred employees. During the entire period of this operation, the company received 240 thousand dollars of income daily.

As mentioned above, at the moment the company Academi is a huge military company that specializes in orders for military operations and escorts. In addition, each division that is part of the corporation, performs this or that activity. In particular, Blackwater Maritime Solutions is training special forces of naval forces of many countries, for example, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Greece. In addition, this unit was engaged in the training of US sailors destroyer URO USS Cole, as well as providing protection for diplomats in Afghanistan, Israel, Iraq and Bosnia.

In 2003, the corporation bought Aviation Worldwide Services, which has three subsidiaries involved in the repair and maintenance of aircraft. This company also cooperates very actively with the US military department, has at its disposal several MD-530 helicopters and CASA 212 and Boeing 767 aircraft used during the war in Iraq. The same firm was engaged in cargo transportation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Academi also includes Blackwater Airships, which designs drones, the Blackwater Armored Vehicle, which is engaged in the construction of light armored vehicles, the Raven Development Group, engaged in construction activities, K-9, which prepares service dogs. The brain of the corporation can be called Xe Watch, which monitors all activities of corporate units, collects information about military conflicts, arms smuggling and other data related to the military sphere.

The official press release of the company indicates that it also provides security and transportation services, air transportation, logistics and army support and humanitarian support. In addition, Academi staff help in establishing law and order in disaster areas.

Note that this company is among the five companies that were selected by the US government to supply equipment and provide services to combat drug trafficking.

The company Academi has great opportunities and resources and enjoys the frank patronage of the US government, so even after the massacres with civilians during armed conflicts, no mercenary was held accountable or even dismissed.

G4S

The second largest private security company in the world is the G4S. The number of its employees reaches 657 thousand people. It is a multinational firm that provides security services, its headquarters is in the United Kingdom, in the city of Kroli.

Representative offices of the company exist in 125 countries. G4S was founded in 2004 after the merger of the Danish company Group 4 Falck and British Securicor PLC. From 2006 to 2008, the company was the object of criticism of trade unions, whose leaders argued that subsidiaries do not respect human rights and labor safety standards. In 2008, the G4S began to provide security at major music and sports competitions. And the reason for this expansion of services was the acquisition of Rock Steady Group, which specializes in such areas of security. In addition, in 2008, RONCO Consulting Corporation, which is one of the leading firms specializing in commercial and humanitarian mine clearance and ammunition disposal, was also bought. In the same year, G4S bought Armor Group International and completed the acquisition of Global Solutions Limited.

In 2009, the company continued to buy security companies. In particular, the leaders of the British market of commercial and technical consulting, as well as the leader in providing support for basic operations and controls, were bought by the American provider of integrated security systems and communication systems.

In the company G4S also did not do without scandals. In 2009, a prisoner from Western Australia died, who was transported by company employees in a car not equipped with air conditioning and without access to water. But then the criminal case was chosen not to wind. In the same year, the infamous robbery of the Västerborg helicopter happened. After the analysis of the robbery, the policemen and employees of the company were subjected to sharp criticism.

In the same year, employees of the Australian G4S office announced a strike due to the fact that the company did not care about the working conditions of personnel and did not pay a decent salary. This led to the threat that the entire judicial system of the Australian state of Victoria was threatened.

In 2011, G4S bought Guidance Monitoring, a company specializing in the development and production of electronic monitoring technologies, including software and hardware used to track offenders. At the end of the same year, the company bought the assets of Chubb, a company that specializes in emergency response in the UK.

The main activity of the company is focused on the provision of security services, the provision of money security services (transportation of valuables and money), the integration of security services. In addition, the company’s employees ensure the detention of the perpetrators on behalf of the police, provide security services at airports. The company is working on the introduction of security systems, provides logistical services to banks and provides money management, participates in consulting, risk management and security support in areas with limited security infrastructure. In addition, G4S personnel are engaged in ground clearance of munitions, train personnel, and provide a revenue protection service for British railway companies.

Among the clients of the corporation there are both the governments of many sovereign states, corporations, financial institutions and utilities, and airports and seaports, logistics and transport providers and private individuals.

In 2011, the company’s management signed the UN Global Compact, which is an international standard for promoting business behavior, including labor protection, human rights, fighting corruption and protecting the environment.

FDG Corp.

Another American military private company — the so-called “Group R” (Fort Defense Group Corporation, FDG Corp.) — was founded in 1996 by Marines A. Rodriguez. A few years later his partner was Russian officer D. Smirnov. Its headquarters is in Jacksonville. The company has concentrated its main activities in virtually all hot spots in the world — Somalia, the Gulf of Aden, Iraq, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Palestine, Gaza and Afghanistan. The company is engaged in the provision of services such as the protection of ships and cargo, military logistics, maritime and land transportation, the training of special units and security teams for operations in high-risk areas, military counseling. A special role in the organization is assigned to the FDG SEAL division, which includes swimmers-guards who can counter terrorism on a high professional level both on the water and under it.

The company worked in the Gulf of Aden, assisting the Government of Somalia, in Guinea-Bissau, its staff assisted in the clearance and disposal of military waste and the organization of the Coast Guard.

The company’s fame brought operations for the transportation of humanitarian and military cargo to Africa, the protection of roadblocks in the province of Iraq Anbar in 2006–2007, the security of the delegation of veterans in Afghanistan during the opening of the 9th Roteh memorial in 2011, escorting American missions in the Gaza Strip in 2007 year. In addition, the company’s fighters noted participation in operations in Iraq, “Desert Fox” and “Desert Storm”, as well as escorting oil tankers from the port of Umm Qasr to the countries of Indochina.

In 2010, the company underwent significant legal and organizational-staff changes to optimize operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

DynCorp

Among the largest private military companies in the United States is DynCorp. The company derives its origin from two companies that were founded in 1946: Land-AirInc, which was involved in technical maintenance of aircraft, and California Eastern Airways, which specialized in aviation business transportation. The latter was founded by military pilots. They founded the air freight market and received a contract for servicing American troops during the Korean War. In addition, a contract was signed with the “White Sands” rocket range. Some experts are sure that this company was connected with the CIA.

The company “Land-AirInc” in 1951 was acquired by “California Eastern Airways”. A year later, another merger occurred — with AIRCAR, which specialized in selling commercial aircraft and spare parts for foreign governments and airlines.

In 1961, the company was rebranded, which was named “Dynalectron Corporation”. After the expansion of the company, it was divided into several main groups: energy, contract, aviation and government services. For three decades of its existence, the company absorbed 19 other companies, the number of employees reached 7 thousand people, and the annual income reached 300 million dollars.

During the period 1976–1981, the company absorbed 14 more firms and by 1986 became the leader in the defense order market in North America. A year later the company changed its name to “DynCorp”. The company’s revenues by 1994 amounted to more than $ 1 billion, and three years later they exceeded $ 2.4 billion. The company bought four dozen companies and increased the number of employees to 24 thousand people.

DynCorp was involved in testing missile technology for the US military department, developing vaccines, installing security systems in the American embassies. Then, after another business diversification, the company bought another 19 companies that were engaged in the production of digital services, as a result of which “DynCorp” received government contracts in the field of information technology. In 2003, about 50 percent of the company’s business comprised IT services for the FBI, the CIA.

Currently, DynCorp receives annual revenues in excess of $ 3.4 billion a year, employs more than 10,000 people and works in such areas as air operations, rehabilitation and development, maintenance and operation, intelligence training , security services.

In particular, the company’s employees provide air support in the course of conducting operations to suppress drug trafficking, combating terrorism. In addition, the training of pilots of the Air Force of Afghanistan. During the war in Iraq, DynCorp was engaged in conducting search and rescue operations, deploying rapid reaction forces, medical evacuation.

Currently, corporation employees serve American military aircraft and helicopters, provide air support in the fight against forest fires.

In 2010, the company set up a special department to provide humanitarian assistance in post-conflict and conflict zones, and carry out reforms. Thus, the specialists of the company helped to strengthen the state financial management in Ghana, restore peaceful life in Uganda, organize anti-corruption programs in Malawi, Madagascar and Nigeria.

Since 2010, the corporation has begun to conduct training courses for intelligence services. At the moment, there are about 300 professionals in the company’s staff who are ready to provide counterintelligence and intelligence services, teach the basics of special operations, and train interpreters for the US Army.

In the company “DynCorp” also did not do without scandals. So, in the late 90’s, her employees were accused of pedophilia and child trafficking. During the investigation, evidence of these crimes was obtained. In addition, employees of the firm who worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina were accused of sex trafficking in 2000. Despite the fact that all the participants in the crimes were sent into retirement, none of them was brought to justice. And soon the company’s management admitted that even before that, several employees had been dismissed for such crimes.

And in 2001, Ecuadorian farmers accused DynCorp staff of spraying herbicides daily, which had a negative impact on the health of the local population and on yields.

Then there was another scandal: the company employees who trained police in Afghanistan, used child prostitution and took drugs.

MRPI

No less known is another American private military company MPRI. In 1987, it was founded by retired general V. Lewis. In its state there are about 350 former American generals. This company on a commercial basis is engaged in advising on the management and reform of the army (in Iraq), the selection and purchase of weapons (in Georgia), the development of doctrines and concepts (in Georgia), resolves situational and operational problems, humanitarian operations and military exercises. The firm provides services to the US government and the authorities of other states, acting in concert with the Pentagon and the CIA. At the moment, the company is headed by generals Soister, Vuono and Cresen.

MPRI has the largest database of US military specialists, and its staff has repeatedly participated in local conflicts and wars, in particular, assisted the government of Colombia, Liberia and Albanian militants in Macedonia, trained and planned the operations of the Croatian army in 1995. So, for example, in Croatia in August of 95th the successful operation “Storm” was conducted, which was organized by this company. However, later the MPRI leadership denied any involvement in the operation, as the Croats made ethnic cleansings during it. In turn, the Bosnian militants stated that they are ready to sign the Dayton agreements, but only if MPRI will prepare their army. Thus, the company continued to cooperate with the Kosovo Liberation Army in Albania in 1998–1999 and in Macedonia in 2000–2001.

It is well known that in Bosnia and Afghanistan the company’s employees fought in the “Islamic brigades”. On the one hand, this will say little to the ignorant person, but in fact they fought under the direct leadership of the CIA.

Thus, the American government, not interfering officially in political processes, achieved its goals.

In 2012, Serb public organizations protested against the company, accusing MPRI of involvement in the genocide of Serbs in 1995 in Croatia, because before the special operation the company specialists were training soldiers and officers of the armed forces of Croatia. Organizations demanded compensation of 10 billion dollars, that is, 25 thousand dollars for each Serb, expelled from the territory of Croatia.

At the same time, representatives of the company MPRI stated that they did not agree with the claims of the claim and the fact that the employees of the firm in the 1990s cooperated with Croatia can not be considered a violation of the UN sanctions that were imposed on Zagreb.

Currently, MPRI is the main conductor of US policy in Africa. At the moment, she participates in several programs to create a collective rapid reaction force that can conduct humanitarian and peacekeeping operations on the continent. The firm conducts active military reform in Nigeria. On the territory of Central Africa, the company chose Equatorial Guinea as its base after unsuccessful attempts to offer its services to the Government of the Congo.

Aegis Defence Service

There are private military companies in the UK. One of the most famous is Aegis Defense Services, which was founded in 2002 by former British Army officer T. Speiser. The company has its offices in Kenya, Iraq, Nepal, Bahrain, Afghanistan and the United States. The headquarters is located in the city of Basel.

The company employs 20,000 mercenaries. The main customer is the American government. Employees of this company are engaged in security activities in the aerospace, diplomatic and government sectors, as well as in the mining and oil and gas industries. Currently, the firm has a contract with the US government, which provides security in Iraq, and is estimated at $ 293 million. In addition, in 2011, she received a contract worth $ 497 million to protect the US government in Kabul.

Although officially a security company, it also provides armed services for the US government and UN missions. Geographically, its activities extend to Iraq, China, Greece, Congo, Kosovo, Nigeria, Sudan, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland, Tunic, UK, USA, Greece, Holland, Afghanistan, Nepal, Kenya and Bahrain, risks and protection of oil companies. The number of the company reaches about 5 thousand people.

In 2005, Aegis Defense Services seemed involved in a scandal, a video appeared on the Internet, at which the company’s employees shot at the peaceful Iraqi population. The company’s management did not admit blame, but the Pentagon refused further cooperation.

Erinys International

Another British military company, which was founded by the former British officer J. Garrath and the official of South African apartheid Sh.Kleari in 2002 and registered in the British Virgin Islands — Erinys International. In 2003, Cleary went away, and British intelligence officer A. Morrison took his place, but a year later he moved to Kroll Inc., which is the world’s largest financial intelligence firm.

Subsidiary companies Erinys are available in Britain, the Republic of the Congo, Cyprus and South Africa.

The company’s activity is focused mainly on providing security services, in particular, in areas of Central Africa with very difficult natural conditions. In addition, training courses for servicemen and consultations in the military sphere, participation in operational military activities, work in the intelligence services and the police can be singled out as activities. Employees of the company are former employees of British intelligence agencies and special units.

Erinys International accompanies US government contracts in Iraq. The largest mission was 16,000 fighters in more than 280 locations throughout the country that participated in ensuring the security of energy assets, in particular, pipelines.

Employees of the company showed themselves well during the wars in Iraq, when about 6.5 thousand soldiers were sent to guard important facilities.

The company also found itself at the center of the scandal when in 2004 the press published information about the ill-treatment of prisoners. The materials of the journalists testified that the employees of the company violated the human rights convention by applying cruel tortures in the course of the military investigation against the 16-year-old resident of Iraq.

At present, the company closely cooperates with oil and gas corporations, extractive industries, non-governmental organizations and public services. And in each of the contracts helps clients to assess possible risks, regardless of the remoteness of the region of work and the level of complexity. In addition, the company’s services are used by the US and British governments, as well as the UN.

Northbridge Services Group

There is also a joint American-British private military company Northbridge Services Group, whose base is located in the Dominican Republic, and branches in the UK and Ukraine. According to some estimates, the company has about three thousand former British military personnel, as well as several thousand former soldiers of the armies of France, South Africa and the United States.

Northbridge Services Group provides services for the needs of transnational corporations, governments and non-governmental organizations, individuals and the corporate sector.

Northbridge Services Group assists law enforcement agencies in combating drug trafficking, terrorism, unauthorized search for information and organized crime, and also helps in the protection of natural resources and maritime security. In 2012, the company’s financial revenues reached $ 50.5 million.

In 2003 the post of the head of the company was occupied by the retired colonel of the American army Robert Kovachich. The company gained fame in the same year 2003, when it successfully conducted an operation to save 25 oil workers, who for two weeks were hostages on an oil rig. In addition, the company’s employees played an important role in the civil conflict in Liberia in 2003, taking the side of the rebels. The result of their actions was the overthrow of the official government and the introduction of the UN peacekeeping mission.

The company, which specializes in security, even prepared a special operation to kidnap the disgraced President of Liberia, Ch. Taylor, for an additional fee (about $ 4 million) in order to transfer it to the United Nations special court for war crimes. However, this initiative was rejected, as provocative and ridiculous.

At the same time, the employees of the US FBI and the British Customs Service were engaged in an investigation to find out all the circumstances of the failed abduction, during which it was established that the company’s leadership was negotiating about the conditions for the capture and transfer of the leader of the African state. It was also found that the UN court did not abandon the services of the company, but refused to pay money for the kidnapping, citing the lack of money.

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