Civilian Warriors – The Blackwater Story

blackwater

Ever since America’s involvement in Iraq and the war on terrorism began, one name has been central to the controversies connected with that involvement. That name is Blackwater.

What is Blackwater? In simplest terms it began as a training facility and expanded into a company that provides private military style services and equipment to the U.S. Government and other entities. And thereby begins a tale of controversy, government investigations, allegations of misconduct, financial misdealing and a variety of other charges; many of them possibly based more on politics than facts.

Blackwater was the creation of Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL and a son of a middle-American businessman who turned an idea and passion into a multimillion-dollar industry. He inherited the passion from his father and put it to use in starting Blackwater. In a sense, the story of Blackwater is his story, and so, properly, Prince begins the story of his company as an autobiography of sorts, showing us where he came from and how Blackwater developed and grew out of the changes that occurred in the military and federal budget during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Blackwater is a personal story and is written from that perspective. It is well organized leading the reader from one topic to the next; not a page-turner, but a work that leads the audience to look for what’s coming up because it is a highly interesting story. It unfolds as a history of the Blackwater company spiced with concurrent events from Prince’s personal life, then brings in numerous important events from Blackwater’s service exploits, positive and negative with behind the scenes information that was not available from the media.

The story really begins with how the Columbine High School shooting and the attack on the USS Cole gave Blackwater the opportunity to develop, followed by the 9/11/2001 attack which truly placed the company in a central position to participate in the War on Terrorism. As the war escalates into an invasion of Iraq the role changes and the story continues. Prince takes us along on Blackwater missions, inside congressional hearings, and discusses why companies like Blackwater are a better option in today’s world than traditional large-scale military systems on the order of what was used in World War II. In many respects Blackwater is presented as a modern, free market alternative to the traditional military approach to international conflicts that must be dealt with via military means.

Of course, because Blackwater is a controversial entity, some readers will be inclined to take this book with a grain of salt, or dismiss it entirely. This would be a mistake, as it would deny a fair hearing of all the information available on the subject. One can suggest that Prince may have a personal bias, or consider that he has a conflict of interest. After all, it is his company, but one should do it only after hearing him out and understanding his view of the subject as well as understanding that his critics may have biases as well.

This is not just another re-telling of war stories by a former military man. It is an argument for the use of companies that are as well trained, more flexible, and better able to use their resources than big or perhaps gigantic government. It provides an understanding of why the company was demonized, and allows the reader to form a judgment on whether it was justified, or if it was pure politics.

There is also the argument that government today has become too caught up in politics than in national security and that there needs to be a balance between the two, using individual initiative to balance the inertia that plagues government operations. All told, it makes an excellent case for its purpose in 21st Century America and perhaps beyond, depending on how the world changes over the coming decades.

For those who may wish to obtain an additional understanding of the legitimate purpose behind organizations such as Blackwater, I suggest that they read a Townhall column by Bob Barr who explains it in a most concise fashion, possible using historical references and the Constitution to justify government use of what the British, at one time, referred to a privateers. Blackwater fills a similar role. Erik Prince provides the reasoned argument, and it may well be up to us to decide whether he is on to something. Thus, Civilian Warriors is an extremely important work for anyone who has an interest in how the rest of this century will evolve. That means, effectively all of us.

 

Civilian Warriors is now available in hardcover, paperback, kindle and audiobook editions from Amazon.com.

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