I just finished reading a fascinating new book. Written by Erik Prince, the founder and CEO of Blackwater, it’s the inside account of the founding and operations of the famous–some say infamous–security private military contractor (PMC) corporation that made headlines for a decade in the Sandbox.
I have to admit I’ve been wishing for this book for several years. During the conflicts in the Sandbox from 2001 to the present, but especially during the peak years of counterinsurgency operations, I was fascinated by the stories coming out about Blackwater and other PMC’s. The mainstream media and left-leaning internet bloggers portrayed these organizations and contractors as “mercenaries” (which by definition under international law they were not), and as “cowboys” and “unaccountable” operators–again, false. I got the sense early on that these contractors were an essential element in America’s war on terror in the Sandbox. And Prince’s book confirms this in spades.
Prince’s book illuminates the period of Blackwater’s operations in a manner only its owner and CEO could. He touches on the history of private military contractors in America (going back to the Revolution, and ongoing in every armed conflict since). He tells the untold stories of heroism and sacrifice of Blackwater contractors that the mainstream media refused to tell. He tells the backstories to the events that the mainstream media and internet blogosphere distorted and outright lied about, which eventually made Blackwater the target of Washington politicians. And he gives his account of the blatant attempts by congressman Darrell Waxman (C-CA) and other Democrats to politicize the controversy over use of PMC’s in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Anyone who questioned the media reports of the various Blackwater incidents–the ambush and deaths of 4 Blackwater contractors in Fallujah, the Nisour Square shooting–at the time they were first reported will be gratified to read Prince’s account, which harmonizes well with the “fair and balanced” reports of these happenings that were released months later (with no headlines, of course) that exonerated the PMC organization.
This is a highly readable book, and for anyone who wants to be informed of the full scope of PMC’s in our nation’s military ventures, it is a must-read.