Friday, April 25, 2008

Blackwater does what? Has what?....

From The Potroist:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Blackwater facts: What makes the company different
The Virginian-Pilot
© July 25, 2006

Few businesses are like Blackwater. For instance, did you know ...

EXTORTION:Early this month a former employee was charged briefly with trying to extort $1 million and a new truck from Blackwater by threatening to reveal damaging information about the company to the media.

Laura Holdren-Nowacki, 35, who was fired in April from her job as manager of Blackwater’s vehicle fleet, pleaded not guilty to the extortion charge but later issued an apology in which she blamed her actions on an addiction to prescription painkillers.The extortion charge was dropped a week after it was filed, and Blackwater said it would help her get treatment.


Almost a year after two Blackwater employees were fired for “misappropriating firearms” at the Moyock compound, the case remains open and no charges have been filed.The federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is handling the investigation. ATF spokesman Earl Woodham would offer no updates, saying only that the bureau does not comment on ongoing investigations.

Woodham reemphasized that Blackwater was not busted by the ATF, but called the bureau and asked for help.


Stands to reason that life insurance could be hard to come by for hired guns. But security contractors can buy a $100,000 term policy through the Uniformed Services Benefit Association, a nonprofit organization that specializes in insurance for military personnel.The policy pays off in the event of a combat death, but like regular life insurance, its rates are still based on the applicant’s age and tobacco use.

At Blackwater, the company covers up to $361 of its contractors’ first annual premium – the rate for a 49-year-old nonsmoking male.


Blackwater’s compound straddles Currituck and Camden countries. Only about 500 of its 7,000 acres have been developed so far.

Among its amenities:40 gun ranges: 8 have computerized or interactive target systems; one is 1,200 yards long, or 12 football fields

R.U. Ready High School:

police train at this 14,746 square-foot, multi-level mock school built after the Columbine shootings

Make-believe town: Half-a dozen or so plywood structures recreate urban-type terrain - an apartment building, church, warehouse. Backwater has plans to build a 30-acre city that can be reconfigured to mimic any urban area.

Ship trainers: two mock ships launch on a cable onto a 15-acre lake

Shoot houses: 2 live-fire, multi-level, steel houses with changable rooms

Breaching facility: features areas for learning how to cut through fences, torch ship hatches, blow down doors and defeat locks.

K-9Blackwater’s K-9 division trains dogs and handlers as well as supplies them. About two dozen dogs – mostly Malamutes and German Shepherds - occupy a run of chain-link kennels on the compound. The dogs are trained in explosives detection, tracking and personal protection. Controlled aggression is part of the training. If a bad guy gives up – and appears submissive – the dog simply barks. If he acts combative, the dog attacks.

CARSBetween the driving track, ramming pad and urban attack scenarios, Blackwater has a fleet of 200 to 300 vehicles. Bought at auction, the cars have a fairly set lifespan once they reach Moyock. First, they’re used in high-speed, hard-braking drills. When they start to wear out, they move on to the ramming pad. Next, the fluids are drained and the cars are used for target practice. Finally, they’re sold off to a scrap dealer.


Heaps of brass shell casings jingle underfoot on Blackwater’s compound, remants of the countless rounds fired there. To clean them up, the company says it allows local Boy Scout troops onto the compound, where they collect the shells, turn them in for recycling and keep the proceeds.


Virginia Beach police and sheriff’s deputies train exclusively at Blackwater, where the city pays the company $450,000 for the full-time use of a firing range. The city’s SWAT team travels to Moyock once a week.


Blackwater says before most contractors are hired, they must pass a criminal history check, a physical fitness test, a security clearance background check, a written psychological exam and an oral evaluation.


Clandestine clients abound at Blackwater, but some leave mementoes of their visits. Two wall-sized bulletin boards in the compound mess hall overflow with uniform patches tacked up as souveniers. They belong to cops, federal agents, servicemen, merchant marines, game wardens, forest rangers and security guards. They came from across the country and the globe, including Switzerland, Italy, Chile and Canada.


Coalition forces in Iraq are largely American, but contractor ranks are truely international. An unofficial online list of contractor casualties in Iraq includes men from Fiji, South Africa, Britain, Turkey, Bulgaria, South Korea, Honduras, Nepal, India, Canada, Portugal, Poland, Russia, Australia, Italy, Denmark and more. Find the list at


Blackwater has lost one K-9 overseas. Ringo the dog was killed in February. Company spokesman Andrew Howell said Ringo sniffed out an IED, and died in the subsequent explosion.


According to Blackwater, its founder Erik Prince has traveled to Iraq eight times.


Presidential Airways Inc., Blackwater’s aviation affiliate, has a fleet of 25 airplanes and helicopters. Most of the planes are Casa 212s, a wide-bodied, rear-loading aircraft capble of landing on short, primitive runways

Posted by Janet Warren at 11:37 PM


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