Thursday, April 07, 2016

Blue Hats and Blackwater. A Possible Marriage?

Blackwater, currently known as Academi, began in 1997 by Navy SEAL Erik Prince. Blackwater began as a training program for military and local law enforcement. Blackwater trained police officers after the 1999 Columbine massacre and Navy sailors after the 2000 USS Cole bombing. Blackwater soon ventured into the private contracting business, providing essential security needs for the State Department, CIA, and other government agencies. Since the entrance into the private security business, Blackwater has expanded rapidly. Private contracting has become quite lucrative, leading to an over saturation in the market from what was originally a few select companies. While innovation and the need to provide security were great around the early 2000’s, this dynamic has changed. Yet it seems that the need to provide security can be met elsewhere.

The U.N. is currently conducting 16peace keeping operations worldwide. While U.N. peacekeeping missions and defense contracting seem like they may be on opposite ends of the spectrum, is it possible that these two could be combined in an effective way? I believe they could. At the heart of both operations is the desire to provide security. By allowing the U.N. to select private contractors the U.N. gets a major regulatory power over these companies. Additionally, the companies benefit from revenue and steady work. While these ideas may seem farfetched, the trend has begun. In 2008, the U.N. relied heavily on Blackwater in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the U.N.’s use of PMC's has been generally in the Middle East, this use could be rapidly expanded to other peacekeeping missions.

The reason while U.N. peacekeeping missions often fail is due to the lack of qualified troops and the reluctanceof U.N. member states providing sufficient numbers. Additionally, these troops often have reluctance to involve themselves in a crisis that is not their own. PMC’s provide a motivated force that can achieve what the U.N. truly desires in a peacekeeping mission: Peace. 

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