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Private Military/Security Companies 

Private Military Companies or Private Security Companies are a reality in 21st century conflicts all around the globe.  Often mistaken with their ancient predecessors (the so-called mercenaries), offer their protection/defensive services to both private and public clients, including NGOs, United Nations, aid agencies and goverments.

This site is a portal which offers news and articles on this topic. A controversial topic which gains more and more public attention due to their status as civilians and increasing casualties among this group of operators .

Together with the whole private security community we are crediting their sacrifice. Be it to their country, their client or asset to be protected or their buddies working at their side. 
Triple Canopy, Obamas Blackwater Print

4 May 2009

Two private military contractorsThe next private military company to take over Blackwater’s contract in Iraq has an interesting history, operates worldwide and provides more than just personal security, Jody Ray Bennett writes for ISN Security Watch.By Jody Ray Bennett for ISN Security Watch

After the announcement that Xe, the infamous private security company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, would lose its US State Department contract to provide security services in Baghdad, there remained a degree of uncertainty as to which company, if any, would take over the job.

Despite the Iraqi government’s decision to ban Blackwater from operating on its soil, the US State Department said the company would continue to operate on two task orders. The first will keep Xe guards protecting American diplomats in several cities south of Baghdad until 4 August and the second will allow its aerial division, Presidential Airways, to operate approximately 25 helicopters throughout Iraq until 3 September. In April, the State Department announced that the Blackwater/Xe contract in Baghdad would be discontinued after 7 May and the work would be transferred to a company called Triple Canopy.

Triple Canopy is an integrated security solutions company that offers an array of services from law enforcement and military training to surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques; from personal and site armed security to risk mitigation and private investigations. Aside from some of the heavy duty equipment that Blackwater owned, Triple Canopy has many similar assets: a K-9 Division, air, road, sea and charter transportation and logistics support, and it also offers business intelligence.

Founded in 2003 in Chicago by two veterans of the US Special Forces, the company soon became one of the “Big Three” companies in Iraq (next to Blackwater and Dyncorp) that would provide various security products under contract from the US government.

“The name Triple Canopy was initially chosen to evoke the protection offered by a triple canopy jungle. We still embrace this concept, but further define ourselves by the multiple layers of security we offer, as well as the levels of redundancy built into every security operation we conduct,” a spokesperson for Triple Canopy told ISN Security Watch.

Within five years of its founding, the company had opened offices in Abu Dhabi, Nigeria, Peru and Uganda and acquired its own crisis management consultancy company, Clayton Consultants, Inc, which claims it has “resolved more than 1,500 kidnap-for-ransom and extortion cases.”

According to Triple Canopy’s website, it now has representation in the US, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, the Dominican Republic, the UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Iraq, Jordan, UAE, Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa, India, China, Japan, Australia and the Philippines.

In Nigeria, Triple Canopy operates from its Lagos offices in a sea of its competitors such as Control Risk, Erinys and Aegis. In a company profile on Nigerian security released, Triple Canopy writes: “As the risk of kidnappings, extortion and organized crime increases throughout Nigeria, international companies are being forced to make the security of their personnel, goods and infrastructure a top priority.”

The company’s global footprint has afforded it a unique ability to recruit and train personnel from each continent. In places like Peru where the market costs for military- or police-trained personnel are much lower in comparison to American personnel, Triple Canopy has turned to Latin America to recruit individuals to work in places like Iraq or Afghanistan. It is in this aspect that the company has caused some controversy when it was revealed that it previously used a recruiter that served in Augusto Pinochet’s military to provide personnel to operate in Iraq.

Experience under its belt

By at least 2007, Triple Canopy was already beginning to recruit from Uganda from third-party or subcontracting companies that trained local Ugandan nationals for armed security operations. This phenomenon has occurred in part due to US government contracts requiring companies like Triple Canopy to very quickly recruit, train and transport Third Country Nationals (TCNs) for duties like guarding the massive US Embassy in Baghdad.

The company has fought against the Mahdi Army with AK-47s that were captured by the US military and stored in Department of Defense stockpiles, and at one time helped guard US interests on some of the rather volatile streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Say what you want about Triple Canopy: the company definitely has some experience under its belt.

More recently, the State Department under the Obama administration awarded the company a contract to provide personal security under its Worldwide Personal Protection Service (WPPS) program in Israel, a move that caused critics of the industry to refer to Triple Canopy as “Obama’s  Blackwater.” Indeed, there is some concern that once Blackwater completes its contract in Iraq, its employees that have a reputation in the industry for being trigger happy will attempt to seek work with Triple Canopy.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Xe stated that there was absolutely nothing impeding their employees from seeking further employment with other private military and security companies. The question remains: Will Triple Canopy opt to hire former Blackwater personnel who are already in theater, trained, experienced and prepared to continue security detail in Iraq, or will it recruit more third-country nationals to cut costs?

The company advertises: “Quiet Professionals Wanted.” It currently seeks positions that range from on-site medics, marksmen and intelligence analysts for Iraq to pilots and Hebrew-speaking site guards for operations in Israel.

Under scrutiny

The latest with Triple Canopy has less to do with its abilities as much as how the company is being perceived by the US government. After a litany of reporting over the actual costs of private contractors in warfare coupled with the various stories about Blackwater’s more dubious operations over the last six years, lawmakers are looking at PSCs with an ever skeptical eye.

This skepticism resulted in the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, a bi-partisan legislative commission “required to study, assess and make recommendations concerning wartime contracting for the reconstruction, logistical support, and the performance of security functions in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Its major objectives include “a thorough assessment of the systemic problems identified with interagency wartime contracting, the identification of instances of waste, fraud and abuse, and ensuring accountability for those responsible.”

Triple Canopy most recently came under fire after the commission “found serious deficiencies in training and equipment for hundreds of Ugandan guards hired to protect US military bases in Iraq.”

The commission found that Triple Canopy’s private security personnel lacked essential training and equipment to secure thousands of American assets in Iraq, including thousands of American soldiers.

The Associated Press later reported that the commission explained that “at Base Delta [a Multi-National Force base in Iraq], Triple Canopy has not provided guards with enough vehicles to cover the facility's perimeter [and] as a result, the guards frequently rely on the military for transportation […] Houston-based KBR Inc., which has a separate contract to provide food, transportation and housing for US forces, has had to assist both Sabre [another PSC] and Triple Canopy.”

After the commission released its report, one of Triple Canopy’s base managers suddenly departed Iraq, appearing as if he was being fired or punished by the company for cooperating in the commission investigation. While Triple Canopy denies the employee was being reprimanded, investigations are ongoing.

Jody Ray Bennett is a freelance writer and academic researcher. His areas of analysis include the private military and security industry, the materialization of non-state forces and the transformation of modern warfare
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