Our friends at Blackwater Security are creating their own air force. The company which provides “security solutions” by contract to the United States in Iraq (and is building bases in every coastal state in the US), already has a fleet of armed helicopters which it uses in Iraq. The first of the planes that Blackwater is buying, the Embraer Super Tucano light combat prop jets, will be shipped to the US so that Blackwater may begin training pilots shortly.
So why does Blackwater need an air force?
Well, let’s look at the Super Tucano’s capabilities:
These five ton, single engine, single seat aircraft are built for pilot training, but also perform quite well for counter-insurgency work.
So. The planes will be used as air support in the fight against insurgents in Iraq, right? Why else would Erik Prince’s private army want such materiel? But doesn’t our “regular” military do that? So what would Blackwater need such planes for if we have the USAF? Well, let’s not forget this observation by Blackwater expert (and biographer) Jeremy Scahill:
Blackwaterâ€™s been in negotiations with several state governments in the United States. Blackwater met recently with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger about doing disaster response in California. Theyâ€™re opening up a new private military base in San Diego. Another one is in Mount Carroll, Illinois. They have applied for operating licenses in every coastal U.S. state. This is the expansion of a privatized army.
But why would a large private army be needed? Especially with large stateside bases already built and more coming? And with air power at its disposal? Well, as S&R has noted earlier, Blackwater’s founder and “leader,” Erik Prince, has his own agenda, as Scahill notes:
Weâ€™re talking about a company that was founded by a man named Erik Prince, who comes from a family that was one of the top bank rollers of, not only the â€œRepublican revolutionâ€ of the 1990s that brought Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America to power, but also the rise of what we now know as the religious right or the Christian conservative movement. Erik Princeâ€™s family helped James Dobson found Focus on the Family. Erik Princeâ€™s family gave the seed money for Gary Bauer to found the Family Research Council. Erik Prince himself is a major bank roller of President Bush, his allies, and the Christian conservative movement in this country.
That, added to some of the training that the federal government is giving to clergy to enlist them in “quelling” citizen unrest in the event martial law is imposed after some “disaster” such as a “new terrorist” attack, and Blackwater’s role in New Orleans after Katrina, puts Blackwater’s purchase of war planes in an interesting light. Having planes that are good at counter-insurgency in the hands of a dedicated private army headed by an evangelical dominionist could be a back-up in case pastoral diplomacy fails….
Of course, this could merely be a business decision on the part of Blackwater. After all, as we’ve noted already, there’s no business like war business. And to do business properly, you’ve got to have the right tools….