Saturday, September 29, 2007

Amid uproar, Blackwater stops land deal

There's a new dimension to the fallout from the Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad that left 11 Iraqis dead: Blackwater USA apparently has stopped all its expansion projects.

On Wednesday, the North Carolina private military contractor canceled a $5.5 million real estate deal to buy 1,800 acres of farmland near Fort Bragg, where the company was going to set up a training ground for soldiers and corporate executives.

The diplomatic and public relations damage from the shooting, combined with Tuesday's scheduled testimony at Congress by Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince, prompted Blackwater to put all new projects on hold, according to the president of a company that had a deal to sell the land to Blackwater.

"Blackwater said they had pulled all new projects off the table because of this shooting in Baghdad, and because they were preparing Prince for Congress," said Wayne Miller, president of Southern Produce Distributors. "It's a shame. This would have been good for the economy of North Carolina."

Southern Produce owns a huge tract of farmland and wetlands known as Barra Farm, near the Cape Fear River.

Miller said he was approached by Jim Reese, the president of a security company called TigerSwan, which has offices in Cary and Breckenridge, Colo. TigerSwan was founded by Reese and Brian Searcy, who are both veterans of Delta Force, the highly trained special forces unit based at Fort Bragg.

TigerSwan wanted to set up a training center near Fort Bragg with firing ranges, Miller said. TigerSwan planned to train soldiers from Fort Bragg, as well as corporate executives from Research Triangle Park and elsewhere.

According to its Web site, TigerSwan conducts training sessions in weapons, VIP protection, evasive driving, surveillance, urban warfare, self-defense, sniper and counter-sniper operations, convoy and motorcade protection, and assault planning. The company can also conduct counter-surveillance, security assessments, and planning and evaluation for protection against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction......

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hire a private firm to train soldiers to be soldiers? Or maybe the firm's mission would be to train soldiers in illegal and illicit forms of warfare. Is there no limit to the Bush administration's disregard of the function of government?