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King of the Contractors

Erik Prince defends his warriors.

Dec 16, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 14 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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But that ambitious floating relief project never happened. The one private firm in the world with the logistical and military expertise to pull it off got further drawn into the war on terror and eventually succumbed to politics. “We definitely broke a lot of trail. And like any point man will tell you after a long patrol, the point man takes the most branches and thorns to the face,” Prince says. The crusade against Blackwater has hardly made the U.S. government skittish about hiring private military contractors. Blackwater is still operating with different owners under the name Academi, and similar outfits such as Triple Canopy and ArmorGroup are thriving. Because of Erik Prince, it’s now difficult to imagine the United States going to war anytime soon without being heavily reliant on contractors.

Whether or not this reliance is a good thing remains a politically charged question. Prince has moved on to private equity investments, and wants his book to be the last word on Blackwater. But despite his impassioned defense of the work done by his former firm, Prince is well aware that the use of private military contractors is not something to be undertaken lightly. “To the next entrepreneur that’s thinking of running to the alarm bell the next time the government needs it—this book should be a cautionary tome.”

Mark Hemingway is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

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