Blackwater becomes new landlord in Afghanistan for US Special Forces
As President Obama insists on a speedy end to the war in Afghanistan, his administration has other plans. A facility owned by the private security force once known as Blackwater has been awarded a $22 million contract to house US troops through 2015.
The private military company Academi — formerly Blackwater and, more recently, Xe — is the proud winner of a no-bid contract that will keep them profiting off Uncle Sam’s wars for the next few years. Under a deal first reported by Wired.com’s Danger Room, Academi will assist the recently created US Special Operations Joint Task Force–Afghanistan with housing facilities and office space on their massive 10-acre compound in Kabul named Camp Integrity.According to Danger Room reporter Spencer Ackerman, Academi won the rights to lease Camp Integrity to the special ops team through May 2015, providing accommodations for some 7,000 elite troops.US Pres. Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have both insisted in recent weeks that the United States’ war in Afghanistan will end by 2014 and all combatant forces will be removed. Despite a deadline firmly in place, though, the Pentagon has plans to keep upwards of 10,000 troops overseas in order to conduct so-called training and counterterrorism operations for the unforeseeable future. Now thanks to Academi, thousands troops within those Special Operations Forces will be provided a place to stay on their privately-owned and operated facility.“We’ve seen these kind of close, intertwined relationships in the field between the public and private forces before,” Peter Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, explains to Ackerman. “The US military and the CIA, reportedly, have hired these companies to do everything from building bases, running the facilities and logistics, to serving as the guard forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan. You get to a certain point where you wonder where the US military and private military roles begin and end. But to me, the interesting question is what have we actually learned from these past experiences?”To some, the past experiences credited to Academi and its earlier incarnations are reason enough for the Pentagon to have considered other options in cutting a deal with the soldier’s new landlords. As Blackwater, the agency landed in hot water for a series of scandals, including the Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad during the Iraq War that left over a dozen civilians dead, including women and children,Just this past August, Academi agreed to pay the US government upwards of $7.5 million after being charged by the Justice Department with 17 counts of selling arms and owning illegal weapons. Despite a series of scandals, though, the government has time and time again turned to Academi for assistance.In another report released this summer, it was revealed that the International Republican Institute — a bipartisan, nonprofit organization chaired by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), overspent taxpayer funds to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in order to send Blackwater private soldiers to Iraq for so-called “democracy building.”Previously, a spokesperson for Academi told Danger Room that the Camp Integrity facility includes a “24/7 operations center, fueling stations, vehicle maintenance facility, lodging, office and conference space and a fortified armory.” The Pentagon’s Counter-Narcoterrorism Program Office has already established an office there, reported by Wired to contain “a secure armory and weapons maintenance service.”