Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror

Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror

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by Erik Prince
     
 

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No company in our time has been as mysterious or as controversial as Blackwater. Founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince in 1997, it recruited special forces veterans and others with the skills and courage to take on the riskiest security jobs in the world. As its reputation grew, government demand for its services escalated, and Blackwater's men eventually completed

Overview

No company in our time has been as mysterious or as controversial as Blackwater. Founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince in 1997, it recruited special forces veterans and others with the skills and courage to take on the riskiest security jobs in the world. As its reputation grew, government demand for its services escalated, and Blackwater's men eventually completed nearly one hundred thousand missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both the Bush and Obama administrations found the company indispensible. It sounds like a classic startup success story, except for one problem: Blackwater has been demonized around the world. From uninformed news coverage to grossly distorted fictional portrayals, Blackwater employees have been smeared as mercenaries, profiteers, jackbooted thugs, and worse. Because of the secrecy requirements of Blackwater's contracts with the Pentagon, the State Department, and the CIA, Prince was unable to speak out when his company's opponents spread false information. But now he's able to tell the full and often shocking story of Blackwater's rise and fall. In Civilian Warriors, Prince pulls no punches and spares no details. He explains his original goal of building an elite center for military and law enforcement training. He recounts how the company shifted gears after 9/11. He honors our troops while challenging the Pentagon's top leadership. And he reveals why highly efficient private military contractors have been essential to running our armed forces, since long before Blackwater came along. Above all, Prince debunks myths about Blackwater that spread while he was forced to remain silent-myths that tarnished the memory of men who gave their lives for their country but never got the recognition they deserved.

He reveals new information about some of the biggest controversies of the War on Terror, including:

• The true story of the Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad.
• The actual details of Blackwater's so-called impunity in Iraq.
• The events leading up to the televised deaths of Blackwater contractors in Fallujah.

Prince doesn't pretend to be perfect, and he doesn't hide the sometimes painful details of his private life. But he has done a great public service by setting the record straight. His book reads like a thriller but is too improbable to be fiction.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

With this book, Erik Prince, the founder and former CEO of Blackwater, offers both a spirited defense of Private Military Contractors and a heartfelt tribute to the hundreds of PMCs who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now freed of contractual government restrictions, he also counters numerous false charges that have been made against Blackwater and other PMCs.

From the Publisher
“Prince’s book belongs on the shelf next to the memoirs of the other Iraq and Afghanistan war chieftains…. we need Prince’s story to help us understand the history of the post- 9/11 wars and the myriad roles contractors played in these conflicts.”

The Washington Post

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780698154001
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/18/2013
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
104,889
File size:
9 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

December 6, 2003

AT ELEVEN P.M., EIGHTEEN CARS, WATCHED OVERHEAD BY U.S. ARMY APACHE and Kiowa Warrior helicopters, as well as by a pair of Blackwater he­licopters, known as Little Birds, stormed out of the Green Zone. They turned onto a pockmarked roadway, drove past scorched traf­fic barriers and burned-out remains of vehicles once used for suicide bombings, and sped toward Baghdad International Airport. A mo­torcade escorting a head of state and the U.S. secretary of defense doesn’t travel light. Especially not on the “Highway of Death.”

That multilane stretch of asphalt connects Iraq’s largest interna­tional airport with the coalition-occupied Green Zone. For years, insurgents had effectively owned the five or so miles, ambushing convoys, diplomats, and American troops roughly once a day. So dangerous was the road that the State Department would ultimately outlaw its personnel from using it at all. And even before that, no one took that road without a plan.

But sometimes Paul Bremer wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Shortly before eleven p.m., Bremer, the United States presidential envoy and administrator in Iraq, had finished a meeting with Secre­tary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld outside the Green Zone. To the surprise of his Blackwater security detail, Bremer insisted he would see the secretary off at the airport.

Frank Gallagher, the barrel-chested head of the detail charged with keeping Bremer alive, quickly recalibrated travel plans. “Need­less to say, some of the radio traffic back to me expressed grave con­cern about doing the mission and questioned my sanity,” Gallagher later remembered. “But I could see the look in [Bremer’s] eyes that this was not open for debate.”

The trip out was uneventful, but Gallagher sensed the worst was yet to come. The show of force had certainly tipped off the insur­gents that something unusual was going on at the airport. And Bremer’s Blackwater motorcade would have to travel back to the Green Zone without the Pentagon detail that had accompanied Rumsfeld.

Once Bremer had said his good-byes to the secretary, the Coali­tion Provisional Authority leader and his right-hand man, Brian McCormack, climbed into the back of an up-armored Chevy Suburban SUV. Gallagher gathered his Blackwater team. “I explained that get­ting back to the Green Zone was going to be an adventure, and made sure that everyone was aware of the dangers,” he said. “We promised to have a cup of mead in Valhalla later that evening.”

Contractor humor.

Around eleven twenty p.m., Bremer’s pared-down convoy pulled away from the airport. The nimble Blackwater helicopters darted out front, providing top cover and scanning the roadway for threats. Gallagher, in the front passenger seat, wrapped his fingers around his matte black M4 carbine and stared out into the darkness that enveloped the roadway. Bremer and McCormack chatted about meet­ing schedules for the next day.

Suddenly, a call from a Blackwater bird above: “Be alert—a vehi­cle ahead is backing down an on-ramp onto the road.” The driver of Bremer’s SUV pulled into the far left lane, closest to the highway median. The lead and follow armored cars maneuvered to flank Bremer on the right.

There was a jarring crack against the bulletproof window on Gal­lagher’s door—what he later learned had been an AK-47 round that had marked him for death. And then, with a horrible flash of light, an improvised explosive device (IED) rocked the armored Humvee be­hind Bremer’s SUV, destroying the Humvee’s axle with a deafening blast.

Bremer’s driver swerved and battled to keep all four tires of the SUV on the ground. From the darkness, insurgents opened fire with AK-47s, rattling machine-gun fire off the right side of the car. There was nowhere to hide; flames and headlights provided just enough light to grasp what was unfolding. “We’d been ambushed, a highly organized, skillfully executed assassination attempt,” Bremer later wrote. “I swung around and looked back. The Suburban’s armored-glass rear window had been blown out by the IED. And now AK rounds were whipping through the open rectangle.”

Tuna! Tuna! Tuna!” shouted the voice from the radio in Bremer’s SUV. It was Blackwater’s shift leader, limping along in the battered armored vehicle, calling out the code for the SUVs to drive through the ambush: Leave the Humvees, he was saying; get Bremer out of there now.

Contractors in the two helicopters above unloaded enough am­munition to repel the attack, while Blackwater’s drivers ignored the burns on their feet from the heat of the blast and stomped on the gas through the fog of smoke on the roadway. One of the trailing Subur­bans pulled immediately alongside Bremer’s car, shielding it while speeding down the Highway of Death so close together that the cars’ sideview mirrors touched. “I asked for a casualty report and learned that two of our four vehicles were damaged, but limping along,” Gal­lagher said.

The stench of explosives lingered in the ambassador’s vehicle as they made it to the Green Zone. And soon, the Humvees and helicop­ters made it back as well.

Miraculously, no one was injured.

Since I first enrolled in the Naval Academy after high school, my life’s mission has been to serve God, serve my family, and serve the United States with honor and integrity. I did it first as a midshipman, then as a SEAL, then—when personal tragedy called me home from the service—as a contractor providing solutions for some of the thorniest problems on earth. The business of war has never been pretty, but I did my job legally, and I did it completely. Too well, perhaps, growing Blackwater until it became something resembling its own branch of the military and other government agencies.

During my dozen years as company CEO, we filled contracts for the State Department, the Department of Defense, the CIA, elite law enforcement agencies around the world, and many others. We did everything from protecting heads of state to delivering the mail. Blackwater expanded from a simple training center in the North Carolina swampland to encompass dozens of business divisions ranging from surveillance blimp development and construction to intelligence services to K9 operations. We became the ultimate tool in the war on terror, pushing a thousand contractors into Iraq and hundreds more into Afghanistan under the Republican Bush admi­nistration, then continuing a connection to Democratic president Barack Obama that was closer than he has ever wanted to admit. My company’s history is a proud tale of performance excellence and driven entrepreneurialism.

The public relations battle at home, however, was very different from a firefight on the front lines. Those conflicts my men and I were trained for. Stateside, though, thanks to endless waves of frivolous lawsuits, congressional hearings, and inaccurate press reports, Blackwater was slagged as the face of military evil. Gun-toting bul­lies for hire. We were branded mercenaries and murderers, and were made the whipping boy for the public’s fury over the Bush adminis­tration’s policies in the Middle East. After failing in their multiyear effort to win hearts and minds in Iraq, the bureaucrats decided a company that had repeatedly answered this government’s pleas for help was suddenly more valuable as a scapegoat. I was strung up so the politicians could feign indignation and pretend my men hadn’t done exactly what they had paid us handsomely to do.

There is much the government doesn’t want told about the work we did: the truth about our State Department–sanctioned opera­tional tactics in Iraq, for instance, including our rules of engage­ment; or Blackwater’s crucial involvement with President Obama’s ever expanding terrorist-hunting tactics in Pakistan and beyond; or even the depth of government reliance on contractors today and the outsourcing of its war machine. Government agencies don’t want that spotlight being shone on our work, nor to applaud the greatest advantage Blackwater offered them: increased capability. They want increased deniability.

For years my company’s work was misconstrued and misrepre­sented. At the time, our government contracts explicitly barred Blackwater from responding to the public broadsides. We were never allowed to explain things such as how we secured the contracts we did, or what really happened during a bloody Baghdad shoot-out in September 2007, or the way shifting political tectonic plates crushed my company as an act of partisan theatrics. Or how the one job I loved more than any other was ripped away from me thanks to gross acts of professional negligence at the CIA.

So now I’m done keeping quiet. What’s been said before is only half the story—and I won’t sit idly by while the bureaucrats go after me so that everyone else can just go back to business as usual. The true history of Blackwater is exhilarating, rewarding, exasperating, and tragic. It’s the story of men taking bullets to protect the men who take all the credit, a tale of patriots whose names became known only when lawyers and politicians needed to blame somebody for something.

Our critics have spoken. Now it’s my turn.Reprinted from CIVILIAN WARRIORS: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror by Erik Prince with permission of Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright (c) BW Productions, LLC, 2013.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Prince’s book belongs on the shelf next to the memoirs of the other Iraq and Afghanistan war chieftains…. we need Prince’s story to help us understand the history of the post- 9/11 wars and the myriad roles contractors played in these conflicts.”
The Washington Post

Meet the Author

Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL, founded Blackwater in 1997. He served as its CEO until 2009 and its Chairman until 2010, when the company was sold. A native of Michigan, he now lives in Abu Dhabi, where he pursues a variety of business ventures.

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Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Usually have a hard time starting to read a book that has to chronicle the life of the author from childhood to current time. This was a different read. His early family life carried over to his caring for employees, unfortunately unraveling from corporate cultures. I beleive his being targeted by poltical motives, as I have read about that happening before, such as in the times of Jeffterson, Lincoln, F. Roosevelt and now Obama. History has a way of repeating itself. I applaud his vision to supply what the market needed, in this case the U.S. government. I have no reason to doubt anything he has said in this book. Hope for the best of luck to him in the futire.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Erik Prince tells his version of the story of his company (Blackwater). No one should expect an unbiased account, and you don't get one. He starts off with a biography of his father, who was a real inspiration for Prince's military and business success. From there he writes about his time as a Navy SEAL and the things he learned there. Like most former government employees with some business acumen, he figures out how he can make money by coming back as a contractor. The first efforts of Blackwater are training military personnel in areas that will really help them on and off the battlefield. It's when his firm goes into the security business in war zones that the wheels come off. He blames a lot of it on the government, particularly the State Department, but it really comes back to his firm trying to make some big bucks that puts them in situations of conflict where there are no good outcomes. If you want to look at this work as a good adventure story, that like the movies "is inspired by true events", then you'll be okay. Just don't take it as the only account of Blackwater that you need to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another case of politicians selling a patriot down the river. Shame on Obama Lama Ding Dong for using this company as much as he could, then to bad mouth them endlessly for his own rotten games. Peace: USN EM1SS
hotelmanCH More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book being from the Holland area. Gives you some in site on the company business was started and how the family helped the community. This story has good in site on how things were handled in time of war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice to have a fresh perspective of truth out there.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing what Erik Prince did to help our country, our soldiers and even our politicians. A true patriot. Appalling how the government turned on him and his team.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Batman is DC...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yeah. Batman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heroes, SHIELD agents, and villains are acceptable. All will be considered, but there are no promises of any getting into the story. -Storm
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey if you are still out their please come back to kia for me i got grounded for a couple days
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone on
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh shnap b&n think dey can throw us off by not makin a warriors book da frst res they WROOOOOOOOONG! On da bad side, doe, dis means dey finally makin a stand gainst rp. Not good, my friends, not good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im on hee he hooo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
New dragon rp at 'kodash' all res! Explore each res, they all have a purpose. No members yet, much thanks if you join! ~Queen Akaria
bootspur More than 1 year ago
Well, let me ask the self-righteous Erik Prince, where ANY of his jack booted thugs of profit (his words) would received so large a paycheck to employ the killing skills learned as an G. I., for near poverty wages? I'll tell you where that is possible in ERIK PRINCE'S private Army in the company called Xe, formerly known as Blackwater.. The name was changed after Prince's Blackwater Army continued to come under State Department pressure for killing Iraqi civilians, in effect ruining the Blackwater name. His company was purchased by another in the field named Triple Canopy. And, of course it isn't any wonder that Mr Prince now resides in Abu Dhabi, there he can keep his band of Tax payer taught & funded World Mercenaries under lock and key with Sheik oil money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Randomly call me on skype butterman1001 is my name
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DDEERRPPP!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ha