A Blackwater helicopter flies over a bust of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad during the Iraq War.
Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater (now Xe Services), the world’s most notorious private military contractor, is discreetly training an 800-man army capable of defending infrastructure, suppressing rebellions and battling regional state enemies for the UAE. For $529 million, Prince’s new enterprise, Reflex Responses (or R2), has been assembling and training a battalion of men from conflict-stricken countries in Latin America to fight in Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan’s private forces.
Some observers are concerned that U.S. leaders will privately support Prince’s efforts to strengthen the UAE’s military, since the troops could blunt the regional aggression of Iran. Federal law prohibits American citizens from training foreign troops without State Department permission. —ARK
The New York Times:
Mr. Prince, who resettled (in Abu Dhabi) last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.
The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest or were challenged by pro-democracy demonstrations in its crowded labor camps or democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.
… People involved in the project and American officials said that the Emiratis were interested in deploying the battalion to respond to terrorist attacks and put down uprisings inside the country’s sprawling labor camps, which house the Pakistanis, Filipinos and other foreigners who make up the bulk of the country’s work force. The foreign military force was planned months before the so-called Arab Spring revolts that many experts believe are unlikely to spread to the U.A.E.