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Blackwater – Private Armies

Blackwater - US Private Army

The Untold Story of Private Military Companies


The year was 2007, and the setting was Iraq, a country fresh from war, still picking up the pieces. A convoy of trucks was heading to a bomb explosion site. At one point, the men on the trucks disembarked. They halted all other vehicles to let the trucks pass first. All cars stopped, except one. What followed was a massacre. The men from the trucks fired at the car. They fired at screaming civilians.

Blackwater - US Private Army

1 of them continued to shoot despite warnings. Someone pointed a gun at him, and that’s when he stopped. This is a true story of 16th September. 2007. It is called the Nisour Square Massacre. 17 people were killed, all Iraqis. The killers were Americans, fighters who belonged to a company called Blackwater, now known as Academi.

Blackwater - US Private Army

The Rise of Private Armies

Private armies are not a new concept. The ancient Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and colonial powers like the British, French, and Dutch all employed Mercenaries.Blackwater - US Private ArmyBlackwater - US Private Army

However, the practice boomed after the Cold War, as countries began downsizing their armies. Many soldiers found themselves jobless and joined private military companies. States were rushing to privatize security, which became a commodity that could be bought or sold.

Blackwater - US Private Army

The private military industry today is unregulated, with very few rules. The fighters are not considered soldiers as per international law, so their status is ambiguous. They offer low wages, no pensions, and no rules. They do all the dirty work.

Blackwater - US Private Army

National armies are governed by laws and face investigations and trials for war crimes, but any of this does not bind private militaries. They give the government, a plausible deniability.

Blackwater - US Private Army

The Role of Blackwater in Iraq

Blackwater, a private military company in the United States, was founded in 1997 by a former Navy SEAL, Erik Prince.

Blackwater - US Private Army

The company was named after the particularly dark groundwater near its headquarters. Blackwater took part in a few conflicts here and there, but its fortunes changed with the war in Iraq. In August 2003, Blackwater received its first Iraq contract, worth 21 million dollars. 

Blackwater - US Private Army

By 2007, there were 100,000 such fighters in Iraq, most of them Blackwater fighters. They were on a 1 billion dollar contract to protect American diplomats. One estimate says there were more than 160,000 private fighters, roughly equal to the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq.Blackwater - US Private Army

Blackwater was doing everything for the Americans: guarding facilities, protecting high-value individuals, training the military, and carrying out critical operations. They were involved in multiple war crimes, including the Nisour Square massacre, where 17 innocent civilians were shot down because one car refused to give way.

Blackwater - US Private Army

The Legacy of America’s Private Army

Between 1994 and 2007, the U.S. invested some 300 billion dollars in 12 private militias. This gave rise to the likes of Blackwater. Blackwater - US Private Army

The U.S. kept ignoring their crimes to appease them. Those four guards involved in the Nisour Square massacre were later pardoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump. Erik Prince has since renamed and sold the firm, now known as Academi.

Blackwater - US Private Army


The horrors of Blackwater should not be forgotten, neither should America’s role in their rights.Blackwater - US Private Army

The world talks about the Wagner group and what their ruthless fighters are doing in the conflict zones where they operate. It’s horrible and must be checked. But who will hold the U.S. accountable for their crimes? Think about it.

Blackwater - US Private Army

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