Mapping Erik Prince’s Private Mercenary Empire | Al Bawaba

Prince is partially responsible for modernizing the private army for the post 9/11 world, outsourcing militaries to cheap, specialized labor pools and skirting traditional regulations meant to ensure accountability for armed forces.

Once the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Blackwater received billions in contracts from the U.S. government to help supplement the official mission with private boots on the ground, relatively free from accountability or laws from any particular government.

Mapping Erik Prince’s Private Mercenary Empire | Al Bawaba

Apart from harassing Iraqi civilians and running them off of roads with their armored personnel carriers, they also indiscriminately gunned down 14 innocent people in Baghdad in 2007, drawing an investigation and heavy criticism from media outlets around the world.

The incident stands as a cautionary tale for when mercenary groups such as Blackwater are able to operate without sufficient legal or logistical oversight. Facing a wave of scrutiny, Prince left Blackwater and the firm changed its name twice (to Xe and then Academi) to escape the heat.

In 2011, Erik Prince was appointed by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to make a secret, private army. For this, he was paid $529 million.

Mapping Erik Prince’s Private Mercenary Empire | Al Bawaba