So this is what Mr. Prince was up to in the UAE?….and what a project! Lookout French Foreign Legion, here comes the UAE’s first Foreign Legion/PMC hybrid built by Erik Prince. (Vinnell Arabia eat your heart out. lol) There are many things here to talk about, so let’s get started with some of the stuff that jumped out at me.
First, the creation of this force was so that it can be used to deal with Iran, or whatever national interests of the UAE. The Iran angle is smart, because that makes a lot of folks in the west happy. (which could explain why there isn’t much ado from the US about this) It sounds like a blended work force of foreign forces (Americans, South Africans, Colombians, etc.) and Emirates troops, all answering to the laws of the UAE and to the Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Part PMC and part Foreign Legion. But legally, here is a snippet from the contract:
Compliance with the Laws, Regulations and Bylaws
The Second Party undertakes to comply with all the laws, regulations and bylaws in force in the State, and all provisions of the Decision of the Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces referred to hereinabove shall apply to this Contract, provided that the general legal principles in force in the State concerning contracts and contracting methods of the administration shall apply to any matter regarding which there is no specific provision in the said Decision or in this Contract.
The article below also had a quote from international trade lawyer Susan Kovarovics. I would certainly hope that if this Foreign Legion hybrid is within the best interest of the US, that they would have provided ITARs or similar blessings to Prince or any of the American trainers participating in this. I kind of look at it like the Vinnell Arabia contract that has been going on for years in Saudi Arabia training the SANG. But Susan is the expert here:
Susan Kovarovics, an international trade lawyer who advises companies about export controls, said that because Reflex Responses was an Emirati company it might not need State Department authorization for its activities.
But she said that any Americans working on the project might run legal risks if they did not get government approval to participate in training the foreign troops.
The contract is also very interesting in that it has a ‘Performance Bond’, which is a great thing to have in a contract. I have been pushing for similar performance bonds for US contracts, much like our early privateers were bonded before they were given a license. R2 had to put up ‘ten percent of the contract value’ as a bond. My fuzzy math says that is close to 53 million dollars! Quite the incentive to do well, and just imagine a modern military operating with a similar contract mechanism? lol
The amount of money this contract is worth and time period of it is also listed in the contract and stated in the article below. Here it is for anyone that is curious:
Contract Period June 2010 – May 2015
Total Cost $529,166,754.13
If Reflex Responses Management Consultancy LLC or R2 can deliver on this first test battalion, it sounds like the UAE is prepared to expand on the thing. The contract goes up to May of 2015, so a lot can happen between now and then.
Now as far as what they will be used for, who knows? The article below says that this legion could be used to take a few islands off the coast and keep them out of Iranian hands? That this force could also be a deterrent to deal with Iran, which I think that is the real reason why the US would be ok with such a set up. Here is a quote on some of the possible tasks of this force:
Corporate documents describe the battalion’s possible tasks: intelligence gathering, urban combat, the securing of nuclear and radioactive materials, humanitarian missions and special operations “to destroy enemy personnel and equipment.”
One document describes “crowd-control operations” where the crowd “is not armed with firearms but does pose a risk using improvised weapons (clubs and stones).”
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. Iran was a particular concern.
Here is the part of the article that talks specifically about Iran. Pretty wild, and this kind of operation is certainly offensive in nature if they do it:
Although there was no expectation that the mercenary troops would be used for a stealth attack on Iran, Emirati officials talked of using them for a possible maritime and air assault to reclaim a chain of islands, mostly uninhabited, in the Persian Gulf that are the subject of a dispute between Iran and the U.A.E., the former employees said. Iran has sent military forces to at least one of the islands, Abu Musa, and Emirati officials have long been eager to retake the islands and tap their potential oil reserves.
Finally there is the future of this project, and more importantly, what Prince envisions. This is where the Foreign Legion turns into a hybrid type force. It would be like Secopex training and providing logistics for the FFL, and offering the training facility to other private or government forces. Here is the quote:
But by last November, the battalion was officially behind schedule. The original goal was for the 800-man force to be ready by March 31; recently, former employees said, the battalion’s size was reduced to about 580 men.
Emirati military officials had promised that if this first battalion was a success, they would pay for an entire brigade of several thousand men. The new contracts would be worth billions, and would help with Mr. Prince’s next big project: a desert training complex for foreign troops patterned after Blackwater’s compound in Moyock, N.C.
So will R2 be opening it’s doors for training to the world, much like how BW operated in the US? If true, I could see something like this becoming a multi-billion dollar project for Prince and company. Just because it would be located in the middle east and cater to all the OPEC nations. That is a pretty wealthy neighborhood to cater too, and this will be one to watch in the coming years. Also, if anyone at R2 or Thor Global Enterprises would like to add anything to the discussion, please feel free to do so in the comments or contact me directly. When these two companies actually set up an online website, I will make the edits. At this time, I have not been able to find anything other than a listing at IDEX 2011. (hint–if you guys are having a hard time recruiting enough folks for the project, then at the least you should have a website and recruitment page) -Matt
Edit: I would also like to mention that Eeben Barlow has reacted severely to this article because of the reporter’s false and libellous statements about Executive Outcomes. EO did not ‘stage coups attempts’, and the New York Times should do the right thing and make an edit or publish a separate correction to the article. Hell, if the reporters below would have actually took the time to contact Eeben on his blog or read some of his posts, he has actually stopped coups in the past and has been vehemently opposed to them.
Edit: 05/20/2011 Finally the NYT’s makes a correction. Hopefully an apology is sent as well. Here it is:
Published: May 18, 2011
An article on Sunday about the creation of a mercenary battalion in the United Arab Emirates misstated the past work of Executive Outcomes, a former South African mercenary firm whose veterans have been recruited for the new battalion. Executive Outcomes was hired by several African governments during the 1990s to put down rebellions and protect oil and diamond reserves; it did not stage coup attempts. (Some former Executive Outcomes employees participated in a 2004 coup attempt against the government of Equatorial Guinea, several years after the company itself shut down.)
Edit: 5/29/2011- Eeben has posted a reaction to the correction, and you can find that here.
Edit: 6/7/2011- Here is another correction that the NYT’s has had to make. Very interesting.
New York Times
June 7, 2011
An article on May 15 about efforts to build a battalion of foreign mercenary troops in the
United Arab Emirates referred imprecisely to the role played by Erik Prince, the founder
of the security firm Blackwater Worldwide. He worked to oversee the effort and recruit
troops. But Mr. Prince does not run or own the company Reflex Responses, which has a
contract with the government of the U.A.E. to train and deliver the troops, according to
the company president, Michael Roumi. An article on May 16 repeated the error.
Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater’s Founder
By MARK MAZZETTI and EMILY B. HAGER
May 14, 2011
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital. Whisked through customs by an Emirati intelligence officer, the group boarded an unmarked bus and drove roughly 20 miles to a windswept military complex in the desert sand.
The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.