Private military company

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A private military company (PMC) is a private company providing armed combat or security services for financial gain. PMCs refer to their staff as "security contractors" or "private military contractors". Private military companies refer to their business generally as the "private military industry" or "The Circuit". [1] [2]

Contents

The services and expertise offered by PMCs are typically similar to those of governmental security, military or police forces, most often on a smaller scale. While PMCs often provide services to train or supplement official armed forces in service of governments, they can also be employed by private companies to provide bodyguards for key staff or protection of company premises, especially in hostile territories. However, contractors who use offensive force in a war zone could be considered unlawful combatants, in reference to a concept outlined in the Geneva Conventions and explicitly specified by the 2006 American Military Commissions Act. [3] There has been controversy over whether PMCs in active combat zones should be considered mercenaries.

A bodyguard is a type of security guard, or government law enforcement officer, or soldier who protects a person or a group of people—usually high-ranking public officials or officers, wealthy people, and celebrities—from danger: generally theft, assault, kidnapping, assassination, harassment, loss of confidential information, threats, or other criminal offences. The personnel team that protects a VIP is often referred to as the VIP's security detail.

War Organised and prolonged violent conflict between states

War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments, societies and informal paramilitary groups, such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general. Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant suffering and casualties.

Unlawful combatant person who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of the laws of war

An unlawful combatant, illegal combatant or unprivileged combatant/belligerent is a person who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of the laws of war or is fighting outside of internationally recognized military forces. An unlawful combatant may be detained or prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action, subject to international treaties on justice and human rights.

The services of private contractors are used around the world. P. W. Singer, author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, says "In geographic terms, it operates in over 50 different countries. It’s operated in every single continent but Antarctica." Singer states that in the 1990s there used to be 50 military personnel for every 1 contractor, and now the ratio is 10 to 1. He also points out that these contractors have a number of duties depending on whom they are hired by. In developing countries that have natural resources, such as oil refineries in Iraq, they are hired to guard the area. They are also hired to guard companies that contract services and reconstruction efforts such as General Electric. Apart from securing companies, they secure officials and government affiliates. Private military companies carry out many different missions and jobs. Some examples include close protection for the Afghan president Hamid Karzai and piloting reconnaissance airplanes and helicopters as a part of Plan Colombia. [4] [5] According to a study from 2003 the PMC industry was worth over $100 billion a year at that time. [6]

P. W. Singer American political scientist

P. W. Singer is an American political scientist, an international relations scholar and a specialist on 21st century warfare. He is currently Strategist for the New America Foundation and a contributing editor for Popular Science.

Hamid Karzai President of Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai is an Afghan politician who was the President of Afghanistan from 22 December 2001 to 29 September 2014, originally as an interim leader and then as President for almost ten years, from 7 December 2004 to 2014. He comes from a politically active family; Karzai's father, uncle and grandfather were all active in Afghan politics and government. Karzai and his father before him, Abdul Ahad Karzai, were each head of the Popalzai tribe of the Durrani tribal confederation.

Plan Colombia United States foreign aid, military and diplomatic initiative in Colombia

Plan Colombia was the name of a United States foreign aid, military and diplomatic initiative aimed at combating Colombian drug cartels and left-wing insurgent groups in Colombia. The plan was originally conceived in 1999 by the administrations of Colombian President Andrés Pastrana and U.S. President Bill Clinton, and signed into law by the United States in 2000. The official objectives of Plan Colombia were to end the Colombian armed conflict by increasing funding and training of Colombian military and para-military forces and creating an anti-cocaine strategy to eradicate coca cultivation, though critics claim this largely served as a cover to increase U.S. military presence and protect U.S. corporate interests in the region. Plan Colombia in its initial form existed until 2015, with the United States and the Colombian government seeking a new strategy as a result of the peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC. The new program is called "Peace Colombia" and seeks to provide Colombia with aid after the implementation of the Peace Agreement in 2017 with the FARC.

According to a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, private contractors make up 29% of the workforce in the United States Intelligence Community and cost the equivalent of 49% of their personnel budgets. [7]

United States Intelligence Community Collective term for U.S. intelligence and security agencies

The United States Intelligence Community (IC) is a federation of 17 separate United States government intelligence agencies, that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities to support the foreign policy and national security of the United States. Member organizations of the IC include intelligence agencies, military intelligence, and civilian intelligence and analysis offices within federal executive departments. The IC is overseen by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) making up the seventeen-member Intelligence Community, which itself is headed by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who reports to the President of the United States.

According to the Brazilian geostrategist De Leon Petta, far from meaning a possible weakening of the national state power and its monopoly on violence, these PMCs will actually serve as alternative forms of power application abroad through irregular means, without violating international law, causing troubles in the domestic or public policy, or too many international repercussions. [8] American scholar Phelps makes a similar claim by finding that PMCs wrap themselves in state governments' "cloak of legitimacy". [9]

Geostrategy, a subfield of geopolitics, is a type of foreign policy guided principally by geographical factors as they inform, constrain, or affect political and military planning. As with all strategies, geostrategy is concerned with matching means to ends—in this case, a country's resources with its geopolitical objectives. Strategy is as intertwined with geography as geography is with nationhood, or as Gray and Sloan state it, "[geography is] the mother of strategy."

History

Sir David Stirling, an SAS veteran, founded a PMC in the 1960s. The Special Air Service (sas) in North Africa during the Second World War E21340.jpg
Sir David Stirling, an SAS veteran, founded a PMC in the 1960s.

Modern PMCs trace their origins back to a group of ex-SAS British veterans in 1965 who, under the leadership of the founder of the SAS, Sir David Stirling and John Woodhouse, founded WatchGuard International (formerly with offices in Sloane Street before moving to South Audley Street in Mayfair) as a private company that could be contracted out for security and military purposes. [10]

Special Air Service regiment of the British Army

The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army. The SAS was founded in 1941 as a regiment, and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950. The unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action and hostage rescue. Much of the information and actions regarding the SAS is highly classified, and is not commented on by the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to the sensitivity of their operations.

David Stirling British mountaineer, World War II British Army officer, and the founder of the Special Air Service

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Archibald David Stirling, was a Scottish officer in the British Army, mountaineer, and the founder of the Special Air Service. He saw active service during the Second World War.

Lieutenant Colonel John Michael Woodhouse, was a British Army officer credited with helping to reform the Special Air Service.

The company's first assignment was to go to Yemen to report on the state of the royalist forces when a cease-fire was declared. At the same time Stirling was cultivating his contacts in the Iranian government and exploring the chances of obtaining work in Africa. The company eventually operated in Zambia and in Sierra Leone, providing training teams and advising on security matters. Stirling also organised deals to sell British weapons and military personnel to other countries for various privatised foreign policy operations. Contracts were mainly with the Gulf States and involved weapons supply and training. The company was also linked with a failed attempt to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi from power in Libya in 1971. Woodhouse resigned as Director of Operations after a series of disagreements and Stirling himself ceased to take an active part in 1972. [11]

Stirling also founded KAS International (aka KAS Enterprises) and was involved in a collaboration with the WWF to forcibly reduce the illegal poaching and smuggling of elephant tusks in various countries of Southern Africa. [12] Other groups formed by ex-SAS servicemen were established in the 1970s and 80s, including Control Risks Group and Defence Systems, providing military consultation and training.

Dramatic growth in the number and size of PMCs occurred at the end of the Cold War, as Western governments increasingly began to rely on their services to bolster falling conventional military budgets. Some of the larger corporations are: Vinnell and Military Professional Resources Inc. in the United States; G4S and Keeni-Meeny Services in the United Kingdom; Lordan-Levdan in Israel and Executive Outcomes in South Africa.

The exodus of over 6 million military personnel from Western militaries in the 1990s expanded the recruiting pool for PMCs.

Some commentators have argued that there was an exodus from many special operations forces across the globe towards these private military corporations. Units that were allegedly severely affected included the British Special Air Service, [13] [14] the US Special Operations Forces [15] and the Canadian Joint Task Force 2. [16] Finding work in the industry is not difficult for most former soldiers as their personal network of fellow and ex-soldiers is enough to keep them informed of available contracts.

In 1985, Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) was established in the United States, primarily to preplan for contingencies and to leverage the existing civilian resources. However, it was three years later before it was first used. In support of a United States Third Army mission, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) used LOGCAP to contract for the construction and maintenance of two petroleum pipelines systems in Southwest Asia.

Later, USACE awarded the first contract under LOGCAP to Brown and Root Services (now KBR) in August 1992 as a cost-plus-award-fee contract, which was used in December that year to support the United Nations forces in Somalia.

Some contractors have served in advisory roles, that help train local militaries to fight more effectively, instead of intervening directly. Much of the peacekeeper training Western governments have provided to African militaries was done by private firms,[ citation needed ] and with the increasing absence of Western military support to international peace operations, the private sector was commonly utilized to provide services to peace and stability operations from Haiti to Darfur.

The Center for Public Integrity reported that since 1994, the Defense Department entered into 3,601 contracts worth $300 billion with 12 U.S. based various PMCs within the United States, specifically during the initial response after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Domestic operations are generally under the auspice of state or federal agencies such as the Department of Energy or the Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defense. Driven by increasingly greater fears of domestic terror attacks and civil unrest and disruption in the wake of disasters, more conventional security companies are moving into operations arenas that would fall within the definition of a PMC. The United States State Department also employs several companies to provide support in danger zones that would be difficult for conventional U.S. forces.

PMCs in Iraq

In August 2003 Close Protection operatives from a United Kingdom based security and intelligence company International Intelligence Limited rescued six British lawyers from a hostile crowd in Baghdad, extracting them to a neutral hotel, in a pro bono action despite those solicitors not being clients of the firm. [17]

In December 2006, there were estimated to be at least 100,000 contractors working directly for the United States Department of Defense in Iraq which was a tenfold increase in the use of private contractors for military operations since the Persian Gulf War, just over a decade earlier. [18] The prevalence of PMCs led to the foundation of trade group the Private Security Company Association of Iraq. In Iraq, the issue of accountability, especially in the case of contractors carrying weapons, was a sensitive one. Iraqi laws do not hold over contractors.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld justified the use of PMCs in Iraq on the basis that they were cost effective and useful on the ground. He also affirmed that they were not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. [19]

Two days before he left Iraq, L. Paul Bremer signed "Order 17" giving all Americans associated with the CPA and the American government immunity from Iraqi law. [20] A July 2007 report from the American Congressional Research Service indicates that the Iraqi government still had no authority over private security firms contracted by the U.S. government. [21]

However, in 2007, the Uniform Code of Military Justice was amended to allow for prosecution of military contractors who are deployed in a "declared war or a contingency operation."

PMCs supplied support to U.S. military bases throughout the Persian Gulf, from operating mess halls to providing security. They supplied armed guards at a U.S. Army base in Qatar, and they used live ammunition to train soldiers at Camp Doha in Kuwait. They maintained an array of weapons systems vital to the invasion of Iraq. They also provided bodyguards for VIPs, guard installations, and escort supply convoys from Kuwait. All these resources were called upon constantly. [6]

Contract security in the International (Green) Zone of Baghdad, Iraq. Contract security, Baghdad.jpg
Contract security in the International (Green) Zone of Baghdad, Iraq.

Fatalities

By the end of 2012, the number of contractors who had died in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait had reached 3,000. Scholars have studied whether contractor deaths have an effect the public's "casualty sensitivity" when substituted for military fatalities. [31] Casualty sensitivity refers to the inverse relationship between military deaths and public support for a sustained military engagement. Contractor deaths may account for nearly 30% of total US battlefield losses since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. [32]

Contractor fatalities by employer (2001–2011)
EmployerSubsidiariesFatalities
L3 Communications Titan Corporation, MPRI 373
The Supreme GroupSupreme Food Services241
Compass Security163
Service Employees International127
DynCorp DynCorp Technical Services101
AEGIS Aegis Defense Service, Mission Essential Personnel89

In October 2007, the United Nations released a two-year study that reported, that although hired as "security guards", private contractors performed military duties. Many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are not signatories to the 1989 United Nations Mercenary Convention banning the use of mercenaries. However, a spokesman for the American mission to the U.N. office in Geneva (UNOG) said that "Accusations that U.S. government-contracted security guards, of whatever nationality, are mercenaries is inaccurate." [33] As Martha Lizabeth Phelps points out, the difficulty separating private from public troops means that legal proceedings against these non-state violent actors can be complicated. She claims contracted combatants carry the legitimacy of the state that hires these firms. [9] There is currently no globally accepted norms or legal framework applied to these firms.

The corporate nature of PMSCs (Private Military and Security Contractors) is a barrier to their accountability for violations of international law (Crow & John, 2017). No international court has jurisdiction over these corporations and there is no preexisting mechanism in place bound by international law to account and manage for PMSCs use of force. However, there are a few soft law instruments in which these corporations are held responsible to some degree of legal status. One favorable argument for PMSCs is that they have the skills and expertise necessary to deploy in a short times notice with the ability to provide for a wide range of services (Malamud, 2014). However, outsourcing does bring on the risk of a lack of transparency in the selection process of third party personnel. In addition, the UN is held responsible to ensure a clean human rights record and maintaining a gold standard for missions that entail the use of private contractors. Often, states do not have control over these operations. In many cases, there are doubts to as if the work of private contractors does or does not fall within the boundaries of Article 47 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, as well as relating to the Protections of International Armed Conflicts 1977 amongst others (Karska & Karski, 2014). Although, in 2012 the UN Department of Safety and security published a new policy in which oversees the use of armed private contractors. Planning is also underway at the United Nations to prepare a convention dealing with PMSCs. Establishing clear criteria is necessary to determine when it is permissible to use such companies and for what activities. Criteria such as transparent decision making procedures, solid vetting and screening measures, as well as standard operating procedures.

PMC activities elsewhere

PMC in wildlife conservation

The central african based park-ranger organization African Wildlife Defence Force is contracting former servicemen and lawenforcement personnel to protect national parks and private game ranches in Africa. Candidates must follow an additional retraining to become a park ranger. These are also referred to as Private Ranger Contractors or PRC.

Relation to non-governmental organizations

The rare use of private security contractors by NGOs in dangerous regions is a highly sensitive subject. [47] While rare, many NGOs have sought the services of private security contractors in dangerous areas of operation, such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan due to the following reasons: [47]

Quite often the contractors hired are local companies and mostly are unarmed personnel guarding facilities, only very rarely are international contractors or mobile armed security personnel used. [47]

Contracted security services used by humanitarians% of organizations contracting from international PSPs% organizations contracting from local PSPs
Unarmed guards for facilities/residences/project sites29%77%
Physical security for premises31%55%
Security management consulting37%9%
Security training for staff41%4%
Risk assessment/threat analysis36%7%
Information services26%12%
Armed guards for facilities/residences/project sites17%14%
Standby security13%16%
Mobile escorts (armed)9%13%

However, there are a great many voices against their use who cite the following problems: [47]

The result is that many NGOs are not open about their use of PSPs and researchers' at the Overseas Development Institute studies have found that sometimes statements at NGOs central headquarters contradict those given by local staff. [47] This prevents informative knowledge-sharing and debate on the subject needed to improve NGOs decisions regarding this issue, though there have been some notable exceptions (Afghanistan NGO Security Office (ANSO) and the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI)). [47] The Private Security Contractor fulfills many different needs in the private and public sectors. While some nations rely heavily on the input of governments such as the US, other countries do not trust the US, so they tend to look for private contractors who will have a fiduciary obligation them. According to Joel Vargas, Director of Operations for Contingent Security Services, Ltd and Assistant Director for InterPort Police, it will be impossible to build democracies without having the assistance from the private sector performing activities for clients.[ citation needed ]

Future

After the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, the U.S. State Department is reportedly planning to more than double the number of its private security guards, up to as many as 7,000. Defending five fortified compounds across the country, the security contractors would operate radars to warn of enemy rocket attacks, search for roadside bombs, fly reconnaissance drones and even staff quick reaction forces to aid civilians in distress. The State Department plans to acquire 60 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs) from the US military to expand its inventory of armored cars to 1,320 and to create a mini-air fleet by buying three planes to add to its lone aircraft. Its helicopter fleet, which will be piloted by contractors, will grow from 17 to 29. [48]

Due to strain of United States Armed Forces, the U.S. State Department and The Pentagon has also outsourced the expanded military training in Africa to three companies: Military Professional Resources Inc. (M.P.R.I), DFI International and Logicon (Now owned by Northrop Grumman). [34]

Regulation

Demands for specific PSC services have grown to record levels in recent decades, and private firm’s capabilities now include an array of services that are vital to the success of on-the-ground war fighting as well as other more traditional stability operations and contingency contracting. While past calls for corporate responsibility have heralded successes such as the Kimberley Process and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in widespread international operations, there has also been a move within the PSC and contingency contracting industries to call for accountability and to implement a code of ethics for the retention of services and operations of such service providers. Existing credible accountability initiatives form a skeleton for governing the conduct of contractors, but much remains to be fleshed out to form a coherent and standardized framework from which to oversee such organizations and activities. Over the last decade there have been a number of initiatives to regulate the private security industry. [49] These include the ISO/PAS 28007:2012 Guidelines for Private Maritime Security Companies [50] and the ANSI/ASIS PSC.1 and PSC.4 standards.

ASIS Commission on Standards

Founded in 1955, ASIS is a society of individual security professionals dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and productivity of security professionals by developing educational programs and materials. ASIS is an ANSI-accredited Standards Developing Organization, and within ASIS the ASIS Commission on Standards and Guidelines works with national and international standards-setting organizations and industry representatives to develop voluntary standards and guidelines for security professionals. With funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, the ASIS Commission on Standards is currently promulgating four sets of standards for private security companies. [51]

PSC.1 - MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR QUALITY OF PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANY OPERATIONS-REQUIREMENTS WITH GUIDANCE [51] This Standard provides auditable criteria for quality assurance of Private Security Company (PSC) operations and services, consistent with pertinent legal and human rights obligations and good practices recognized in the Montreux Document and the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers. The development of this Standard was facilitated by the U.S. Department of Defense through a consensus-based process. The DOD was required by Congress through Section 833 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 to begin using business and operational standards in contracting and management of PSCs, with the intent of raising the overall standard of performance of these companies. This Standard fulfills that mandate. It has also been recognized by the American National Standards Institute and are achieving international recognition.

PSC.2 - CONFORMITY ASSESSMENT AND AUDITING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR QUALITY OF PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANY OPERATION [51] This Standard provides requirements and guidance for conducting conformity assessment of the Management System for Quality of Private Security Company Operations (PSC) Standard. It provides requirements for bodies providing auditing and third party certification of Private Security Company Operations - private security providers working for any client. It provides requirements and guidance on the management of audit programs, conduct of internal or external audits of the management system and PSC operations, as well as on competence and evaluation of auditors.

PSC.3 - MATURITY MODEL FOR THE PHASED IMPLEMENTATION OF A QUALITY ASSURANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR PRIVATE SECURITY SERVICE PROVIDERS [51] Standard PSC.3 development is complete and has been approved in January 2013. PSC.3 will benefit private security service providers in improving their quality of services consistent with respect for human rights and legal and contractual obligations. It will provide a basis for managing risk while reducing costs, demonstrating legal compliance, enhancing stakeholder relations, and meeting client expectations. The model standard outlines six phases ranging from no process in place for quality assurance management, to going beyond the requirements of the standard. Criteria based on core elements of ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012 Standard can be used to demonstrate continual improvement and are compatible with rewards and recognition programs.

PSC.4 - QUALITY ASSURANCE AND SECURITY MANAGEMENT FOR PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANY'S OPERATING IN THE MARITIME ENVIRONMENT [51] This Standard provides guidance for PMSCs to implement the ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012 for private maritime security companies. It establishes guidance on quality assurance in all security related activities and functions while demonstrating accountability to law and respect for human rights.

The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers

In 2008, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Swiss government, and contributors from private security companies and the civil society/NGO sector developed and proposed the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies. The document details international legal obligations and lists specific recommendations related to PSC services procurement practices and operational oversight, and clarifies the obligations of States pertaining to the hiring of such entities during armed conflicts. [52]

Cultural references

In video games

Private military companies are explored extensively in the Metal Gear video game franchise, with several games (particularly Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker , Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots , and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain ) featuring the command of fictional PMCs. [53] In the video game storyline, which takes place in the 20th and 21st centuries, traditional militaries eventually collapse as the world becomes run by PMCs. [54]

In Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare , the main character Jack Mitchell is an operative at a PMC called ATLAS.

In Grand Theft Auto V , the main character Trevor Philips often comes into contact with Merryweather, a fictional private military firm that parodies Academi.

In Tom Clancy's The Division , the Last Man Battalion, often referred as LMB, is an Private Military Company which fights against Agents of the Strategic Homeland Division, also known as SHD or The Division, Joint Task Force Officers and civilians.

In Contract Wars and its sequels, Hired Ops and Escape from Tarkov , the armed conflict erupts between two fictional PMCs, the Russian BEAR and the western USEC.

In Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction , the PMC Executive Operations (aka ExOps) the main organization sending agents into a war-torn Korea fighting a second Korean War; the sequel Mercenaries 2: World in Flames sees the characters from the first game be involved in a conflict in Venezuela, but in a PMC set up by them to deal with the leader of Venezuela, who has betrayed them.

In television

In Marvel Television's The Punisher on Netflix a PMC by the name of ANVIL is heavily featured. ANVIL's founder, Billy Russo, being one of the primary antagonists of the series. [55] Much like real PMCs, ANVIL provides training spaces for U.S. forces on American and foreign soil. [56]

See also

Resources

Academic publications

Non-academic publications

Related Research Articles

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Nisour Square massacre

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The Wagner Group, also known as PMC Wagner, ChVK Wagner, or CHVK Vagner, is a Russian paramilitary organization. Some have described it as a private military company, whose contractors have reportedly taken part in various conflicts, including operations in the Syrian Civil War on the side of the Syrian government as well as, from 2014 until 2015, in the War in Donbass in Ukraine aiding the separatist forces of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. Others are of the opinion that ChVK Wagner is really a unit of the Russian Ministry of Defence in disguise, which is used by the Russian government in conflicts where deniability is called for.

Blackwater 61 crash

Blackwater 61 was the callsign of a CASA 212, registration N960BW, operated by Presidential Airways Inc, the aviation subsidiary of the private security contractor Blackwater USA, that crashed in the mountains of remote central Afghanistan on November 27th, 2004. The turboprop airplane was carrying three military passengers and three members of the flight crew when it crashed. According to the NTSB investigative report of the accident, the Blackwater pilots were "behaving unprofessionally" and were "deliberately flying the nonstandard route low through the valley for fun." The accident contributed to the debate over the use of private military contractors in war-zones and Blackwater's hiring practices and standard operating procedures. Blackwater aircraft had been operating in Afghanistan under contract with the U.S. military to transport troops and supplies throughout the country. Five people aboard the aircraft died in the crash, while one later died awaiting rescue.

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