Over the last decade, private security companies have become increasingly popular throughout the world, providing security services such as protecting governmental buildings throughout the United States to guarding military convoys in the Middle East. Although there are many such companies in existence, the majority of the contracts held overseas are awarded to a select few organizations with the knowledge, training and manpower necessary to provide adequate service internationally.
Formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, the company was founded in 1997 and is the largest of three companies contracted by the US government. The company was initially formed to provide training for local and regional law enforcement, but today provides risk assessment, training and security solutions around the globe. The company provides different types of security, as well as mission support and staff augmentation. The agency gained attention in 2004 when four contractors were killed in Fallujah, Iraq, and their bodies hung from a bridge. After the incident, Blackwater came under intense scrutiny, and many viewed their actions in Iraq more as mercenaries than a security force. In 2007, Iraqi authorities claimed that Blackwater guards fired on civilians in Baghdad, killing as many as 20. In another incident, an employee of the company, who witnesses say was drunk, shot and killed the Iraqi Vice President, Adel Abdel Mahdi’s bodyguard. In 2011, a private equity consortium purchased the company from founder Erik Prince, renaming it Academi and making significant changes to the company. Today, the company focuses more on training, while still providing security overseas for governments and businesses.
A subsidiary of Genoa-Knowlton, Inc., GK Sierra was founded in 2007, and was originally a cryptographic technology provider. Today, the private security company contracts with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), collecting intelligence both domestically and internationally. According to the Small Business Association (SBA), the company focuses on computer forensic and private investigations, as well as technical surveillance counter-measures throughout the world.
Formed in 1984 by Walter Holloway and John Mansur, both former US Air Commandos, Airscan focuses on airborne surveillance and are one of the few companies to operate unmanned aerial vehicles. In 2011, the company was awarded a $50 million contract to provide real-time over-target video for air surveillance support in Iraq. In 1998, the homeland security company came under investigation after the Columbian Air Force bombed the village of Santa Domingo, killing 18 people, seven of which were children, based on intelligence provided by Airscan. The company claimed the planes only surveyed pipelines in the area and did not provide any military intelligence.
Initially begun as a pipe fabrication company in 1901, the company the national security company has expanded tremendously to include structural integrity management and as a leading provider of border security for the United States. At one time, the company was a subsidiary of the well-known Halliburton company, but in 2006 separated from the conglomerate. KBR provides custom solutions related to homeland security issue, as well as systems that enhance border control, integrate processes and mitigate risk.
Started in 1946 as Land-Air, Inc., DynCorp International was awarded the first Contract Field Teams contract by the United States Air Force in 1951. Homeland security firms offered these contracts provide mission support to US military aircraft and weapons throughout the globe. The company integrates capabilities for security solutions, provides response to sustained missions and deploys field personnel to areas where the US military needs additional support. The US State Department awarded contracts to the company to help the Iraqi government set up law enforcement and correctional agencies. At one point, the company assisted with the Plan Columbia program, which had Dyncorp pilots flying missions to eliminate Columbia’s coca fields. US Representative Janice Schakowsky of Illinois said that the program had civilian pilots flying combat missions and that it was “asking for trouble.” In 2001, the UN International Police Force filed a lawsuit against the company claiming that Dyncorp trainers engaged in human trafficking and engaged in prostitution, causing the company to force the employees involved to resign. However, because they were immune from prosecution in a foreign country, none of them faced charges in the incidents.
Commonly known as the Titan Corporation, the security company was acquired by L-3 Communications in 2005. Initially, the division was called the Titan Group of L-3, but in 2007, employees were instructed to stop using the name. L-3 Communications provides information and communications services for the Department of Homeland Security, as well as intelligence agencies for the United States. In addition to a contract with the government to provide linguistic services, the company also has contracts with the Airborne Warning and Control System, supplying the agency with spy planes, and with the US Navy to design war games. The homeland security company also provides support for the National Exercise Program for the Department of Homeland Security.
Northrop Grumman, most commonly known for building and providing aircraft to governmental or private industries, also provides homeland security services through their Information Systems Division. This division supports the Department of Homeland Security who rely on classified information to perform duties that protect the security of the United States. In addition, the company provides data used to simulate scenarios at the Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center. The Northrop Company began in 1939 when John. K. “Jack” Northrop, incorporated the organization, building their first aircraft, the N-3PB, in 1940. The Grumman Corporation, started in 1930, by Leroy Grumman, Jack Swirbul, Bill Schwendler, E. Clint Towl and Ed Poor, got their start in an abandoned auto garage. In 1931, the XFF-1 became the first Navy fighter with fully retractable landing gear, designed by Grumman. In 1994, Grumman was acquired by the Northrop Corporation, and is part of the Information Systems Division of the company.
Raytheon provides intelligence and cybersecurity products designed for homeland security. In 1922, the company began as the American Appliance Company, founded by Vannevar Bush, Laurence Marshall and Charles G. Smith. The founders developed the S-gas rectifier tube which transformed the radio industry, and are primarily known as an electronic part company. However, a little known division of Raytheon provides national security services, using technology and manpower throughout the world. The company provides state-of-the art electronics and security to the United States Homeland Security department.
A division of Northrup Grumman, the Vinnell Corporation began in California in 1931 as a construction company, until the end of World War II, when it contracted with the government to ship supplies to the Chinese army and to build military airfields in Pakistan, Thailand, Taiwan and other countries. The organization provides missile defense, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to the military. During the Vietnam War, Vinnell provided over 4,000 personnel throughout the country, winning numerous protection contracts. Some experts believe that the company overextended itself in Vietnam, and were on the brink of financial ruin when the Saudi government contracted the security company to help train the Saudi Arabian National Guard in 1975. In 2003, nine employees of the private security company died when a residential and office facility used by the Vinnell Arabia suffered an apparent terrorist attack. The company was mentioned in the movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, which claimed the company had ties to the Saudi royal family and to President George Bush.
MVM Inc., founded in 1979 by former federal law enforcement agents, provides physical security services in more than 85 countries. The national security company protects critical infrastructure and other assets, including employees based overseas. The company focuses on mitigating risk so that missions succeed safely, using their own specialized training programs to instruct personnel in special operations. The company is based out of Ashburn, Virginia.