Blackwater and DynCorp, the two leading mercenary firms servicing the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have both undertaken steps toward significant structural changes over the past month. In the case of DynCorp, the ownership of the whole business seems to be changing hands, while Blackwater is dumping its private air force.
Cerberus Capital Management, one of the largest private equity firms in the US announced April 12 it was buying DynCorp, the massive, publicly traded company, which is akin to the Wal-Mart of the private security industry, for $1 billion in cash. Cerberus counts among its big wigs former vice president Dan Quayle, who often represents the company internationally. DynCorp has had its share of scandals over the years, including whistleblower allegations that personnel have engaged in organized sex-slave trading with girls as young as 12 and allegations its personnel have assaulted journalists. It has been rebuked by the State Department for its "aggressive behavior" in interactions with European diplomats, NATO forces and journalists in Afghanistan. A 2007 US government audit of DynCorp’s work in Iraq found that the State Department "does not know specifically what it received for most of the $1.2 billion in expenditures under its DynCorp
Cerberus seems to have had a dream of owning its own mercenary business for at least a few years. In April 2008, the company was reportedly looking to buy Blackwater. The deal apparently fell through because of concerns over Blackwater’s reputation.
For over a year, Blackwater has tried to act like it is under new ownership. It isn’t. Erik Prince remains its sole owner. The company has tried to change its name, creating alter egos such as Xe Services and US Training Center. It even went so far as to create an apparent shell company, Paravant, in an effort to trick the government into giving it more contracts in Afghanistan, according to Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin. Paravant is also the "company" whose personnel reportedly signed out hundreds of weapons in Iraq under the name of the popular South Park character Eric Cartman. In January, two Paravant operatives were arrested by the FBI on charges they murdered Afghan civilians.