‘Blackwater Air’ Is Back, and Flying for U.S. Special Forces
(DAILY BEAST) A mercenary air force that became a symbol of the U.S. occupation of Iraq is back in action—this time in Central Africa, supporting a shadowy American U.S. Special Forces commando operation targeting the Lord’s Resistance Army.
In late January, a source on the ground in Central African Republic spotted a Sikorsky S-61 helicopter with the registry number N408RC carrying American Special Forces troops. The LRA, a cultish band of thieves and rapists led by warlord Joseph Kony, is most active in the forested region where Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo meet.
In 2010, President Barack Obama deployed around 100 Green Berets and other personnel to Central Africa to help local forces hunt down Kony and the LRA. Seven years later, Operation Observant Compass continues, mostly unnoticed by the press. The Pentagon asked Congress for $23 million to extend the operation through 2017.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Sikorsky helicopter that The Daily Beast’s source observed in Central African Republic belongs to Illinois-based EP Aviation, LLC.
EP Aviation was once a subsidiary of Academi, the Virginia-based company that was formerly known as Blackwater. The “EP” stands for “Erik Prince,” Blackwater’s founder and the younger brother of billionaire U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.