Hillsdale ’92 alumnus Erik Prince founded Blackwater in 1997.  Wikimedia Commons

For Blackwater founder Erik Prince ’92, a government-funded military just isn’t going to be enough.

“Sixteen years of war, a trillion dollars in Afghanistan, and we’re losing,” the Hillsdale alumnus said in his lecture in Searle Center on Monday afternoon. “I think as taxpayers and citizens, as parents who send our kids into difficult places, it’s time to rethink what’s been going on.”

To a crowd of more than 300 Center for Constructive Alternatives attendees and students, Prince argued for increased privatization of the military, saying companies like Blackwater, which provide private military services, can reduce the cost and number of lives poured into war.

“We’re wasting a lot of money,” he said. “Conventional approaches have not been working for the last 16 years.”

Prince left the U.S. Naval Academy to attend Hillsdale but returned after his graduation in 1992. He founded Blackwater in 1997 to provide private military contracting services. He later sold the company, now named Academi, amid controversy. Prince also wrote the book “Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror.”

In his lecture, Prince spoke to the bloat and ineffectiveness of the military, using the U.S. Navy as an example. He said despite an overabundance of commanding officers, the Navy still struggles with “multiple collisions [between friendly ships], real culture problems, and real readiness issues.”

Transferring the military to the private sector, he argued, could reduce spending and boost innovation.

“Imagine if the Pentagon today tried to build an iPhone,” he said to laughter from the crowd. “Why has there been so much advancement in the tech space? Because it’s the least regulated.”

It would also save lives, he said, since a smaller, private team could work faster than military forces.

Private response teams are not a new concept, according to Prince. Early insurance companies who provided firefighting crews were essentially a contracted response team, as was the Flying Tigers, the volunteer pilot crew from the United States who defended Japan from China during World War II.

“This idea that contractors are a new thing: sorry, but that’s ignorance,” Prince said.

And although privatized military contracting might receive pushback elsewhere, some veterans in attendance reacted positively to Prince’s idea.

“I think most veterans think it’s a good idea,” said freshman Elias McConnell, who served for four years in the Marine Corps before attending Hillsdale College.

Senior John Novak, who served in the Marine Corps for 13 years, said the life-saving aspect of Prince’s proposal particularly interested him.

“I thought it was great, as far as effectiveness and being easier on the American people,” Novak said.

For Prince, it comes down to the power of the free market.

“If you believe in the power of market forces…[If you believe] in the power of the private sector,” Prince said, “you should think about how the private sector can do better in the national security space.”

  • Ellsworth_Toohey

    Wow… why not just revoke the Constitution also?

    The fundamental role of government is to provide a common defense (military) and a court system.

    Now I don’t disagree with Prince about the bloat of the current Military, Dwight Eisenhower warned us of that, but the solution isn’t to replace one flawed goverment system with a more efficient, but equally flawed private system.

    The solution is to follow the Constitution.

    Our founding fathers wisely gave Congress the sole authority to declare war. We won World War 2 decisively, called our greatest generation, without the private contractors Prince advocates. And by no coincidence World War 2 was the last war this nation and Congress declared.

    It’s shameful the college has embraced Prince and the crony capitalism he stands for. Shall I remind you the Declaration of Independence had this to say about the private armies (mercenaries) that Prince advocates for as one of the various misdeeds of King George?


  • PITA 13

    If I may, please,
    Trying to get flyers at malls, outside local dem HQ’s, etc. saying the below or something similar. These people deserve no mercy, no let up. The American people need to be constantly reminded what low life’s the democrats are. Thanks.

    Isis, by their actions, are Godless.
    Isis, by their actions and words, show that they will murder American babies (our future).
    Isis, if it could, would violently
    “take down America”
    Isis is an enemy of “America”.

    Democrats, by their own words, are Godless.
    Democrats, by their words and deeds, will murder American babies. 
    Democrats, use blm and antifa, to violently “take down “America”.

    Isis and Democrats are friends and allies, to “take down “America”.
    Democrats are enemies of “America”.
    The democrats will never be allowed to hold power in this country again. Ever.

    And to you libs, if your side wins, my comments like above would end me. If you, mocked your “new leftist masters”, you too, would end also. Think about it. Thanks very much.

    Pass it on to your favorite lib website. Thanks very much again for your time.

  • Camus53

    Erik Prince, founder and former chief executive of military contractor Blackwater, is facing the possibility of indictment for money laundering, connections to Chinese intelligence services and orchestrating prohibited security and consulting services to Libya.

    Blackwater, now known as Academi, has provided security services to the U.S. government since 2003 and has been awarded contracts for its services in excess of $1 billion.

    Prince left Blackwater, then known as Xe Services, in 2010 and formed Frontier Services Group in 2014.

    Frontier Services Group’s chief investors are China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC), a Beijing-owned investment firm and Hong Kong-based entrepreneur — Chun Shun Ko (Johnson Ko) — who also serves as chairman of Shen Yuan Holdings and executive chairman of Varitronix International Limited.

    At the intersection of Prince’s and Ko’s relationship lie the problem: Prince’s and Frontier Services’ affiliation with Ko has led Justice Department investigators to allege Prince was abetted by Chinese intelligence to create a bank account with the Bank of China to expand Frontier Services’ business operations in Africa, according to The Intercept.

    Similarly, Prince is under scrutiny for a series of business trips to African nations to market Frontier Services’ assistance. Regarding Libya, a country under restrictions from the State Department, Prince is alleged to have solicited defense services.