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.