Blackwater Concedes Its Trainers Had No Authorization to Carry Weapons in Afghanistan
Why did Blackwater/Paravant’s personnel carry weapons in Afghanistan for “personal use,” anyway? Brian McCracken, the former Paravant vice president, conceded to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) that it never received authorization from either the Army or U.S. Central Command, as it needed before carrying guns in a war zone. He nevertheless said he discussed it with the Army and a “decision was made.”
But by whom? The Army civilian official overseeing the contract said that by the time he left his job in January 2009, no decision had been made. And when Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — who represents Blackwater’s home state — asked the former commander of the Afghan training mission, retired Army Col. Bradley Wakefield, whether he approved the arming, Wakefield bluntly replied, “No.”
There’s no dispute that Blackwater wanted to be armed. There’s also no dispute that its employees were ultimately armed. But the emerging picture is that Blackwater made that decision unilaterally, without the necessary approval from U.S. Central Command and the Army.