Nation & World

Blackwater USA announces expansion

North Carolina military contractor Blackwater USA, which provides security and training for military and law enforcement, plans to expand into California and the Philippines, company executives said.

The eight-year-old private company intends to open a compound at an undisclosed site in southern California and start a 25-acre jungle survival skills training center at the former Subic Bay naval base in the Philippines.

Neither project will eclipse Blackwater's 7,000-acre compound in Camden and Currituck counties, officials said.

Blackwater employs 1,300 contractors with a database of 4,700 more. It trains 500 military and law-enforcement personnel a week, according to Fast Company magazine, which has selected Blackwater as one of its top 50 innovative business leaders.

The company also plans to build a 6,000-foot airstrip, a 2,550-foot airstrip, a 5,000-square-foot pilot building and a 20,000-square-foot hangar in Camden County to accommodate 22 rotary and fixed-wing aircraft.

Blackwater has federal contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to provide security and training in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The company, which mostly hires former military or law-enforcement personnel for its security teams, is interested also in creating a brigade-size force.

The small army could be contracted for peacekeeping and stability operations in troubled regions of the world, Blackwater Vice Chairman Cofer Black said recently.