The security company was founded in 1997 as Blackwater USA by Erik Prince and Al Clark. In October of the same year the company was renamed Blackwater Worldwide and more recently Xe (prounouced Zee) services. Now, an unverifiable report in the New York Times alleges that Erik Prince has formed a new company – Reflex Responses.
This description of Reflex Responses Management Consultancy, LLC came from the 2011 International Defense Exhibition and Conferece website.
Reflex Responses Management Consultancy LLC, is an Emirati Owned and Internationally Managed company, commonly referred to as R2. As the Premier Security Consultant and Training supplier for the United Arab Emirates, R2 has built its reputation of providing the right people for the right solution at a fair price.
While the Times can confirm that a new security company called Reflex Responses has been created and that the UAE has a contract with them, the report admits that they have no independent, named sources – just confidential, unnamed informants and a questionable paper trail to back up their story.
..the documents — including contracts, budget sheets and blueprints — obtained by The Times do not mention Mr. Prince
It is likely that Erik Prince would continue doing what he’s always done – run private military operations. But why does the UAE need one?
Some security consultants believe that Mr. Prince’s efforts to bolster the Emirates’ defenses against an Iranian threat might yield some benefits for the American government, which shares the U.A.E.’s concern about creeping Iranian influence in the region.
“As much as Erik Prince is a pariah in the United States, he may be just what the doctor ordered in the U.A.E.,” said an American security consultant with knowledge of R2’s work.
It has been conjectured that elements of Iran’s Hezbollah fomented some of the unrest currently spreading in the middle-east. The UAE may simply be protecting itself by using the same tactics that Iran uses – a secret private army. The UAE has been the target of Iranian aggression before.
In April of 1992, Iran took over the island of Abu Musa and expelled the UAE inhabitants. Considering the small size of the UAE military, if Iran wanted to make a further land grab, the Emirates could do little to stop them and the U.N. has increasingly shown it’s inability to keep Iran from doing much of anything.
A larger challenge for a private army is long-term motivation. When a soldier is doing something to defend his own nation, steadfastness comes easy. When simply collecting a paycheck, discipline and turnover will be real problems.
If R2 can build and maintain an effective force at battalion strength, good or bad, they may be demonstrating an emerging model in the middle-east.