Sources that wish to remain unidentified in Thailand and others close to Blackwater executives report that Blackwater USA is in negotiations with the government of Thailand. The purpose of the talks is reportedly to open a training center in the country. Having lost their attempt last year to open a jungle training facility in the Philippines, it appears that Blackwater has now turned its sights on Thailand.
Blackwater President Gary Jackson said in May of 2006, according to a June article in the Virginian Pilot that the company planned to open an Asian branch on 25 acres of the former U.S. naval base at Subric Bay to teach jungle survival skills.
The Philippine Congress however took steps to stop those plans before a facility could open. Chris Taylor, a Blackwater vice president, blamed the controversy on “misinformation and confusion.”
Blackwater USA, located in at least nine countries world wide, is one of the most widely known of the many private military firms that have flourished since the start of the war in Iraq. Gary Jackson said the company saw a 600% revenue jump from 2002 to 2005. Earlier this year they started to provide training in the Sudan region.
Many Thai citizens feel this is not good news for the future of democracy in Thailand. Those close to the events in Thailand fear that given the current political situation the people will not be informed of this deal or its significance. In an email correspondence one Thai citizen said an agreement to allow Blackwater to set up in the country would be a “disaster” for the future of Thai democracy.
Blackwater spokesperson Anne Tyrrell said, “Blackwater has no definitive plans whatsoever to open a facility in Thailand.” She also added, “We are always exploring options, but keep in mind that anything we would or could do abroad would require Department of State approval, in Thailand or anywhere else.”