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July 27th, 2006 - Open Knowledge

Jul. 27th, 2006

10:31 am - Blackwater: Inside America's Private Army

http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/story.cfm?story=107946&ran=29743

Blackwater: Inside America's Private Army
By JOANNE KIMBERLIN AND BILL SIZEMORE, The Virginian-Pilot
© July 23, 2006


MOYOCK, N.C. - Today's after-lunch lesson: How to break a man's arm with your bare hands.

The students pay close attention. On a patch of grass under a powder-blue sky, they pair off to practice the moves - like the steps to some merciless dance:

Hold here. Pivot there. Trap arm. Bend. And snap.

Slavko Ilic circles the grappling forms, darting in to shout encouragement or correct a technique. He's an extra-large martial arts expert. He sports a shaved head, chiseled arms and the look of a man who does not back down.

"Again!" Ilic barks. "Do it again!"

Getting it right in class now could be the difference between life and death later. Graduates are, most likely, headed to the messy battlefields of the war on terrorism - a fitful conflict with no front lines.

These men are not soldiers, at least not anymore. All have military experience, but in order to join a new breed of warriors - private security contractors - they must pass this eight-week, $20,000 course.

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