| ArmorGroup |
(Private military contractor)
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
|One of the largest private security firms operating in Iraq|
ArmorGroup International was a British private military contractor company (now part of G4S) providing protective security services, risk management, consultancy, security training and mine action services.
On 13 April 2004, The Guardian reported that former Conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind had been appointed chairman of ArmorGroup, one of the largest private security firms operating in Iraq:
- Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who served in John Major's government during the 1990s, is now the prospective parliamentary candidate for Michael Portillo's safe Tory seat of Kensington and Chelsea. Sir Malcolm will be part-time and based in London. The US-owned company is not disclosing what his salary will be.
- According to its website, ArmorGroup has 7,500 employees in 50 locations including 650 employees in Iraq, as well as significant numbers in Afghanistan. It says its work is to "identify, reduce and resolve exceptional risks in complex, sometimes hostile, environments".
ArmorGroup began operations in 1981 as Defence Systems Limited (DSL), a company founded "to provide protective security services principally to multinational oil and gas companies." The publicly traded Armor Holdings, Inc., a business principally involved in the manufacture of armoured vehicles and law enforcement equipment, acquired DSL in 1997. Some of the current senior management team carried out a Management Buyout of the company in November 2003, backed by Granville Baird Capital Partners and Barclays Bank. ArmorGroup was listed on the main list of the London Stock Exchange in December 2004.
In 2007, it posted a US$9.2 million profit and reported a $295 million turnover for that year. On 20 March 2008, the company announced that its Board had recommended a £43.6 million cash offer for the company by G4S plc. The acquisition completed on 29 April 2008 and G4S basically retired the "ArmorGroup" name, although ArmorGroup North America Inc. ("AGNA") is still in existence.
Iraq and Afghanistan
ArmorGroup was a founder and full member of the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA), the British Association of Private Security Companies (BAPSC) and the now-defunct Private Security Company Association of Iraq (PSCAI). In 2007 BAPSC chief Andrew Bearpark estimated his members were employing about 10,000 contractors worldwide. Some firms were diversifying into areas such as African landmine clearance and most still provide security in hotspots like Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr Bearpark acknowledged that while there may have been some short-term contraction in demand for his members' services in Iraq, in the longer term prospects have never looked healthier. He said:
- "The British Government has ever-increasing ambitions in terms of foreign policy and operations abroad. But the British military is more and more strapped. I think it is inevitable that in years to come, the private security companies will be asked to make up some of that shortfall."
In Afghanistan, the Foreign Office spent £19.6 million in 2007 on protection provided by ArmorGroup, whose chairman then was former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind. An FCO spokesman said:
- "With the UK government's increasing commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan, and an increasing number of civilians that that entails, it's fair to say we are making more use of private security firms."
According to former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw, ArmorGroup and Control Risks were being paid a combined total of £50,000 a day to protect bureaucrats stationed in Iraq. This included a £876,000 contract to supply 20 security guards for the Foreign Office - a figure that was set to rise dramatically
Sold to ArmorGroup in 2005 for £4 million Phoenix CP was founded five years earlier by former SAS men Jim Devenney and Michael Clifford, the only SAS member to be awarded the OBE for his services to that regiment. With Devenney retired the company was run by Clifford. According to its website it is the UK’s leading specialist provider of close protection training to security professionals and military personnel as part of resettlement courses.
It has trained men and women for the commercial sector since 2000 and holds preferred supplier status with the Ministry of Defence for Armed Forces’ resettlement training. Its website says that Phoenix-trained personnel are highly sought after and deployed on a wide variety of close protection assignments throughout the world (wherever ArmorGroup operates).
Based in Hereford the company works closely with military resettlement organisations and is registered with the Department of Education and Skills and can therefore accept students taking advantage of Career Development Loans or other government led initiatives.
Until 2010 ArmorGroup's Chief Operating Officer was Noel Philp, who had worked in the protective security industry since the late ‘80s. Prior to this he had a 20-year military career in both the New Zealand Army and the British Army, primarily in the SAS, retiring in 1989. Philp joined Defence Systems Limited (DSL) in 1989. Core business was protective security, primarily of the oil and gas industry, in high-risk environments in Africa, the Middle East, South America, the Former Soviet Union and for the UN in the Balkans. He was appointed Managing Director DSL in 1998 and Chief Operating Officer ArmorGroup in 2002 when DSL was acquired by US-based Armor Holdings Inc. Noel was one of the Directors that listed ArmorGroup on the Main London Stock Exchange when ArmorGroup was a major contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Warlord Scandal in Afghanistan
On 7 October 2010, the Senate Armed Services Committee released a report detailing how ArmorGroup turned to local, Afghan warlords to provide most of the guard force at a US airbase in the Herat Province in Western Afghanistan. The report included statements from many, including an Army sergeant, who said that one of the warlords used by the company "would provide money because of his contracting jobs with ArmorGroup. He had a lot of money from that and he would give that money to Taliban commanders, and they in turn would buy weapons and ammo, whatever they needed."
The Danny Fitzsimons Case
On February 28, 2011, Danny Fitzsimons, a British employee of ArmorGroup, was sentenced to twenty years in prison for killing two colleagues and attempting to murder an Iraqi man. He was the first contractor to be tried in Iraqi courts. No formal inquiry was made into who armed Fitzsimons, a man who had a criminal record, pending weapons charges, had been diagnosed as having psychiatric issues, was fired from two other security companies and was known to be a problem among his peers.
The board of directors included Stephen Kappes, who resigned to become Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
- Alec Klein, For Security in Iraq, a Turn to British Know-How, Washington Post, 24 August 2007.
- "G4S Completes Acquisition of ArmorGroup International plc | G4S". g4s.com. 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
- "Rifkind made head of Iraq security firm"
- Brian Brady "Former foreign minister cashes in on Iraq crisis", Scotland on Sunday, Published Date: 23 May 2004
- Robert Fisk and Severin Carrell "Occupiers Spend Millions on Private Army of Security Men", The Independent, 28 March 2004
- "It was a tough nut to crack but we've made £4m" Western Daily Press 19 November 2005 SECTION: News; Other; Others; Pg. 8
- Phoenix CP Homepage, Archived version of <http://www.phoenixcp.com/index.htm> dated 16 March 2005, accessed 7 September 2009
- "Noel Philp - Chief Operating Officer ArmorGroup"
- "Senate Armed Services Committee Releases Report on the Role and Oversight of DoD's Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan", Senator Carl Levin, 7 October 2010
- "Danny Fitzsimons Jailed for Iraq Security Guard Murders", BBC, 28 February 2011