Aguieus-HTS a private civilian mercenary training company proposes to build a 500+ acre combat training center on leased land in the environmentally sensitive Green Swamp area of south Lake County Florida.
There are two main problems with this proposal:
The first being that the damage impact on the already stressed watershed and ecosystems within the Green Swamp will be made irreparable by the inherent nature of war training involving munitions explosions whose chemical residues will eventually leak into the ground water that supply life to everything.
Not to mention scaring the crap out of every living thing with in miles.
The second is the idea of a private company coming seemingly from nowhere to a position of offering courses for government, military, and law enforcement personnel, and firms that contract with the U.S. government and the military. No courses are offered to the public. (www.aguieus-hts.com)
This is Florida's Blackwater, the mercenary company famous for its license to kill in Iraq out side the law, unaccountable to Iraqi, U.S. or military law.
I take my opinion from an article in the March 3 Orlando Sentinel titled "Combat training plan spurs habitat concerns."
While the habitat concerns are legitimate, another real issue remains to be resolved, and that is how this project took shape coming to the attention of authorities in Lake, Polk, and Orange counties only after local property owners called their local police abut a gun range being constructed nearby.
I imagine it may have been the 24 National Guardsmen from Tampa, the home town of Aguieus-HTS, whose marksmanship practice there alerted the neighbors.
As reported in the Sentinel, Aguieus executives expect to present Lake County with site plans for development review within two months, and to start construction soon after receiving approval, as though it were a done deal.
A Sheriffs office helicopter over-flight revealed fifteen foot earth mounds, presumably the ones the National Guard fired into. This prompted a visit by Lake County officials, who cited property owners Boyett Land Co. for building the berms and removing trees without proper county permitting.
Greenwater, I mean Aguieus's punishment for destroying the earth and bring in military munitions to pollute the earth is to be asked by Lake County's environmental-compliance and enforcement division to go through the process of pre-submittal application, whatever that means, other than the green light to proceed.
Lake and Polk Sheriff's offices have weighed in, saying that their concern is with public safety, and that they are sure the proper permitting will be obtained--ignoring the fact that military live fire exercises have been conducted before applications have even been submitted.
This is an insidious assault on our democracy being revealed before our eyes just as the entire military contractor enterprise is coming into question as a back door draft, with private military for-profit mercenaries backing up the U.S. military, off the war books, so to speak.
The role of the security of the United States belongs with the United States and not with for-profit private companies whose allegiance is to the bottom line and not the United States.
American soldiers who serve at a fraction of the pay of these military contractors, serve our country, the contractors serve the dollar, which further depletes the military as the best leave the military after expensive training to work for the private companies in the business of death.
The rise of these private training facility's is a reason for alarm. Build it and they will come is the credo, government dollars to train government soldiers administrated for profit by private companies who are now branching into intelligence contracts for spying.
Why should the U.S. military identify training needs and build the bases to facilitate these needs which they would own and not rent when a profit can be made from war?
Because war profiteering is a crime unless it gets government cover, which in this case it is.
Who in the military gave the go ahead for a live fire exercise in the Green Swamp by the National Guard before permits were issued and what is the military relationship to Aguieus-HTS and Lake County officials that would allow corporal Mike Goss heading the Sheriffs department intelligence unit to declare "We are in the process of looking into it just to make sure everything is legitimate" after meeting with Michael Bingham, an Aguieus owner at the property.
Greenwater has it down, including expansion plans as seen on their website: www.aguieus-hts.com
This is part and parcel of the failed Donald Rumsfeld/Dick Cheney plan to privatize everything military for corporate and personal profit at the expense of the armed services that lose because their training dollars are diluted by corporate profit taking. It's all money, our money, given to corporations to cash in on war.
This Green Swamp deal cannot go forward without a fight both for the swamp and American democracy.
Aguieus from Greek mythology is the protector of streets. Company motto, "Acta non verba"--actions not words, apparently also means actions not permits in the cause of war profiteering.
Let us plan to let Lake County Commissioners and planners know that a quasi-legal, back door draft apparatus will not take place in our backyard with a wink and a nod toward money for death.
Geoffrey Stetson is Co-Chair of Central Florida Veterans for Peace.
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