American corporation USDS involved in foreign and domestic espionage
Armor Holdings, Inc. was founded in 1969 as American Body Armor & Equipment, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida. At that time, American was an industry leader in the development, manufacture and distribution of projectile resistant garments. Its manufacturing facility was in New York. Its main customer was law enforcement. American started as a small, mom-and-pop operation.
In 1995, the company filed for Chapter 11, Bankruptcy and Reorganization. A group of international investors became interested in taking over the company so it was placed in the hands of British national, Jonathan Spiller. Mr. Spiller is or was a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Upon reorganizing, the company was renamed Armor Holdings.
At the time of reorganization, the chain of command for Armor Holdings was as follows:
Warren B. Kanders: Former senior vice president of Orion Bank Ltd., a merchant bank owned by the Royal Bank of Canada.
Burtt R. Ehrlich: Director of Armor Holdings. His family securities firm, Ehrlich and Boger, is owned by Cater and Allen Bank, a British offshore company with most of its operations on the Channel and Jersey Islands. Mr. Ehrlich was also a former treasurer and trustee of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs.
Nicholas Sokolow: Former partner in the Wall Street law firm Coudert Brothers. As of 1995, he was a senior partner in the Paris-based law firm of Sokolow, Dunaud, Mercandier, and Carreras.
Thomas W. Strauss: Director of Armor Holdings. He was formerly the vice chairman of Salomon Brothers until he was forced to resign over a 1992 insider trading scandal involving alleged manipulation of sales of U.S. government securities.
Richard C. Barlett: Director of Armor Holdings. He is or was the chairman of the Richmond Group, a Dallas, Texas-based multinational holding company. He is or was a member of the elite Davos World Economic Forum, the Rothschild-owned Economists Group's Cross Border Monitor. He is or was the chairman and trustee of the Nature Conservancy of Texas, the Texas chapter of the Nature Conservancy founded by the British Privy Council in 1946.
Armor Holdings incorporated in 1996. During this very same year, the company initiated an aggressive acquisition campaign to expand its global presence in privatized security and investigations.
In 2001, the company made more adjustments and eliminated its "US-based" investigative offices. 26 positions were eliminated in all.
The Services Division abandoned US-based investigative operations because it was considered a high-margin business unit and outsourcing investigations was more economical. This did not eliminate foreign-based investigative business units. With this strategy, lower margin business units like security could now be concentrated upon and receive greater financial backing.
Presently, Armor Holdings is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida and capitalizes on high growth security products and services consolidated under one roof. The estimated number of employees it has worldwide is about 11,829. The corporate website can be found at:
The current chain of command for Armor Holdings is chairman, Warren B. Kanders, age 43, director, president and CEO, Jonathan Spiller, age 49, annual salary $366K, and Robert Schiller, CFO, executive V.P., secretary and treasurer, age 38, annual salary $384K.
The company trades on the NYSE and its stock symbol is "AH."
Armor Holdings has a global presence. Its client base includes
multi-national corporations, non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies, military, law enforcement, security, corrections, natural resource industry, financial industry, insurance industry, investment banks, legal profession, consumer products industry, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, United Nations, USAID, World Bank, and Britain's Department for International Development.
Armor's growth strategy consists of expanding products and services, expanding distribution networks, and expanding product sales and services through aggressive corporate acquisition. Its mission is to protect assets, investments and interests of clientele throughout the world in unstable and hostile business environments using a wide variety of security solutions. The majority of personnel and consultants used by this company are former military, law enforcement, and intelligence.
Here is Armor's acquisition history:
1996: Defense Technology Corporation of America, Casper, WY. Develops non-lethal munitions and anti-riot products.
1996: Defense Systems, Ltd. Conducts security planning and training, crisis management, high-valued cargo protection, security guard services, and mine clearing and ordinance disposal.
1997: Supercraft, Ltd., England. Develops military apparel, high visibility garments, and bulletproof vests.
1997: Gorandel Trading, Ltd., Moscow & Almaty. Provides security services.
1998: Asmara, Ltd. Conducts due-diligence, intelligence, skip-tracing and litigation support.
1998: Protech Armored Products. Develops hard armor ballistic shields, helmets, and vehicles.
1998: Federal Laboratories, Casper, WY. Develops tear gas and anti- riot products.
1998: CDR International. Performs counterfeit product investigation, corporate risk management, and government training services.
1998: Low Voltage Systems. Designs and installs electronic security systems.
1999: Safariland. Police equipment and supplies.
1999: Parvus Company, Washington D.C. Consulting firm specializing in specialized investigations, corporate intelligence, and security.
1999: Alarm Systems Holding Company, Lyndhurst, NJ and Fire Alarm Service Corporation, Tampa, FL. Design and install electronic security systems, fire alarms, and video surveillance.
2000: Break-Free, Inc., Jacksonville, FL. Develops specialty lubricants and cleaners for military weapon maintenance systems.
2000: New Technologies, Inc. Performs computer forensic and evidence training, and develops software for data/network security.
2000: Special Clearance Services, sub-Saharan Africa and London, England. Land mine risk reduction and clearance service.
2000: Network Audit Systems, Inc., Syracuse, NY and Sydex, Inc. Consultants in computer data/network security technology, computer forensics and risk identification, SafeBack software technology, network assessment and scanning tools, and assessing corporate risk tolerance levels.
2000: OVG International, Ltd. and Traquair, Ltd. Private investigative services with offices in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, and Tokyo. These investigative outposts specialize in "strategic acquisition" to assist Armor in gaining an economic operational foothold in Asia Pacific.
2000: Lightning Powder. Develops evidence collection equipment and forensic supplies.
2000: Monadnock Lifetime Products. Develops non-lethal police weapons and offers a certification coarse in defensive tactics and apprehension techniques.
2001: Guardian Products, Casper, WY. Develops chemical agents for defensive purposes.
2001: O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt Armoring Company, Fairfield, OH. Caters mainly to presidents, heads of state, military, and corporate leaders. Its biggest customer is the U.S. Military by providing it with the armor plated "HMMWV." For the private sector, this company produces custom armored cars, limos, and buses. This company possesses the world's largest commercial ballistics databases.
2001: Identicator, Inc. Develops fingerprint ID and positive ID verification products.
Armor Holdings has three divisions.
Stephen Croskrey is president and CEO of the Product Division. At 41 years of age, his annual salary is $229K.
Products are manufactured in the US, UK, and Mexico. The product line includes body armor, vehicle armor, non-lethal weapons, duty gear and military garments, forensic collection equipment and supplies, prisoner restraints, and anti-riot gear (tear gas, percussion grenades, etc.) Located within this division is the Training Academy of Technology and Tactics to educate its clientele on the proper use of the previously identified products. The company has over 500 distributors and sales operatives worldwide.
The Services Division, better known as ArmorGroup, falls under the direction of president and CEO Stephen Loffler, age 47, who has an annual salary of $251K.
ArmorGroup is headquartered in London, England. Satellite offices can be found in 38 countries with a staff of over 5,500. Regional offices are located in Washington-DC, Vienna-VA, West Point-VA, Tampa-FL, Colombia-South America, Benoni-South Africa, Johannesburg-South Africa, Moscow-Russia, Bangkok-Thailand, and Hong Kong-China.
ArmorGroup operational venues include Tampa-FL, Charlotte-NC, NYC, Gresham-OR, San Antonio-TX, Caracas-Venezuela, Quito-Ecuador, Sao Paulo-Brazil, Lima-Peru, Sarajevo-Bosnia, Nicosia-Cyprus, Tel Aviv- Israel, Dusseldorf-Germany, Kinshasa-DR Congo, Kampala-Uganda, Nairobi-Kenya, Maputo-Mozambique, Lagos-Nigeria, Dar Es Salaam- Tanzania, Bahrain, Krasnodar-Russia, Sakhalin-Russia, Kiev-Ukraine,
St. Petersburg-Russia, Almaty-Kazakhstan, Alyrau-Kazakhstan, Harare-Zimbabwe, Hong Kong-China, Shanghai-China, and Tokyo-Japan.
So what does ArmorGroup offer prospective customers? This division provides a one-stop-shopping solution for global security risk management, business information, intelligence, electronic security-surveillance, technology risk management, crisis management, and humanitarian support.
Oil, gas and mineral corporations, government and non-government organizations, US State Department (overseas embassies and military installations), UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, United Nations, the European Commission and World Bank, all turn to ArmorGroup for assistance when their financial and political interests are jeopardized by hostile forces on foreign soil.
The last division for Armor Holdings is Mobile Security. This division exclusively equips military vehicles, commercial vehicles, military aircraft and missile components with hard armor. Headquartered in Miami-FL, and with a sales office in Dully/Geneva-Switzerland, manufacturing plants for this division can be found in Fairfield-OH, Mexico City-Mexico, Bogota-Colombia, Rio De Janeiro-Brazil, Sao Paulo-Brazil, Torino-Italy, Lamballe-France, and Venezuela.
One subsidiary of Armor Holdings, which is part of ArmorGroup's Services Division, is called United States Defense Systems, Inc. or USDS. This company is non-existent on the Internet so don't waste your time trying to find it.
This shadowy front organization's Articles of Incorporation has it based out of Chantilly, Virginia, but it's true physical address is located in Manassas, Virginia. All foreign operatives are recruited out of this office.
The fundamental mission objective of USDS is to serve as the "eyes and ears" of the American Government. Here's how it works. USDS places an ad for "investigator" in one of the many state and federal law enforcement trade organization newspapers, magazines, and websites. The ad usually starts off like this: "USDS, Inc. is seeking personnel who have investigative and/or surveillance backgrounds to work in support of a Department of Defense program." The ad specifically targets those with former military experience or those with a criminal intelligence background, you know, gang intel, organized crime, narco, etc. The ad specifies this as an "independent contract" position requiring successful completion of a US Department of Defense security clearance and FBI background screening since classified government information is involved. The only contact information given for this organization is a Chantilly Post Office box number and fax number.
Once recruitment is completed, the candidate is shipped off to a special DOD military school on the East Coast for an intense 14-week training coarse in the Art of Surveillance. Although we haven't yet confirmed this, it's believed the school may be the School of Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. All candidates hold civilian classification and are in no way connected with a military status or classification. These are just ordinary American citizens attending a government sponsored spy school.
Once training has been successfully completed the operative is deployed overseas with DOD orders in hand. His or her assignment is either at an American embassy or military installation located within a hostile territory.
Since the operative is a civilian, he or she is not allowed to work within the confines of the base or embassy. Instead, the operative is sent out into the community to spy on the locals. Operatives are equipped with sophisticated photographic/video equipment, communications, GPS, transportation, and in some cases, a weapon. The operative's objective is to intercept a hostile threat before it occurs through covert observation and documentation.
Once a hostile threat has been identified, the operative submits his or her findings to the base commander who in turn uses it to assess the threat level so an informed decision can be made on how to neutralize or eliminate the threat.
The advantage of using civilians or "independents" in such a manner is so the American government can deny all knowledge of espionage if the operation is discovered and avoid an international incident.
Each operative is deployed overseas six times per year. Each assignment lasts six weeks. The operative works in a team of nine people.
Aside from overseas assignment, USDS operatives perform domestic assignments. An example of this was on the Fourth of July where operatives circulated the Capitol Mall in D.C. photographing American citizens appearing suspicious or fitting a particular profile.
USDS holds DOD contractor's status, meaning, the military pays for USDS's services through taxpayer money. It's a highly desired contract in the security industry that USDS seems to monopolize.
More information on USDS and their clandestined activities will be revealed in a follow-up article, which will include the actual transcribed interview of one of their recruits.
Currently, the President and CEO of USDS is Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Robert C.G. Disney. General Disney's background includes Special Forces-Green Beret and Chairman of the American Society For Industrial Security (ASIS) Council on Global Terrorism, Political Instability, and International Crime.
General Disney is an Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient.
The secretary and treasurer of USDS is Stephen E. Croskrey who just happens to be the current president and CEO of Armor Holdings' Product Division.
The official Wall Street description for USDS is a private company that provides security-contracting services for U.S. embassies, diplomats, and staff. This company's coverage area is Africa, Middle East, and Asia Pacific.
Investigative reporters like Pratap Chatterjee of Berkeley's Project Underground aren't big fans of security privatization. In fact, security privatization is viewed as a threat to individual rights and freedoms. Companies such as USDS fall within this category of privatization.
Here's some additional background information on USDS as reported by Reporter Chatterjee and others like him.
Alan Golancinski served as president of USDS between 1997-1998. He provided private security for U.S. embassies in Africa. Prior to that, from 1967-1987, he worked for the U.S. State Department and eventually became White House Security Advisor.
Between 1987-1997, Mr. Golancinski worked for Defense Systems, Ltd. (DSL), a London based company that specialized in providing risk management strategies and solutions to big business, and government and non-government agencies situated in hostile regions around the world. His bosses at DSL were Richard Betbell and Sir Aistair Morrison, both former members of the elite Special Air Service (SAS). Also during this period of employment at DSL, Mr. Golancinski worked with Michael Golovatov. Mr. Golovatov served in the KGB's Alpha Commando Unit or ICGB between 1967-1987. As the Cold War ended, he became director of the Moscow based Alpha-A, a private security force that provided protection to interstate commerce.
In 1997, as Armor Holdings acquired DSL, with this acquisition, Armor had now broadened its security and intelligence services, which included big contracts with petrochemical conglomerates and mining companies like DeBeers. With such expansion, Armor Holdings earned the distinction of being a one-stop-shopping marketplace for multi-nationals by providing them with a full array of security products and services including an intelligence gathering apparatus, a surveillance and counter-surveillance apparatus, and tactical support and training for local authorities or the military in places where low-intensity conflicts jeopardized corporate and national interests. Mr. Golancinski told a Jacksonville, Florida reporter that the key to DSL's success with mutli-nationals in Third World countries like Africa was "understanding the nature of the beast."
As of October 2001, the USDS director was Thomas Boyatt. He was, or is the president of Boyatt Wood Enterprises. He started Foreign Service for the U.S. State Department in 1959 and eventually became an ambassador.
Finally, a lot of the information presented in this article is available for public viewing in much greater detail on Armor Holding's website, which was previously given.
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