Thursday, January 10, 2013



McChrystal Working for UAE-Owned Arms Brokerage
Dec. 13, 2012 - 11:23AM |

From an office park a few miles south of Washington's Reagan
National Airport, a little-known company named Knowledge
International LLC does $500 million a year in business.

The firm is among the defense procurement companies owned by the
Emirates Advanced Investments group, which is close to the ruling
family of the United Arab Emirates. But unlike the other companies in
the network, such as Abu Dhabi-based C4 Advanced Solutions, Knowledge
International is incorporated in the United States.

Fully licensed as an arms dealer and broker, the company sends
American trainers and arms to the UAE, arranging the necessary
licenses and agreements with the State Department and the Defense

The company's strategic advisory board consists of some of the past
decade's brightest names in American land warfare: retired Army Gen.
Bryan "Doug" Brown, who headed up the U.S. Special Operations
Command; retired Gen. James Conway, former commandant of the Marine
Corps and a charismatic figure during the 2003 Iraq invasion; and
retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who commanded the International
Security Assistance Force, NATO's Afghanistan command.

A former Special Forces general with a storied career, McChrystal was
the architect of President Obama's Afghanistan war strategy in 2009.
But his career ended in 2010 after the publication of "Runaway
General," a Rolling Stone profile that quoted his staff making
disparaging remarks about Obama administration officials.

The controversy made him a household name, forced him to resign and
sparked a debate over Afghanistan counterinsurgency doctrine. It did
not prevent him from following a well-worn path from four-star rank
to corporate boardrooms.

The newly retired general founded McChrystal Group, a consultancy,
and was appointed chairman of the board of Siemens Government
Systems, a German-owned firm, as well as to seats on the board of
JetBlue and Navistar.

Unlike these firms, Knowledge International is obscure and a non-
public company. Its parent company, EAI, is very close to the
government of the UAE and handles major weapon purchases for the UAE

Reached for comment, McChrystal's office referred calls to Daniel
Monahan, the managing director of Knowledge International.

In an emailed statement, Monahan wrote, "Gen. McChrystal is a great
American and has brought a consistent commitment to excellence to KI.
I value his advice and ability to see simple solutions to somewhat
complicated scenarios. I've benefitted greatly over the past year by
his advice and counsel."

McChrystal's long-awaited biography, "My Share of the Task," is due
out Jan. 7.

Corporate records show that Knowledge International was registered in
Delaware in 2010 by Hussein Ibrahim Al Hammadi, the U.S.-educated CEO
of EAI. Hammadi, according to one of the U.S. diplomatic cables
obtained by WikiLeaks, "is a retired Colonel with the UAE Special
Operations Command and has close ties to the Abu Dhabi Al Nahayan
royal family."

An email and a phone call to EAI were not returned.

Knowledge International's first mission has been to help reorganize
UAE's land forces along U.S. lines.

"We're focused on doing a transformation — an overall transformation
— of their armed forces. There are a number of companies over there
doing that, but we are the first U.S. company that is Emirati-owned,"
Monahan said in an interview.

A former Air Force pilot, Monahan served as senior military adviser
to the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian
affairs, according to his company biography. Before that he was the
deputy director of operations at the White House Military Office.

Monahan said that, so far, Knowledge International has had a limited
role in UAE's efforts to develop advanced technology.

"We don't have anything ongoing with cyber yet," he said.

Monahan said the firm tried to broker one deal for fiber-optic
hardware for its sister company in the UAE, C4 Advanced Systems, but
the transaction fell through.

As for the role of the strategic advisory board, Monahan said
McChrystal, Brown and Conway meet every quarter and have taken one
trip together to the UAE.

Efforts to reach Brown and Conway were unsuccessful.

Flush with oil cash, and situated across the Persian Gulf from Iran,
the UAE has been on an arms-buying spree, and it relies heavily on
international manpower — including European and U.S. companies — for
training and servicing.

Some of the training endeavors have brought scandal. In 2011, the New
York Times reported on the nation's $529 million effort, with the
involvement of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, to train a battalion
of Colombian mercenaries based in the UAE.

The UAE is now the ninth-largest arms importer in the world,
according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute,
and it's a major client for U.S. defense contractors. One recent high-
level government-to-government deal with the U.S. was the $3.5
billion agreement to buy Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile

The UAE is a U.S. ally; it is not free from controversy. When Dubai
Ports World, which was owned by the UAE, sought to take control of
six major U.S. ports in 2006, the deal generated an extraordinary
political firestorm of opposition. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., called
the development "deeply troubling," and Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio,
said he had "deep concerns."

This story will appear in the January issue of C4ISR Journal.

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