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    Triple Canopy: A Deep Dive

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    1.0 Introduction

    Triple Canopy is a private military company (PMC) that provides security, training, and mission support services to various clients around the world. The company was founded in 2003 and has gained a reputation for its involvement in high-risk security operations in challenging environments.

    2.0 Motto, Symbols, Patches and History

    Triple Canopy was established in Chicago, Illinois, by U.S. Army Special Forces veterans Nicholas Farah, Matthew Mann, and Thomas Katis. The founders aimed to create a PMC that could deliver comprehensive security solutions in conflict zones and areas of high risk.

    In 2010, Triple Canopy was acquired by the security and risk management firm Constellis Group. This merger allowed Triple Canopy to expand its capabilities and resources while operating under a larger corporate umbrella.

    Logo of Triple Canopy

    Logo of Constellis

    2.1 Motto

    The origins of Triple Canopy motto “Secure Success” can likely be traced back to the company’s founding and its mission in the private security industry. The motto “Secure Success” reflects Triple Canopy’s commitment to ensuring the safety and success of their clients’ operations.

    A second (and older) motto once aligned with Triple Canopy had been “Assess, Avert, Achieve.” This mantra implies that Triple Canopy achieved their objectives while adhering to ethical and best practices established in the worldwide security business.

    2.2 Symbols

    While Triple Canopy may not have its own distinct symbol within Constellis Group, it operates under the broader corporate brand and aligns its visual identity with the Constellis logo.

    The Constellis logo consists of a stylized representation of a star cluster or constellation. The logo typically features several interconnected stars forming a cohesive shape. The design aims to convey a sense of unity, strength, and reliability.

    2.3 Patches

    As mentioned prior, since Triple Canopy was purchased by Constellis in 2010, its logo has since been integrated with the company.

    Triple Canopy “Secure Success” patch. These can be found and purchased on commercial websites such as eBay. 

    Soldiers from Company A, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, escort Triple Canopy guards to the firing line, Sept. 5, 2011. Triple Canopy soldiers can be seen wearing their company patches on their arms. Image provided by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.

    3.0 Organisation

    3.1 Place within US military institutions

    Private security contractors such as Triple Canopy offer an effective and cost-efficient supplement to the US government’s internal security capacity so that it may better achieve its objectives in missions such as Iraq and Qatar. For the Department of Defense, a frequent partner with Triple Canopy, private security contractors allow soldiers to be taken off certain security duties and placed into the field to perform other important mission requirements. Ignacio Balderas, CEO of Triple Canopy, made the following statement in regard to the greater role of the company, “What we cannot do, and should not do, is replace the function of an armed military.” [source]

    3.2 Financing

    Triple Canopy has received over 350 contracts from the federal government, worth more than $4 billion. The company currently has contracts with the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon. [source]

    3.3 Business Structure

    Triple Canopy is a subsidiary of Constellis, which is a leading provider of risk management and security services. Constellis, in turn, is owned by a group of investors led by Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm. Apollo acquired Constellis Holdings, including Triple Canopy, in 2016.

    Within the grand scheme of Constellis, Triple Canopy operates as a distinct business unit or subsidiary. It maintains its own business structure, including its own leadership, operational teams, and client base. While being part of the larger Constellis organisation, Triple Canopy retains autonomy in offering specialised security services to clients. This structure allows Constellis to leverage Triple Canopy’s expertise while benefiting from the overall coordination and resources provided by the Constellis corporate entity.

    3.4 Key Figures

    Former officers of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Delta Force), business analysts, asset management professionals, and consultants make up the core of Triple Canopy…

    Ignacio “Iggy” Balderas: As the CEO and member of the board of directors, Balderas is responsible for managing its strategic direction, organisation, and management of the company. He has over two decades of experience in Special Forces Units, specifically Delta Force, and participated in multiple combat operations over his 20 years of service. [source]

    Tom Katis: As the founder and co-chairman of Triple Canopy and Constellis, Katis played a forward role in the American PMC industry. In 2007, he also founded Voxer, a digital communication app made with cutting-edge military technology. Prior to this, Katis was a US Army Special Forces Communications Sergeant and was deployed to Afghanistan from 2002-2003. [source]

    Greg “Mo” Mulligan:  As President of Triple Canopy, Greg “Mo” Mulligan, was in charge of overseeing the company’s international operations and growth. When he was the Chief Operating Officer, Mulligan oversaw the business development, operations, and finances of Triple Canopy. Mulligan operated in the Delta Force as a Troop Sergeant Major, Unit Operations Sergeant Major and Selection and Training Sergeant Major in his 24 years of US Army service. [source]

    3.5 Recruitment

    Online Applications: As part of Constellis, interested candidates can submit their applications and resumes on the main website. Applications usually include personal details, qualifications, relevant experience, and any specific skills or certifications desired by the company.

    Job Boards and Recruitment Websites: Triple Canopy advertises job openings on various job boards and recruitment websites. They typically target those with military backgrounds, law enforcement experience, or specialised skill sets relevant to their operational needs.

    Networking and Referrals: Triple Canopy relies on networking and employee referrals to identify potential candidates. Current employees, industry contacts, and trusted individuals within the company’s network may recommend qualified individuals for consideration.

    Military Transition Programs: Triple Canopy engages with military transition programs and career fairs to connect with individuals who are transitioning out of military service and seeking civilian employment in the security sector.

    Direct Recruitment: In some cases, Triple Canopy directly approaches individuals with specific skill sets or expertise through targeted recruitment efforts. This approach is often used to recruit specialists, subject matter experts, or individuals with unique qualifications.

    Amanda Lupton, a recruiter for Constellis, shares company information with attendees on Fort Buchanan. Image courtesy of the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.

    Requirements

    Military or Law Enforcement Experience: Triple Canopy often seeks candidates with prior military experience, particularly in combat arms or special operations roles. Law enforcement experience can also be relevant, especially for roles that require knowledge of security procedures and protocols.

    Skills and Specialisations: Depending on the specific job role, Triple Canopy may require candidates to possess specialised skills or certifications. This can include expertise in areas such as close protection, tactical operations, intelligence analysis, marksmanship, foreign language proficiency, or technical skills.

    Physical Fitness and Health: Candidates must meet certain physical fitness standards as individuals must be physically capable of handling demanding tasks in challenging environments. A medical assessment may be conducted to ensure candidates are in good health and able to perform the job duties.

    Security Clearance: Some positions within Triple Canopy may require candidates to hold or be eligible for security clearances, depending on the nature of the contracts and clients involved. Clearances are typically granted after a thorough background investigation.

    Possible Foreign Recruitment 

    As a United States-based company, certain job opportunities with Triple Canopy require US citizenship. That being said, there are a number of openings, such as guarding positions, that are available for foreign applicants. Background checks are conducted to ensure candidates have a clean record.

    3.6 Connections to other important organisations

    In addition to Triple Canopy, several other private military and security companies were acquired by Constellis. 

    • Academi (formerly known as Blackwater) is a private military company that provides security services, training, and logistics support.
    •  Omniplex World Services provides investigative and background screening services, including security clearance background investigations, to support private and government clients. 
    • Canterra Group offers security, fire and emergency services, and risk management solutions for commercial and government clients. 
    • Strategic Social is a provider of social intelligence services, such as threat assessment and monitoring, for clients. 

    Constellis acquired Triple Canopy and its competitors to strategically expand its capabilities, diversify services, and consolidate its position in the market. By integrating companies with specialised expertise, regional knowledge, and established client relationships, Constellis offers comprehensive security solutions and has a competitive advantage in the industry.

    3.7 Controversies

    In 2011, Triple Canopy was involved in a significant lawsuit related to its contract with the United States government. The lawsuit, known as the United States ex rel. Badr v. Triple Canopy alleged that Triple Canopy had submitted false claims for payment under its security contract to protect the Al Asad Airbase in Iraq.

    The lawsuit was brought under the False Claims Act. In this case, the whistleblower, a former Triple Canopy employee named Omar Badr, claimed that Triple Canopy had failed to fulfil the contract requirements by employing guards who did not meet the necessary firearms proficiency standards.

    In 2015, a federal jury found Triple Canopy liable for the false claims and awarded a judgement of $28 million. The judgement was later overturned in 2017 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which concluded that the government had not sufficiently proven the falsity of the claims. As a result, the case was sent back to the district court for further proceedings. [source]

    In 2022, a federal lawsuit against the company was filed by 22 former employees hired as guards at the Forward Operating Base Shorab, a US base in Afghanistan. These workers, all from Uganda, claimed their passports were confiscated to prevent them from leaving the country or finding work elsewhere. Additionally, the 22 workers claimed to have been wrongly fired after accusing the company of withholding their $500 monthly paychecks. They told reporters that they faced “fear, intimidation and insecurity” while working for Triple Canopy. [source]

    4.0 Equipment

    4.1 Weapons

    Small Arms:

    • Colt M4
    • Glock 19 Pistol

    Light and Medium Machine Guns: 

    • M249 SAW
    • FN Minimi
    • M240
    • FN MAG
    • MK18
    • MK12

    Sniper Rifles: 

    • M24
    • Remington 700
    • SR-25

    Shotguns: 

    • Remington 870 
    • Mossberg 500

    Non-Lethal Weapons: 

    • Batons
    • Pepper spray
    • Tasers
    • Rubber bullet guns

    Specialized Equipment:

    • Colt M203 
    • Night vision devices
    • Body armour

    [source]

    Triple Canopy guards fire the M240B machine gun during the live-fire training. Image provided by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.

    4.2 Vehicles

    Depending on the contract requirements, Triple Canopy may have access to certain kinds of vehicles and aircraft. These include:

    Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs): 

    • BAE Caiman
    • MRAPs (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected)
    • M1117 Guardian.

    Utility, Tactical, and Light Strike Vehicles: 

    • Modified pickup trucks or SUVs
    • Humvees (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles) 
    • Polaris MRZR or similar all-terrain vehicles

    Helicopters and Aircraft: 

    • Bell UH-1 
    • Cessna Caravan

    Contract security officer in Baghdad, Iraq.

    4.3 Optics

    Riflescopes: Riflescopes for accurate target acquisition and engagement. Popular brands used by many PMC groups include Leupold, Trijicon, Nightforce, Schmidt & Bender, and Vortex Optics.

    Red Dot Sights: These sights offer quick target acquisition and are commonly used for close-quarters combat situations. Aimpoint, EOTech, and Trijicon are well-known manufacturers of red dot sights.

    Night Vision Devices: PMCs use various night vision optics, including image intensifier goggles, thermal scopes, or thermal monoculars. Companies such as FLIR Systems, Pulsar, and ATN produce night vision devices commonly used by military and security personnel.

    Binoculars: High-quality binoculars with advanced optics are essential for reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence gathering. Brands like Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica, and Nikon offer premium binoculars suitable for such purposes.

    Magnifiers: Some PMCs use magnifiers in conjunction with red dot sights or holographic sights to enhance target identification and engagement at longer distances. EOTech and Aimpoint produce popular magnifiers for this purpose.

    4.4 Armour and Kit

    Body Armour: PMCs typically utilise modern body armour systems that provide protection against ballistic threats. These may include plate carriers or tactical vests equipped with ceramic or composite plates, which can withstand various levels of bullet impact.

    Helmets: PMC personnel often wear ballistic helmets to protect their heads from projectiles, shrapnel, or other threats. These helmets may feature accessories such as night vision mounts, communication systems, and modular rails for attaching additional equipment.

    Tactical Clothing: PMCs typically wear specialised clothing designed for tactical operations. This may include combat uniforms, pants, jackets, and boots made from durable and moisture-wicking materials. The clothing may also incorporate features like multiple pockets, reinforced knees and elbows, and adjustable closures.

    Communication Equipment: PMCs rely on advanced communication systems to maintain connectivity and coordination during missions. This can include encrypted radios, headsets, and other communication devices to facilitate clear and secure communication between team members.

    Load-Bearing Equipment: Contractors often use load-bearing equipment such as chest rigs, battle belts, or MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) systems to carry their gear and essentials. These systems allow for customization and attachment of pouches, holsters, and other accessories as needed.

    Personal Equipment: PMC personnel may carry a variety of personal equipment, including multi-tool kits, medical kits, navigation devices, hydration systems, and survival gear. These items are tailored to the specific needs of the mission and the environment in which the contractors operate.

    5.0 Tactical-Operational Information

    5.1 Operations

    Protective Security Services: Triple Canopy has provided protective security services to clients in high-risk environments, including government agencies, multinational corporations, and non-governmental organisations. This may involve protecting personnel, facilities, and assets.

    Site Security and Access Control: They have been involved in establishing and managing security protocols, access control systems, and physical security measures for clients operating in challenging or sensitive locations.

    Security Consulting and Risk Assessments: Triple Canopy offers security consulting services, conducting risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and develop strategies to mitigate potential threats.

    Training and Capacity Building: They have provided training programs to enhance the capabilities of security personnel, both for their own staff and for clients’ security teams. This includes the follow firearms training, defensive driving, first aid, and emergency response training:

    • Firearms and tactics: Handgun, DCJS, shotgun, carbine, precision rifle, armourer, street officer survival, active threat response, SWAT, sniper, law enforcement
    • Individual protection: executive protection, personal security detail, high-risk security operations, individual protection specialist
    • Driving: Advanced highway safety, high centre gravity,motorcade operations, manual transmission, vehicle commandeering, counterterrorism, law enforcement driving course, off-road & unimproved road, field expedient repairs, checkpoint & convoy operations, checkpoint & motorcade operations, driving during darkness with night vision devices
    • Medical: tactical combat casualty care, tactical emergency casualty care, prehospital trauma life support. K9 casualty care
    • Pre-Deployment: three-day PDTC, three-day CBRN, four-day CBRN/PDTC, five-day PDTC, vehicle extrication

    Crisis Management and Emergency Response: Triple Canopy has expertise in crisis management, including emergency response planning, evacuation procedures, and on-the-ground crisis response to incidents or threats.

    Men taking part in handgun training in the U.S. Training Center in Moyock, North Carolina. Triple Canopy offers training in this facility.

    From its main bases in the United States, Triple Canopy organises a number of training initiatives from its wide array of training facilities. According to Constellis, Triple Canopy offers training courses in the following areas: 

    • Security: physical protective services, executive protection, corporate risk management, high-consequence protection, nuclear security protection and critical infrastructure, risk crisis and resilience services, command centre operations, event security, reception and concierge services
    • Investigations: records checks and pre-screening services, investigations administrative support
    • Disaster and emergency services: Covid-19 response, fire and emergency services, emergency and disaster response
    • K9 services: Cargo screening K9-3PK9, event and venue security, explosive detection dog [EDD], narcotic detection dog [NDD], special purpose K9, K9 training facilities, canine welfare, K9 adoptions
    • Mine action: explosive threat mitigation, weapons and ammunition management, training and mentoring, K9 mine action

    5.2 Core Purpose

    The core purpose of Triple Canopy in their missions is to provide overseas operations support and program management services in high-threat environments. Triple Canopy currently operates in 40 countries, specifically Iraq and Qatar. Their purpose in these countries is as followed:

    Iraq:

    Post-Conflict Stabilisation: Following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and subsequent conflicts, Triple Canopy is engaged in post-conflict stabilisation efforts. This involved providing security services and support to assist in rebuilding infrastructure, protecting key assets, and promoting stability.

    Counterinsurgency Operations: During the height of the insurgency in Iraq, Triple Canopy was involved in supporting counterinsurgency efforts. 

    Protection of Personnel and Facilities: Triple Canopy is engaged in protecting personnel and facilities in Iraq, including embassies, diplomatic missions, military bases, and corporate installations. This involves implementing security measures, risk assessments, and providing armed security personnel. [source]

    Qatar:

    Critical Infrastructure Protection: In Qatar, Triple Canopy is involved in protecting critical infrastructure, such as energy installations, transportation networks, and strategic assets. This includes providing security services to safeguard these facilities from threats such as terrorism, sabotage, or unauthorised access.

    Event Security: Qatar has hosted major international events, such as the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Triple Canopy likely engaged in security services, including access control, crowd management, and threat mitigation during such events.

    High-Value Asset Protection: Triple Canopy is likely responsible for protecting high-value assets, including diplomatic properties, corporate headquarters, and other sensitive locations. This involves implementing security protocols, and surveillance, and ensuring the physical security of these assets. Triple Canopy is heavily involved in protecting military bases in the region.

    5.3 Personnel size

    As of 2016, Triple Canopy has well over 8,000 personnel under Constellis Holdings. This number is likely higher. [source]

    6.0 The Future of Triple Canopy

    The growing recognition and utilisation of Triple Canopy align with an assumption that PMC groups are rebounding in usage and popularity. Their ability to provide integrated security solutions and adapt to evolving global security challenges is highly valued. This likely contributes to their relevance and appeal to clients. 

    Tensions between the US and Russia/China continue to rise. Thus, it is probable that Triple Canopy will see a rise in recruitment and funding to continue operating. 

    Triple Canopy has had its own number of controversies in the last two decades, thus, the US government is likely keeping a watchful eye on the company and its leadership.

    7.0 Conclusion

    Triple Canopy is a highly valuable asset to the US private security industry. Since its founding, the company has been an instrumental ally in security services in high-risk conflict zones, namely in the Middle East. The capabilities of the company cannot be understated. Triple Canopy service members are highly capable security contractors.

    Julia Day
    Julia Day
    Julia is an intelligence analyst pursuing a BA in International Affairs and Italian Studies at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. Her main areas of interest include security in the Mediterranean Sea, European affairs and naval studies.

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