Company supplying former special ops forces for ‘election security’ is linked to a religious mission
The company, Atlas Aegis, works closely with another Tennessee company that provides military-like training to faith-based groups
The Tennessee-based private security company that plans to send armed guards with special operations training to Minnesota to protect election sites from “looting and destruction” by a leftist boogeyman dubbed “Antifa” also appears to be closely associated with conservative religious groups.
The company, Atlas Aegis, is a partner and works closely with another Tennessee private security company, AGAPE Tactical — which specializes in providing protection services and military-style training to religious organizations.
The Washington Post and Minneapolis Star Tribune reported recently that Franklin, Tennessee-based Atlas Aegis posted job listings on a special ops recruiting site as well as its Facebook page seeking “armed security” personnel with special ops training to staff “security positions in Minnesota during the November election and beyond to protect election polls, local businesses and residences from looting and destruction.”
The recruits, according to the job ad, would be paid $910 per day for up to 30 days of work during and after the upcoming presidential election. Minnesota saw major protests this past spring in the wake of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May — protests that have since spread across the country.
Kenneth Alexandrow, founder and owner of Franklin, Tennessee-based AGAPE Tactical, a firm specializing in providing security and firearms training for faith-based groups, such as churches and religious groups, in an interview said his company serves as “the training arm” for Atlas Aegis.
“They have contracts and we just work to fill whatever need they have,” Alexandrow said, referring to Atlas Aegis. “I don’t know anything of what they’ve got going on in Minnesota. I don’t know who they’re working with.
“They send their people to us,” Alexandrow adds. “We train their people and prepare them for a mission and then they go out.”
Alexandrow stresses that the majority of the work his company does is for “faith-based organizations.” In fact, Alexandrow pointed out during a phone interview that he was “at a Christian college now.”
He adds that the company employs about 20 instructors who all have special ops backgrounds.
“We will train anybody for any mission,” Alexandrow adds. “We’re working with organizations and helping them with training their teams … their volunteer safety teams, or doing a security-vulnerability assessment for their property. We focus on faith-based organizations.”
A 2017 article in the Tennessean says Alexandrow retired from the Metro Nashville Police Department and launched AGAPE Tactical in 2013 “with the intent of keeping churches safe.”
Anthony Caudle, chairman and co-founder of Atlas Aegis, did not return calls seeking comment for this story. His company, however, is not licensed to operate in Minnesota, nor have they applied for a security-firm license to date, according to Greg Cook, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services, which oversees industry licensing.
“[As a company] in the state of Minnesota, you cannot perform contracted security services unless you have a security license or you are an employee of a security company that is licensed,” Cook says.
Caudle told the Washington Post that his firm was hired by a “consortium of business owners and concerned citizens” who are working through a prime contractor that is licensed in Minnesota. He adds that Atlas Aegis’ responsibility is to staff the security guard positions — which will be trained for the specific mission by AGAPE Tactical, according to Alexandrow.
Cook concedes that it is a grey area of the law as to whether Atlas Aegis could serve as a “headhunter” for a security company that is licensed in Minnesota, but that appears to be what Atlas Aegis is doing in this case. Cook stresses that Atlas Aegis could not employ the special ops personnel directly, but rather they would have to become payroll employees of the licensed prime contractor.
There are hundreds of companies licensed to provide security services in the state, and Caudle so far has declined to identify which one his firm is working with. He did not reply to several requests for comment for this story.
Two major security companies operating in Minnesota are Triple Canopy and Centerra Group, both under the umbrella of a parent company called Constellis. Those firms currently provide private security guards to the Department of Homeland Security, which employs some 15,000 private contractors through its Federal Protection Services (FPS) unit. FPS is charged with providing security for thousands of federal properties across the country. [See series on FPS private contractors at this link.]
Officials from Constellis, however, said neither the company “nor any of its affiliates have a contract or partnership with Atlas Aegis.” The Trump campaign also told the Washington Post that it has not heard of and has no involvement with Atlas Aegis or its plans.
FPS has been heading up the multi-agency response nationwide to protests near federal properties in recent months and earned nationwide scorn for its controversial tactics, including alleged snatch-and-grab operations and the use of excessive force against journalists, legal observers and civil rights protestors in Portland, Oregon, this summer. The FPS contractors, as part of their duties, are required to assist with crowd control and have a range of skills and training — with many authorized to carry weapons and some even required to have top secret clearances.
Critics of the federal troop deployments — carried out at Trump’s urging — raise the concern that the president may in the future deploy FPS private contractors and sworn federal law enforcers to assist with “the protection” of U.S. Post Office assets, which are key to mail-in voting efforts, or even to select polling locations under the pretext of securing federal critical infrastructure against disruptive protesters or other chaos sparked by armed groups. That could even include violence precipitated by private security contractors working for local businesses or other clients, such as church groups.
The real goal, however, critics argue, would be to suppress the vote, particularly in swing states, by targeting heavily Democratic cities with large black populations. Trump, for his part, claims he is simply doing his job in ensuring law and order in the country, even as he coddles and excuses white supremacists, militia members and wannabe members who have perpetrated much of the bloodshed to date during civil rights protests around the country.
Although Atlas Aegis’ has only confirmed plans to supply its Minnesota customer with security personnel who have special ops training, that work may well only be the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential future deployments. Atlas Aegis, beyond its Franklin, Tennessee, headquarters, also has incorporated branches in Texas, Kentucky and Puerto Rico. In fact, AGAPE Tactical, according to the Johnson City Press in Tennessee, plans to provide training for church-goers in San Antonio, Texas, this year.
“A Tennessee-based company putting on training in San Antonio later this year runs one scenario where worshippers are armed with guns that fire non-lethal ammunition and then must track down and confront an actor shooting blanks inside the church,” the Johnson City Press reported earlier this year. “Before they start, participants are told every shot the actor fires represents a child who has been killed, said Ken Alexandrow of AGAPE Tactical.”
Atlas Aegis’ Caudle also has served as a top executive at another security company called the November Group LLC and is still identified as president on the company’s websiteand on his LinkedIn page. Caudle’s name is listed on public corporation filings as a current or past officer or agent of chapters of that company that are located in Ohio; Alabama (here, his address only); Puerto Rico; and Tennessee. Additional states where a company named November Group LLC has incorporated since 2016 include New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Arizona — although corporate filings examined so far do not list Caudle as a current or past officer or registered agent of those entities.
The pattern is obvious. Atlas Aegis and the November Group LLC operate, for the most part, in key election-battleground states. That may be a total coincidence, but it is still a concerning pattern, given Atlas Aegis’ recently discovered plans to send former special ops personnel to election sites in Minnesota.
In addition, both Atlas Aegis and November Group LLC have received federal funding in the past. November Group LLC in Tennessee received an $18,000 contract from the Department of Defense’s Naval Special Warfare Command in March of 2019 to provide “Combatives Training,” according to USASpending.gov. Atlas Aegis also received a $10,000 “economic injury disaster grant” this past April from the U.S. Small Business Administration as part of the federal Covid-19 relief effort.
It’s not clear where in Minnesota and for whom Atlas Aegis’ special ops forces will be deployed at this point. However, it is possible a religious organization is the client, given a church congregation typically includes business owners and concerned citizens. In addition, many polling locations in Minnesota — and in other states — are set up on church properties.
It’s also worth noting that one of the top officers at Atlas Aegis, Executive Vice President Greg Wark, has an extensive background with “faith-based organizations.”
“Greg served as a senior pastor of three congregations in Southern California before transitioning to full-time work in leadership development of military and law-enforcement personnel,” Atlas Aegis’ website states. “He has been actively involved as a pastor, counselor, mentor, and friend in a network of dynamic, caring individuals who have committed their lives to honorable service of their country.
Regardless of whose interests Atlas Aegis is serving in the Gopher State, officials with the state of Minnesota have expressed great concern over the firm’s plans to introduce armed special forces into the election-day drama and beyond.
“Private security or other related individuals or groups are not are not allowed inside polling places, only one ‘challenger’ per major political party is allowed in each polling place, and no one else other than a voter or an administrator is allowed within one hundred feet of the entrance of a polling place,” says Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. “We are actively working with state and federal law enforcement to ensure laws are enforced.
“Those laws are strictly enforced by local law enforcement. In addition, our 30,000 election judges at nearly 3,000 polling places are well-trained on those laws,” Simon adds. “Any outside effort to supplement election judges or local law enforcement is counterproductive, unwelcome, and possibly unlawful.”
Past Stories in the Private Contractor Series
- Contractors Are Part of the Team in Trump’s ‘Law and Order’ Blitzkrieg
- Private Contractor Assisting Feds in Quelling Portland Protests Is Revealed
- Trump Administration Continues to Obscure the Role of Private Contractors in Protest Clampdown
- Militarized Federal Troops in U.S. Cities
- The Lead Federal Agency Responding to Protesters in Portland Employs Thousands of Private Contractors
- Civil Rights Protesters Confront Modern-Day Pinkertons