ION Services, Incorporated (alternately stylised as IoN and shortened to ION Inc.) is a U.S.-based private military company. It serves as a playable Independent faction in ArmA: Armed Assault and ArmA 2, and also makes a minor appearance in ArmA 3.
Prior to its rebranding, the company was also known as Black Element.
|«||ION, Inc. Keeping an eye on your security.
Initially established as an aviation security agency, ION Services, then-known as Black Element, expanded further into the private security sector following an increased need for PMCs in the wake of the growing tensions in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002.
Growing in size and reputation with the acquisition of several influential rival companies, ION has emerged as the largest PMC to date in the United States, becoming a key player in the global security services market. Advertisements for the company's services are visibly displayed throughout numerous countries worldwide; ranging from the Horizon Islands to even remote microstates like Malden.
ION offers a broad array of business and security-related solutions to a wide base of international clients, ranging from providing strategic resource protection, petrochemical mining, as well as security for nuclear facilities.
The company predominately favours hiring ex-military servicemen and women - including nationals from both NATO and Eastern countries alike.
All contractors are highly trained professionals who are experts in their various fields. Similarly, an Autonomous Systems Division (ASD) that specialises in robotics is also known to be fielded by ION for the more "unique" contracts.
ION is a subsidiary of the Canadian conglomerate Vrana Corporation, the PMC's primary shareholder.
Black Element PMC was first founded in 1998 as a private aviation security agency based in South Carolina, U.S.
After a series of incidents involving Black Element contractors operating in Sahrani, the company was acquired by the Montreal-based Vrana Corp Industries in 2010. It was renamed to ION, Inc. on October 1, 2010 due to the "Black Element" name being tainted and thus a liability.
Events of Royal Flush (2007)
NOTE: This section contains spoilers from the 'Royal Flush' campaign in ArmA: Queen's Gambit
One year after the reunification of the Kingdom of Sahrani, a Black Element team (codenamed Royal Flush) was secretly hired by Isabella Ximénez, Queen of Sahrani, who was facing a steadily growing insurgent organisation in the island's northern provinces following the death of her father, King Joseph III and her brother, Prince Orlando in a helicopter crash.
Royal Flush's mission was to help quell the insurgency and to seize the chemical weapons believed to be in hands of the rebels. However, they discovered that the rebels are led by Prince Orlando himself, who actually survived the accident. He reveals to the PMCs that Queen Isabella was a ruthless leader that was sending her political opponents to concentration camps without the knowledge of the international community.
Facing these facts, the Royal Flush team decided to violate their orders and assisted the rebels instead. With their help, the rebels quickly gain the upper hand and begin to liberate the prisoners being held in the camps.
With the rebels and PMCs closing in, Queen Isabella offers a peace deal to Prince Orlando to put an end to the fighting. In reality however, the deal was a trap all along, and Isabella assassinates the Prince at the summit. The remaining members of Royal Flush are forced to make a hasty getaway in a plane to escape from the island, with Black Element disavowing them as rogue contractors and denying any responsibility for their actions or the attempted coup.
Events of Operation Harvest Red (2009)
Little is known about Black Element's operations in Chernarus during the U.S. intervention, save that Mark Reynolds was in the country at the time searching for the notorious arms dealer Aslan Radayev and interrogated the ChDKZ's second-in-command, Mikola Bardak.
They were however, involved in a series of controversial incidents that caused the deaths of several Chernarussian civilians in Elektrozavodsk. The incident sparked global outrage over Black Element's involvement, and led to intense public scrutiny over its activities in the country.
In 2010, Black Element's contract from the U.S. government was eventually declared void, and all operations in the Green Sea region were forced to cease immediately.
Events of Operation Black Gauntlet (2013)
NOTE: This section contains spoilers from the 'Operation Black Gauntlet' campaign in ArmA 2's Private Military Company DLC
Following the UN-mandated intervention in Takistan, Black Element, now known as ION Services, received a new contract to provide an escort for a UN inspection team which had been sent to the the wartorn nation to search evidence of a supposed nuclear programme developed under the previous regime. The security detail is led by a former Black Element veteran, Mark Reynolds.
Not everything goes smoothly however, with the team being caught in the crossfire between both New Takistani Army (NTA) government forces and the various tribal groups in the country who were now hostile to both the NTA and their foreign partners. Even the few Western coalition forces who remained behind in the region offered little sympathy for the mercenaries.
After meeting up with the inspectors, the team comes under fire from anti-government rebels launching a raid on the airport. They are then sent to Zargabad to find an informant who had information on the nuclear programme, and similarly find themselves under fire from the NTA and are forced to retreat. During the mission, one of the detail's members are also killed in the fighting.
Fighting their way through the highly unstable and volatile central Takistan, the team finally arrives at the presumed site of where the programme was being developed and to their shock, actually recover weapons-grade nuclear material with the source of the materiel procured: the People's Republic of China.
At that same moment, ION's executives are suddenly contacted by a foreign government with a new contract to silence the investigators. Fearing that that the revelation of China's support for the Takistani nuclear programme would wreak havoc on the global markets, the executives agree to the contract, and inform Reynolds' team to assassinate the inspection team before they can return to Zargabad to reveal the truth.
The rebels are blamed for the deaths of the inspectors, and all evidence of the Chinese government's involvement in the nuclear programme is reclaimed by the contractors.
Both Vrana and ION issue public statements to deny any involvement in the incident, and use the opportunity to stress the need for more PMCs in the country.
Post-Operation Black Gauntlet
To no surprise, ION succeeds in its PR "offensive" and secures further security contracts in Takistan, greatly expanding its activities and influence in the region for years to come.
Events of The East Wind (2035)
More than two decades after Operation Black Gauntlet's aftermath, ION continues to play a key role in global events, with active contracts throughout the world's hotspots in the wake of NATO's continued decline, political turmoil throughout Europe, and CSAT's ever-growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
ION provides instructors for NATO's jointly-operated training facilities on the Mediterranean island nation of the Republic of Altis and Stratis.
They are later contracted by the U.S. government to assist in the decommissioning of NATO facilities on Stratis, but their arrival is delayed after the peacekeepers of Task Force Aegis are suddenly attacked by the Altis Armed Forces.
At this point in time, a limited presence is also known to be set up on the microstate of Malden. The exact size or scale of their deployment is not known, however.
Post-The East Wind
With the AAF's defeat at the hands of the U.S.-led NATO retaliatory force, ION is once again sent to assist in the dismantling of NATO facilities on both islands. Several ION security contractors can be seen escorting the new president-elect of Altis, Nikos Panagopoulos, as he tours the nation in the aftermath of the conflict.
By the late 2030s, the departure of senior management officials at its parent company, Vrana, has left the status of its subsidiaries (including ION) in doubt. It is currently unclear as to how severely ION has been affected by the fallout of the crisis, or whether it has been affected at all.
ION's contractors come from a highly diverse range of ethnic and national backgrounds. As a result, there is no standardised set of hardware for their forces. Contractors wield weapons ranging from Belgian-made FAL rifles to German prototypes like the XM8, Iranian Sting submachine guns, Russian-made RPG-18 rocket launchers to American M16s/MX assault rifles.
Naturally, this also extends to personal gear, with contractors choosing to wear casual clothing mixed in with baseball caps and military-grade personal protective equipment like plate carriers, combat helmets, and tactical vests.
Vehicle operators trained in offensive driving and former military pilots are also deployed where necessary, serving either as the drivers of V.I.P limousines or transport helicopters/cargo planes (respectively). A few teams are even known to operate light APCs, though they are only deployed on specific missions that require heavy fire support.
- ION's overall purpose, structure, and design is heavily inspired by the real-world "Academi" PMC based in the United States (formerly known as "Blackwater USA" and then renamed to "Xe Services").
- Academi is well-known for its operations in the Middle East and throughout the world, along with having a notorious reputation for being involved in numerous scandals and controversies surrounding its past activities.
- Upon the DLC's release, ION units in ArmA 2 did not have access to M113 APCs. They were only added following the latest Steam version patches (as part of the Community Configuration Project update).
- An unused flag (texture name: flag_ion_co.paa) is hidden within ArmA 3's Apex expansion files, though it is simply a stretched-out placeholder image rather than an actual flag.
|Factions of ArmA 2|
|BLUFOR||USMC • CDF • U.S. Army • KSK • ACR • British Army|
|OPFOR||Russian Armed Forces • ChDKZ • Takistani Army • Takistani Militia|
|Independent||NAPA • Takistani Rebels • United Nations • ION|
|Operation Arrowhead | British Armed Forces|
|Factions - Independent (ArmA 2)|
|NAPA • Takistani Rebels • United Nations • ION|
|Operation Arrowhead | British Armed Forces|
|ArmA: Armed Assault||Black Element • Resistance • USMC|
|ArmA 2||Bystrican Militia • Takistani Militia|
|ArmA 3||CTRG • IDAP • Task Force Aegis • The Visitors* • Viper|
|ArmA: Mobile Ops||Attidan Guerrillas • Task Force|
|* this sub-faction does not canonically exist within the main Armaverse timeline.|