Blackwater’s Erik Prince seeking White House approval to privatize Afghan war

A plan devised by former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince to privatize the 15-year-old war in Afghanistan is reportedly under consideration by the Trump administration.

Prince, a former Navy SEAL, co-founded the government services and security company Blackwater USA in 1997.  Now known as Academi, the private contracting firm provides training and security services for law enforcement agencies and the U.S. military.

Under Prince’s plan, a White House appointed “viceroy” would oversee the withdrawal of U.S. troops and their replacement with a contingent of private contractors.  In his plan, Prince says contractors would administer support activities, advise and train Afghan troops and police, and conduct air operations.

Prince’s plan calls for the “viceroy” to report directly to the president.

At a cost of $3.5 billion, far less than the $45 billion the Pentagon estimates for Afghanistan this year, Prince claims his vision will turn the tide of the war around in America’s and Afghanistan’s favor.

Describing a recent spate of attacks by Taliban terrorists which have killed over 300 civilians over the past weeks, Prince cited lower costs and outlined his needs to fulfill what he says could be a winning strategy during an appearance on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell.

“Right now, there are 15,000 US troops and another 30,000 contractors. All I need is . . . my plan would say 2,000 special forces remain and about 6,000 contractors,” Prince said.

What worked after 9/11 were a few CIA officers, a few special forces, some air support, and they decimated the Taliban in a matter of weeks.  We have been losing ever since.”

Prince attempted to sell his plan in 2017, even penning commentary in the Wall Street Journal, but was met with resistance by former national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Sec. James Mattis.

All three men were reputed to oppose Prince’s plan in view of the fact it transferred military functions over to private contractors.

With two of the three men opposed now out of the White House, Prince has doubled his efforts, has appeared on numerous news programs touting the plan, and has created a six-minute video laying out his strategy for victory.

While the administration reportedly agrees with Prince’s analysis of problems, it has largely disagreed with his solutions, until now.

Trump, who is said to have expressed frustration with the slow progress of the war, is believed to have been persuaded to more closely examine Prince’s solutions.

Just over one year ago, Trump unveiled a strategy to win in Afghanistan.  A plan which included the addition of 6,000 additional troops, the removal of operational restrictions and pressuring Pakistan for more cooperation in defeating al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists.

Despite Prince’s renewed optimism, a National Security Council spokesperson told NBC News Prince’s proposal is not under consideration at the White House.

 

[NBC News] [Voice of America] [Photo courtesy Adam Ferguson/Vanity Fair]

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