By Chris Lefkow / Agence France-Presse
Nearly 16 years after US forces entered Afghanistan, a shadowy determine from the previous is making the rounds in Washington with a plan to end America’s longest war.
Erik Prince, founder of the personal safety firm Blackwater, has resurfaced as President Donald Trump mulls over what to do a few battle that bedeviled his two predecessors within the White House.
Prince’s plan for Afghanistan would begin with the naming of an omnipotent American “viceroy” who would report to the president and play a task like that of General Douglas MacArthur in post-World War II Japan.
American troops, apart from a handful of particular forces, would get replaced by a personal military of round 5,500 contractors who would practice Afghan troopers and be a part of them within the combat towards the Taliban.
They can be backed by a 90-aircraft personal air pressure.
And all at a value of lower than $10 billion a 12 months, as opposed to the $45 billion the United States is anticipated to spend in 2017 on its army presence in Afghanistan.
Prince, a 48-year-old former US Navy SEAL, has saved a low profile since promoting Blackwater in 2010 — three years after a few of his workers employed to defend US diplomats killed 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad and wounded one other 17.
He first outlined his Afghan proposal in an article for The Wall Street Journal in May. Since then, Prince, who at the moment heads Frontier Services Group, a Hong Kong-based safety firm, has met with US officers right here and made tv appearances selling his plan.
Prince, whose sister Betsy DeVos is Trump’s training secretary, says he has acquired a sympathetic listening to from the president’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and a few members of Congress however a cold reception from the Pentagon.
– ‘I took over a mess’ –
After taking workplace in January, Trump ordered a strategic evaluation of the state of affairs in Afghanistan, the place some eight,400 US troopers and 5,000 NATO troops are helping the Afghan safety forces in battling an emboldened Taliban.
Trump stated Thursday that he was “very close” to revealing his choice on how to proceed within the war-torn nation, the place 2,000 US troops have died since Americans first deployed there within the weeks after the September 11, 2001 terror assaults.
“We’re getting very close. It’s a very big decision for me. I took over a mess, and we’re going to make it a lot less messy,” stated Trump, whose frustration with the stalemate in Afghanistan reportedly led him final month to recommend firing the US commander there, General John Nicholson.
Trump has given Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authority to set troop ranges in Afghanistan and the retired basic is claimed to be leaning in direction of boosting US forces there by about four,000 troops.
Prince, in an interview with CNN, stated he has not met with Trump to talk about his plan and acknowledged that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, like Mattis, a former basic, was not eager on the proposal.
“I would say General McMaster does not like this idea because he is a three-star conventional army general and he is wedded to the idea that the US Army is going to solve this,” Prince stated.
“But I think to the president he’s got to say, ‘after 16 years when do we to try something different?’” Prince added.
– ‘Bad soldier of fortune novel’ –
Retired generals McMaster and Mattis usually are not the one skeptics when it comes to Prince’s plan.
“It’s something that would come from a bad soldier of fortune novel,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham informed The Washington Post. “I trust our generals. I don’t trust contractors to make our national security policy decisions.”
Sean McFate, a former army contractor in Africa and creator of a ebook in regards to the personal safety trade, “The Modern Mercenary,” stated he considers Prince’s proposal to be “supremely dangerous and foolish.”
“There’s been no discussion about oversight, regulation, safety, accountability, control,” McFate informed AFP.
He stated personal contractors in Afghanistan would inevitably be concerned in a horrific occasion just like the September 2007 killing of Iraqi civilians by the Blackwater contractors in Baghdad.
“The first time there’s a massacre we’re going to have to go in there with the Marine Corps and rescue them,” he stated.
“Ultimately you get what you pay for,” McFate stated. “It’s like having cheap contractors fix your house. At the end of the day it takes twice as long and is four times as expensive.”
Stephen Biddle, a political science professor at George Washington University, stated he thought of Prince’s plan “pretty dreadful” however will not be stunned it’s at getting a listening to in a White House in search of a brand new strategy.
“The president isn’t very happy with the options that he’s got and is predisposed to like things that are new,” Biddle informed AFP. “And Republicans in general tend to like privatization.”
“But not all new ideas are good ideas,” Biddle stated.(AFP)