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CENTCOM Commander: Erik Prince's Plan For Afghanistan Isn't Happening
Neither the Afghan government nor the U.S. military believes in Erik Prince’s plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan, the commander of U.S. Central Command said on Thursday.
Erik Prince, founder of the company that used to be known as “Blackwater,” has argued that 3,600 private security contractors could do a better job than U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Moreover, Prince claims that his private army could completely change the strategic situation in Afghanistan in six months.
But Army Gen. Joseph Votel told reporters on Thursday that he doesn't buy Prince’s sales pitch. Citing Defense Secretary Mattis' previous comments on the subject, Votel said it would not be a good strategy to turn over U.S. national interest to contractors.
“We have vital interests here and we are pursuing them with legitimate forces that can do that,” Votel said during a Pentagon news briefing. “Even broader than that: The bilateral security agreement that I think is in place with Afghanistan does not allow this. The Afghans don’t want this. They would have to approve this as well, and I think as you’ve seen from some of their comments, they do not support this either.”
Afghanistan’s national security council announced on Thursday that it would take legal actions to block any effort to put private security contractors in charge of the war, according to TOLO News, an Afghan media outlet. “Under no circumstances will the Afghan government and people allow the counterterrorism fight to become a private, for-profit business,” the council said in a statement.
Blackwater gained notoriety during the Iraq war. The company’s contractors killed 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded 20 more in a September 2007 incident in Baghdad. Soon afterward, Congress made contractors subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but it is an open question as to whether that is constitutional.
Nicholas Slatten, one of the contractors involved, was initially sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder, but a U.S. appeals court overturned his conviction in 2017. The court also reduced the sentences of three other contractors because it found their lengthy prison sentences violated the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Slatten was prosecuted for murder a second time, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict and the case ended in a mistrial in September.
In August, Mattis said he did not see any advantages to having a private army take over the war in Afghanistan from the U.S. military.
“When Americans put their nation's credibility on the line privatizing it is probably not a wise idea,” Mattis told reporters during a news conference at the Pentagon.
Prince was not immediately available for comment, a spokesman for his latest private security from Frontier Services Group told Task & Purpose.
A spokesperson for Eric Prince sent T&P; a statement about Prince’s argument in favor of having security contractors take responsibility for the fight in Afghanistan. T&P; was unable to verify how much the U.S. government spends on the war in Afghanistan and what the attrition rate is for Afghan troops and police.
“Anyone who says that the current effort in Afghanistan is working is deluded,” the spokesperson said. “The US taxpayer is spending $62bn per year, our soldiers are dying and the Afghan army is losing 3% of its man-power every month due to death, injury or desertion. Something needs to change.
“The plan that I am supporting is not a privatization – that is a mischaracterization, there are currently 30,000 contractors in-country and this plan aims to reduce that number. It is a rationalization of the war effort to end this war.
“Sure there are detractors from those in Afghanistan and elsewhere who benefit from the status quo, but there is widespread support for this plan too across Afghanistan’s military, political and societal stakeholders. I know this first hand. They can see their people are dying and the war is being lost and they want change.”
UPDATE: This story was updated at 6 p.m. on Oct. 4 to include a statement from Erik Prince's spokesperson.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
A missing Canadian ex-soldier was reportedly smuggled across the US border and is hiding with a neo-Nazi group
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Former Canadian Army Reserve Master Cpl. Patrik Mathews, 26, was first identified as a member of The Base by Winnipeg Free Press reporter Ryan Thorpe.
Days after Thorpe's report was published, Mathews went missing and was discharged from the military for his alleged ties to the group. His car was found about 10 miles from the U.S. border soon thereafter, and police found a cache of weapons when they raided his home.
Vice reporters Ben Makuch, Mack Lamoureux, and Zachary Kamel, citing confidential sources, reported on Thursday that Mathews had been illegally smuggled across the border and is being hidden by members of The Base, which has operated in encrypted chatrooms as a largely online organization.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.