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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.
The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.
The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.
The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.
Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.
Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.
Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.
These CIA officers were the first US boots on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11 — and one was 'Marine Todd'
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The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.
Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."
That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.
Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.
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Sometimes a joke just doesn't work.
For example, the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service tweeted and subsequently deleted a Gilbert Gottfried-esque misfire about the "Storm Area 51" movement.
On Friday DVIDSHUB tweeted a picture of a B-2 bomber on the flight line with a formation of airmen in front of it along with the caption: "The last thing #Millenials will see if they attempt the #area51raid today."