The former founder and CEO of Blackwater says he needs just six months and roughly 3,600 men to make the Afghan War look far different from the shitshow it is now.
In an interview with Afghanistan's TOLO News, Erik Prince once again pitched his idea to privatize the nearly-17-year-old conflict, offering up a force of "contracted veteran mentors" from the United States and NATO countries to serve alongside Afghan security forces.
“Well, I would say six months after the program is fully ramped up, you have a very different situation on the ground, I will commit to that,” Prince said, outlining a plan to provide 36 contractors for each unit of Afghan security forces, who would serve for two to four years at a time.
Yes, you read that right: Erik Prince says he can turn the war around in six months while suggesting his contractors could be there for at least four years.
“They provide leadership, intelligence, communications, medicals, and logistics expertise to their Afghan counterparts and go with them in the field all the time to make sure their Afghan counterparts are paid and fed, that they are well led, that they have a communications plan, all those essential elements of soldiering don’t break down,” he said.
Prince also said that if one of his contractors "does an evil act" such as intentionally injuring a civilian, they "could" be held accountable through the military's Uniform Code of Military Justice, which brought military contractors into the fold back in 2007.
"It's legally possible" to bring charges against a contractor in Afghanistan or elsewhere, according to Phil Carter, a lawyer and senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. "Contractors can be subject to the UCMJ in war or contingency operations."
But... there's a big but.
Carter mentioned the court-martial of Alaa Mohammad Ali, an Iraqi working for a contractor who was convicted of stabbing a fellow contractor. Although Ali was convicted and his appeal was subsequently denied, it still remains an open question of whether an American civilian could be convicted under military law and still pass constitutional muster.
"It's not really been tested otherwise, and there's sort of a big question as to how this would take place," Carter said.
Prince has been shopping his privatization plan for several months to American officials and in the media. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis shot down the idea last month, telling reporters at the Pentagon that "privatizing is probably not a wise idea."
A spokesman for the U.S. Resolute Support Mission declined to comment.
It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday.
"I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."
On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range.
Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying.
"At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"
Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head.
As a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a newly minted second lieutenant, I felt well-prepared to tackle the challenges facing a junior field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the time came to leave the Army, however, I was much less prepared to make the transition into the yet-unknown civilian sector.
One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.
The two-star general in charge of the roughly 15,000-strong 2nd Marine Division has turned micromanagement into an art form with a new policy letter ordering his Marines and sailors to cut their hair, shave their faces, and adhere to a daily schedule that he has prescribed.
In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.
Top U.S. and Japanese defense officials are downplaying the possibility that the Chinese military could recover the wreckage of a Japanese F-35A that crashed on April 9 in the Pacific Ocean.
The Joint Strike Fighter disappeared from radar about 85 miles east of Honshu, Japan's main island. Although ships and aircraft have spotted some debris in the area where the plane is believed to have crashed, both the wreckage and pilot remain missing.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the 4th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang in this April 10, 2019 photo released on April 11, 2019 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS/File Photo
MOSCOW (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will travel to Russia this month for talks with President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Thursday, announcing the first Russia-North Korea summit since Kim came to power in 2011.
The announcement coincided with a moment of discord in efforts by U.S. President Donald Trump's administration to reach a deal with Kim to end nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula.