Mattis Shuts Down The Idea Of Privatizing The War In Afghanistan

Bullet Points

Breaking from his usual detachment, Defense Secretary James Mattis called bullshit on Erik Prince's scheme to hand over the Afghanistan war to mercenaries.


  • “When the Americans put their nation's credibility on the line, privatizing it is probably not a wise idea,” Mattis said when asked Tuesday if there were any advantages to using a private army in Afghanistan.
  • Prince founded the private security firm Blackwater, which became infamous in September 2007 when the company’s contractors killed 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded another 20 in Baghdad's Nisour Square.
  • For more than a year, Prince has been trying to whisper into President Donald Trump’s ear that his legion of contractors could do a better job fighting the Taliban than American and coalition troops.
  • Prince is now making another push to privatize the war amid recent Taliban successes, hoping to find a more receptive audience in Trump.
  • Mattis argued valiantly on Tuesday that the U.S. military is successfully applying pressure on the Taliban to move toward peace negotiations with the Afghan government. He got into a heated exchange with one reporter, who asked why Afghan troops and police were unable to stop the Taliban from occupying the city of Ghazni.
  • “First of all, I would not say they fell apart because there were six military objectives in Ghazni,” Mattis said. “They [the Taliban] did not achieve a single one. Now, could they go in and shoot up the residential neighborhood, chase the police out where they outnumbered them, outgunned them? This is not an easy fight. We’ve never said it was. I wouldn’t jump to a larger conclusion about this being emblematic. The fact is: innocent people are vulnerable to terrorism, whether they be in Brussels or New York City or Ghazni.”

WATCH NEXT:

AP Photo / Khalid Mohammed.
Jeff Schogol

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.

Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.

Read More Show Less

U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.

The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.

Read More Show Less
(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.

If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."

Read More Show Less

There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.

For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.

Read More Show Less
(Facebook photo)

The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.

Read More Show Less