Should the U.S. privatize the war in Afghanistan? | The Tylt

Should the U.S. privatize the war in Afghanistan?

Blackwater founder Erik Prince is currently on a media tour promoting his plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan. As reports circulate that President Trump is growing frustrated with the ongoing war, advisors worry he is becoming more open to the idea of privatization. Prince says he could dramatically reduce the cost of the war and new tactics are needed to end the conflict. Critics say his plan is poorly constructed and sets a dangerous model for American warfare. What do you think?

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Erik Prince appeared on "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on MSNBC to discuss his plans for replacing U.S. troops with trained civilians and dramatically decreasing the overall U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

ANDREA MITCHELL:
What would be the advantages of privatizing given all the objections from the Pentagon, from the State Department, from the rest of the military?
ERIK PRINCE:
First of all, privatization is a loaded term, right? Right now there's 15,000 US troops and another 30,000 contractors. All I need—all my plan would say—2,000 US special forces remain, and about 6,000 contractors. So by any stretch that is a severe reduction in manpower, and certainly in spending. Right now America, this year, 2019, will spend $62 billion just in Afghanistan. That's more than the entire UK defense budget. So if people are concerned about domestic spending, or budget deficits, or the fact that we have Americans dying, fighting and dying there now, as recently as last week, who were infants when the Twin Towers came down. We now have our first multi-generational war, and I'm trying to get a rationalization of it.
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Prince has been promoting his plan for over a year. In an August 2017 op-ed in The New York Times, Prince went into greater detail about his plan. 

This plan would use former Special Operations veterans as contractors who would live, train and patrol alongside their Afghan counterparts at the lowest company and battalion levels — where it matters most. American veterans, whose extraordinary knowledge and experience could be vital to Afghan success on the ground, would serve as adjuncts to the Afghan Army and would perform in strict conformity with Afghan rules of engagement, eliminating the stigma of a foreign occupying force. Supplemental Afghan air power, flown with Afghan markings, would include a contractor safety pilot, but only the onboard Afghan officer would make weapons decisions. All contracted personnel would be subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, just as active-duty American troops are now.
If the president pursues this third path, I, too, would vigorously compete to implement a plan that saves American lives, costs less than 20 percent of current spending and saves American taxpayers more than $40 billion a year. Just as no one criticizes Elon Musk because his company SpaceX helps supply American astronauts, no one should criticize a private company — mine or anyone else’s — for helping us end this ugly multigenerational war.
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Military experts warn that not only is Prince dramatically oversimplifying what it would take to end a conflict like the one in Afghanistan, his plan could lead to a whole new set of issues in the region. In an essay for Politico, Sean McFate, who touts his own extensive experience in working with military contractors, lists several main problems he sees with Prince's plan. 

Prince is an amateur and makes rookie mistakes, which is probably why the generals laughed at him. Somehow, he believes 6,000 mercenaries and a small air force can solve Afghanistan’s problems. This is magical thinking: NATO could not succeed with 140,000 troops eight years ago, when the Taliban was in retreat. Now they run half the country. It is unclear what Prince’s 6,000 mercenaries will do now, other than create more Nisour incidents.
Prince’s plan, such that it is, involves putting contractors “at the lowest company and battalion levels” to train the Afghan security forces. This is not new; U.S. troops have been doing this for years in one form or another. What is new is his mercenary air force, flown with Afghan markings and something he calls “a contractor safety pilot.” Whatever that means.
...The price is a problem too. Prince promises his plan will save “American taxpayers more than $40 billion a year.” Don’t believe him. Prince has not shared any financial details with the public, a curious omission. Would you buy a house without first asking the price? Of course not.
Where will these mercenaries come from? According to Prince, all will be “brave Americans” who are “former Special Operations veterans.” More sales talk. To keep costs down, he will probably have to outsource to the so-called Third World, where military labor is cheap. When I was in the industry, I worked alongside other ex-special forces and ex-paratroopers from places like the Philippines, Colombia and Uganda. We did the same missions, but they got Third World wages. Private warriors are just like T-shirts; they are cheaper in developing countries. Call it the globalization of private force.
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McFate is not the only military expert who sees serious issues with Prince's plan. Business Insider reports a Department of Defense official expressed concerns that unleashing a private military on Afghanistan would be a step backward.

"This is something out of Soldier of Fortune [magazine]. Something like this will raise all kinds of practical and logistical problems, as well as huge legal, moral and ethical ones," a Department of Defense official told The Independent in July. "The military is not going to back this kind of freewheeling."
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Prince's supporters say that using a private military force would help end the war quickly and would help the administration politically. Per The Independent: 

One of the criticisms of the end of the combat mission by international forces in 2013 was that the decision to withdraw was telegraphed long in advance, enabling the insurgents to bide their time in their camps in Pakistan, and then move back across the border to carry out relentless attacks in a security vacuum.
The backers of the privatisation plan stress that to avoid that happening again, and to follow Mr Trump’s policy of result-based rather than time-based disengagement, leaders in the West will have to commit troops for an indefinite period.
And, in those circumstances, using private security companies will be a much more politically palatable option, avoiding scenes of bodybags coming back home for years to come.
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Some critics have expressed worries that putting a private military force into Afghanistan would come dangerously close to policies held during colonialism.

Robert Reich, a former Secretary of Labor and current professor at the University of California at Berkeley, pointed out that Prince's plan calls for the installation of a "viceroy," a position that was used by colonial powers to maintain their control foreign nations.

FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should the U.S. privatize the war in Afghanistan?
#TryNewTactics
A festive crown for the winner
#DontPrivatizeWar