Small Wars Journal

Erik Prince, in Kabul, Pushes Privatization of the Afghan War - and is Everywhere

Fri, 10/05/2018 - 1:35am

Erik Prince, in Kabul, Pushes Privatization of the Afghan War by Karen DeYoung , Shane Harris and Dan Lamothe – Washington Post

More than a year after his plan to privatize the Afghan war was first shot down by the Trump ­administration, Erik Prince returned late last month to Kabul to push the proposal on the beleaguered government in Afghanistan, where many believe he has the ear — and the potential backing — of the U.S. president.

Prince swept through the capital, meeting with influential political figures within and outside the administration of President Ashraf Ghani.

“He’s winning Afghans over with the assumption that he’s close to Trump,” said one well-informed Afghan, adding that many of Prince’s ideas feed into frustration with and within the Afghan military, particularly given its high casualty rate.

But Prince also sparked what Ghani, in a statement Thursday, condemned as “a debate” within the country over “adding new foreign and unaccountable elements to our fight.”

“Under no circumstances,” the statement said, will Afghanistan “allow the counterterrorism fight to become a private, for-profit business.”

At the Pentagon, the head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, told reporters that “I absolutely do not agree” with Prince’s contention that he could win the war more quickly and for less money with a few thousand hired guns…

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As Afghanistan Frays, Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Is Everywhere by Mujib Mashal – New York Times

A new crop of senior American officials in Afghanistan has been racing to contain a dual crisis on the battlefield and in a potentially explosive election dispute. But it is a different American figure — the mercenary executive Erik D. Prince — who has been the talk of Kabul these days.

More than a year after first laying out his plan to President Trump to privatize the American war in Afghanistan with a cadre of contractors — and a private air force — Mr. Prince, the founder of the Blackwater security firm that became infamous for killing civilians in Iraq, has seemingly been everywhere.

And as he has made his sales pitch directly to a host of influential Afghans, he has frequently been introduced as an adviser to Mr. Trump himself.

Mr. Prince is pushing his plan at a particularly vulnerable time for the country. Afghan security forces are dying at a record number of 30 to 40 a day largely in a defensive posture against a Taliban that has gained territory. The government is beset by repeated political crises as parliamentary elections, delayed for three years, are scheduled for next month. Presidential elections are set for April…

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