Small Wars Journal

Here’s the Blueprint for Erik Prince’s $5 Billion Plan to Privatize the Afghanistan War

Here’s the Blueprint for Erik Prince’s $5 Billion Plan to Privatize the Afghanistan War by Tara Copp - Military Times

Blackwater founder Erik Prince thinks the time is right to try a new approach in Afghanistan, one that he says will reduce war spending to a sliver of its current levels, get most troops home and eliminate Pakistan’s influence on U.S. policy there: Let him run it.

In an exclusive interview with Military Times, Prince shared new details about his proposed force and why he believes a small footprint of private military contractors and even smaller footprint of U.S. special operators may be able to accomplish what hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and NATO forces over the last 17 years could not.

Prince first presented the idea as President Donald Trump took office last year, hoping that the president’s long-stated opposition to keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan would open the door to a privatized presence.

But Trump listened to his national security team instead, including critics of the plan like Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster…

Read on.


The best part of Prince's idea is the one about having U.S. mentors with their Afghan units for 3+ years.  Having personally worked in Afghanistan as a contractor and seeing the benefit of contractors working along side Afghan military guys for 6,7, or more years, I know how effective building and sustaining a long-term relationship with your host-nation counter-part can be.  Contractors can provide the continuity that military bubbas, on one-year rotations (or 6-7 months if SOF), cannot.

I also saw the down-side of having contractors advising Afghan forces, specifically when my team leader cautioned us about reporting our Afghan unit reaching "full operational capability", or FOC, because that might make our jobs disappear.  I thought that's what advising was yourself out of a job....?  But that's where the military folks would play a role, ensuring that the contract force is doing just that instead of preserving their jobs (that military force of 2000 needs to have lots of contracting officers, or KOs, with them).

Our Constitution allows for the issuing of Letters of Marque & Reprisal, enabling a private entity to operate under government sanction.  Have Prince (Academi, Constellis, whatever their name is...) operate under a Letter of Marque and let's see what they can do.  The private company, Executive Outcomes, using less than a battalions worth of men (former members of SADF), was able to restore control in Sierra Leone with relative ease.  Prince's idea has merit, though it is certainly unusual.  Our government and military have spent almost two decades playing fiddly-frak in Afghanistan and it looks pretty much the same as when I was there in '08 with an ETT.  Mr. Prince seems to have a workable plan.  Let him give it a go.  It can't be any worse than what we've been doing thus far.