On October 1st, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that he would not allow “foreign mercenaries” to operate in Afghanistan, during his address at the 3rd Mayors National Conference.
According to him Afghan Security Forces have enough potential and have so far managed to save the country from “collapse.”
“You should know that the work which is done by Afghans cannot be done by any foreign mercenary and foreign mercenaries will never be allowed in this soil,” Ghani said.
Ghani’s remarks come days after Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater security company, in an interview with TOLO news, insisted the Afghan war will end within “a few months” using his plan to send in few thousand contracted mentors to Afghanistan.
According to Prince, 3,600 “contracted veteran mentors” from Blackwater will be deployed to Afghanistan – 36 for each Afghan unit and for two to four years at a time.
Prince has previously also called for the use of contractors in Afghanistan. Blackwater became subject to controversy, when in 2007, contractors working for Blackwater were accused of killing over 10 Iraqi civilians.
In an interview with the Military Times, published on September 5th, Erik Prince shared his vision that it was time to try a new approach in Afghanistan. According to his $5 billion plan, spending will be cut to a sliver of current levels, get most troops home and eliminate Pakistan’s influence on U.S. policy there. His idea was simply: Let him run the war.
He first presented his idea back in 2017 when US President Donald Trump officially assumed office, hoping that the president’s long-stated opposition to keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan would open the door to a privatized presence.
Trump back then listened to his national security team, which is filled with critics of the plan such as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
Now that McMaster and Tillerson no longer work for the White House, Prince has sensed another opportunity. NBC News reported in August that President Donald Trump is increasingly venting his frustration to his national security team about the US Strategy in Afghanistan and has showed renewed interest in Erik Prince’s proposal.
“I know he’s frustrated,” Prince said of the president. “He gave the Pentagon what they wanted. …And they haven’t delivered.” Prince said he hasn’t spoken directly to Trump about the plan but told NBC News he plans to launch an aggressive media “air campaign” in coming days to try to get the president to embrace it.
Erik Prince is against a full withdrawal from Afghanistan, he wishes to replace the US military with contractors. “There’s a lot of people that say just pull out of Afghanistan. I disagree with that because I think the Taliban or ISIS would raise their battle flag over the US Embassy in six months or a year,” Prince said in an interview with CNN in August. “That’s bad. But continuing the same — I would say insanity — that we’ve been doing for the last 16 years, that has to change.”
The idea to privatize the war has been also opposed by Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. His office said that the plan is not applicable to the country. “The plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan is not a working plan and is not applicable,” said Omid Maisam, a spokesman for the chief executive.
The Afghan parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, also reacted to the plan to privatize the Afghan war, saying it is not in Afghanistan’s favor. “The question is that how a private company will be able to ensure security in Afghanistan? This is certainly concerning,” said Rauf Ibrahimi, the Wolesi Jirga Speaker. “How can a private company win a war which US, NATO and its allies could not end it in 17 years?” asked Ghulam Farooq Majroh an MP.
On August 28, US Defense Secretary James Mattis reacted to the plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan and said, “it is probably not a wise idea”. “When Americans put their nation’s credibility on the line, privatizing it is probably not a wise idea,” Mattis told reporters.
Afghanistan is dubbed the “Graveyard of Empires,” for a reason, it has been 17 years of war, and the US, together with Afghan Security Forces appear to be no closer to winning the war, even more so, they appear to be losing to the Taliban on most fronts.