Blackwater USA, the former contractor security firm published a full-page advert in Recoil magazine’s January/February issue showing the company’s logo and simply a message “We are coming.”
This follows US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’ resignation. His resignation followed US President Donald Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal from Syria and rumors of a pull out of 7,000 US troops from Afghanistan.
Thus, speculation has began if whether the war in Afghanistan or “possibly elsewhere” is about to be privatized.
The return of Blackwater would mean the return of a private security contractor that was banned from Iraq, afterwards it re-branded, but it had never been gone.
“By 2016 Blackwater had been re-named and restructured several times, and was known at the time as Constellis Group, when it was purchased by the Apollo Holdings Group. Reuters reported earlier this year that Apollo had put Constellis up for sale, but in June the sale was put on hold.
A representative for Constellis told Military Times late Friday that while it had acquired the former Blackwater training center in the 2016 purchase, it has no affiliation with the former security firm. It did not retain Blackwater’s founder and former CEO Erik Prince and has no current connection to him, or the firm’s former management structure,” the Marine Corps Times reported.
The full-page advert in Recoil magazine means that Blackwater is returning on its own, but at this point is simply a teaser.
Prince has repeatedly tried to “court” US President Donald Trump’s administration with the idea to privatize the Afghanistan war. He has claimed that the war in Afghanistan is proving too burdensome for the US and his proposed $5 billion plan would prove better.
His efforts were increased when Trump administration’s new South Asia Strategy, which was crafted with Mattis passed its year-one mark.
Tara Copp, the author of the Marine Corps Times report claimed that the notion of leaning on a smaller number of privatized forces could be attractive for some of the current US military leadership on the ground.
“That includes former Joint Special Operations Command chief Army Lt. Gen. Scott Miller, a source familiar with Miller’s approach told Military Times. Miller replaced Gen. John Nicholson as the head of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan in September.”
In an interview with the Military Times, Erik Prince said he would end the NATO mission in Afghanistan and replace the estimated 23,000 forces in the country with a force of 6,000 contractors and 2,000 active-duty special forces.
The potential privatization was discarded by the White House and was criticized by Jim Mattis. He claimed that it was a risk to put national security in the hands of contractors.
“When Americans put their nation’s credibility on the line, privatizing it is probably not a wise idea,” Mattis said. But he resigned.
An unnamed Department of Defense Official cited by the Marine Corps Times said that drastic change would “be more likely” after Mattis is out.
“With Mattis now gone it is conceivable that Trump now may reevaluate” Prince’s proposal, Michael Maloof, former Pentagon security analyst, told RT. “Erik Prince is very close to Trump,” the analyst pointed out, but “he would have to bring very traumatic force and it’s going to cost money and Erik Prince is getting paid by the US government.”
It is yet to be seen if the US public would actually accept Blackwater’s return to the military scene.
“I don’t think the American public would stand for a company that has committed so many crimes in the past. Erik Price and mercenaries make money by continuing wars, not ending them,” political activist Medea Benjamin said.
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