Blackwater founder questions US Afghanistan strategy

Washington (CNN)Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince is publicly touting a proposal to shake up the US military strategy in Afghanistan.

“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 that aired on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” on Monday night. “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.”
Instead, the former Navy SEAL and founder of the controversial defense contracting firm, now named Academi, has proposed implementing a US viceroy in Afghanistan and increasing the number of government contractors on the ground.
    “They’d be military employees of the Afghan government,” Prince explained. “Imagine them as a skeletal structure that provides leadership, intelligence, medical, communications and logistics support to all those Afghan battalions so it works reliably.”
    Prince has penned op-eds for USA Today and the Wall Street Journal on the plan, in which he compared the proposal for restructuring of the war to a “bankruptcy reorganization.”
    Prince said some in the White House, including one of President Donald Trump’s top advisers, Steve Bannon, and members of the National Security Council, are open to the strategy — along with others in Congress.
    Bannon reached out to Prince after the WSJ op-ed published, expressing interest in alternative strategies for Afghanistan, Prince said.
    However, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster is opposed to the idea, Prince said.
    “I would say Gen. McMaster does not like this idea because he is a three-star conventional Army general, and he is wedded to that idea that the US Army is going to solve this,” he said.
    But Prince was adamant that the contractor forces would not be mercenaries, or fighters trying to profit off the war.
    “They are not mercenaries. They would be attached as long-term trainer-advisers,” Prince said.
    Prince also has a personal tie to the Trump administration; his sister is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

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