Erik Prince, founder of the private military corporation Blackwater Worldwide, slammed President Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy for being an “Obama-lite policy.”
Prince is known for encouraging governments and especially US administrations to hire contractors. He called Trump’s latest plan “a continuation of the same limited or failed strategy of the last 16 years.”
“This is a kind of Obama-lite policy,” Prince said, referring to former President Obama’s plan in 2009 to increase the troops in Afghanistan by 30,000. The surge in the number of troops brought the total number of military personnel in the war-torn country to a little over 100,000 in 2011, before it was significantly reduced.
“This is a lighter but almost as expensive version. Remember, the Pentagon now is spending as much as when they had five times as many troops in the country. It’s horrendous how they’ve lost control of the spending. That’s what makes this so unsustainable,” Prince said.
In addition to the 8,400 troops already there, President Trump is expected to send about 3,900 more. However, he declined to reveal the exact number of troops he would send or how much they are expected to spend in the country.
Prince is skeptical that either President Trump or Defense Secretary James Mattis truly support this new war plan – which Prince views as so obviously flawed.
“I don’t think the president loves this plan, I don’t think Secretary Mattis does either. He’s not even on the same continent,” Prince said, talking about Mattis’ current tour of Europe and Middle East.
According to several reports, Prince had been publicly and privately devising a plan to replace US troops with private contractors. However, his plans are now all for naught, since Trump unveiled his new Afghanistan strategy.
According to the New York Times knowledge of the matter, Prince’s plan would have sent 5,500 private military contractors to collaborate with Afghan military at the battalion level.
While Erik Prince did not brief President Trump on his proposed Afghanistan strategy, it is reported that he did talk with then-Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, H.R. McMaster, and Reince Priebus about his plan.
“Our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check,” Trump intoned, speaking to fears that the Afghanistan war will go on forever – and that it’s a dangerous place for the US to be, given Afghanistan’s reputation as the “graveyard of empires.”
Erik Prince is skeptical of Trump’s claims, however, and does fear a continuation of the Afghanistan war.