President Trump is reportedly worried about America losing in the Afghanistan War, which frustrated Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has acknowledged the need for the country to adopt a new strategy to end America’s longest war. However, there is tension in the White House, following the debate on whether to end America’s engagement in the war or privatize it. A proposal before White House proposes for the engagement of 5,500 private contractors from former Special Operations Troop to advise Afghan combat battalions, and a 90-plane private air force to provide air support against the Taliban insurgents. The contractors are expected to replace the 8,400 US troops whose key role is to advise and guide local forces in Afghanistan.
America has been on the forefront of innovative and risky innovations aimed at ending wars. In prior years, the country has engaged contractors such as Blackwater who provided security to America Diplomats in Iraq and Flying Tigers, which was formed before the Second World War and sent to China to defend the Japanese aggression. It is expected that the White House might consider contracting XE Services, formerly Blackwater and Flying Tigers comprising of military pilots are expected to provide medical evacuation services, ferry troops and provide fire support services.
General John Nicholson, a top US commander in Afghanistan is recommending for several thousand troops to be deployed to Afghanistan to reinforce the advisory mission and help turn the tide against the Taliban. Currently, US troops have been primarily stationed at top-level headquarters hence not embedded with conventional combat units in the fields. Additionally, there were huge gaps left in 2014 when the coalition curtailed air support services after government forces took over war-fighting responsibilities crippling military’s ability to provide air support. Under the new plan, the private contractors will be entrenched with Afghanistan’s more than 90 combat troops throughout the country.
Erick Prince, the former Navy Seal Officer and founder of the Blackwater USA claims that engaging contractors in the war would cost effective, saving the American taxpayers billions each year. It is approximated that the plan will cost $10biliion a year, $30 billion less than what the Pentagon has budgeted for this year. Trump is appealed by the innovative idea, which he hopes will end the belligerent 16-year old war.
However, the engagement of XE Services and the involvement of Prince will spur international controversy following Blackwater’s incidence in 2007 where four security personnel were accused of killing 14 innocent Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. The appeal courts have already nullified a murder conviction for one of the guards and ordered the other three to be re-sentenced. Moreover, Price is purported to be the brother of Trump’s education secretary, Betsy Devos, thus drawing further controversy if the plan is aimed at benefiting a certain group of administration officials in Trumps government.