Trump ‘wants to privatise’ Afghan war

Trump ‘wants to privatise’ Afghan war, by Catherine Philp.

Donald Trump is considering replacing US troops in Afghanistan with mercenaries, according to the man behind the idea.

Erik Prince said the President regretted the decision not to privatise the war when the Pentagon ­reviewed its Afghan strategy last year. He claimed that Mr Trump had felt constrained by the political fallout over the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville that resulted in one death and several injuries, prompting him to accept his generals’ recommendation that he send more troops to Afghanistan and avoid further controversy. …

The businessman’s plan envisages withdrawing 15,000 US troops from Afghanistan to replace them with a private force of 8,000 alongside Afghan forces with privatised air support.

Mr Prince argues that this would slash the $US70 billion ($97.6bn) annual cost of the war. His fear is that “exhaustion among the departments is such that they will just try to negotiate a way and make some kind of deal with the Taliban and walk away. And if that’s the case there will be helicopters off the rooftop of the US embassy in Kabul just like there was in Saigon in 1975.”

The US held its first face-to-face talks with the Taliban in Qatar this northern summer in a renewed attempt to reach a diplomatic solution. Mr Prince, however, said other talks with different Taliban factions, not previously disclosed, had shown more promise and that making peace would require a mosaic of negotiations with groups across the country.

hat-tip Stephen Neil