Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is out.
Mattis’ resignation comes amid news that President Donald Trump has directed the drawdown of 2,000 U.S. forces in Syria, and 7,000 U.S. forces from Afghanistan, a U.S. official confirmed to Military Times, a story first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
This month, in the January/February print issue of the gun and hunting magazine “Recoil,” the former contractor security firm Blackwater USA published a full-page ad, in all black with a simple message: “We are coming.”
Is the war in Afghanistan — and possibly elsewhere ― about to be privatized?
If Blackwater returns, it would be the return of a private security contractor that was banned from Iraq, but re-branded and never really went away.
By 2016 Blackwater had been re-branded 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.
Blackwater’s founder and former CEO Erik Princehas courted President Donald Trump’s administration since he took office with the idea that the now 17-year Afghan War will never be won by a traditional military campaign.
Prince has also argued that the logistical footprint required to support that now multi-trillion dollar endeavor has become too burdensome.
Over the summer and into this fall Prince has engaged heavily with the media to promote the privatization; particularly as the Trump administration’s new South Asia Strategy, which was crafted with Mattis, passed the one-year mark.
Prince has no connection to the current Constellis group; if Blackwater does return to operations, it is not clear what, if any tie, Prince would have to the endeavor.
Constellis, which had maintained a footprint at Camp Integrity by the Kabul Airport through its previous iteration as “Academi” has leased land at the facility to hold another 800 personnel, Military Times learned.
The news of a leaning on a smaller number of privatized forces, instead of a larger U.S. military footprint — and contracted support for U.S. forces that knew few bounds and at times included coffee shops, base exchanges, restaurants, a hockey rink and local vendor shops — may be welcomed by current U.S. 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 previous exclusive interview with Military Times, Prince said he would scrap the NATO mission there and replace the estimated 23,000 forces in country with a force of 6,000 contracted personnel and 2,000 active-duty special forces.
The potential privatization of the Afghan War was previously dismissed by the White House, and roundly criticized by Mattis, who saw it as a risk to emplace the nation’s national security goals in the hands of contractors.
“When Americans put their nation’s credibility on the line, privatizing it is probably not a wise idea,” Mattis told reporters in August.
But Mattis is out now, one in a series of moves that has surprised most of the Pentagon.
Drastic change would “be more likely” now, one DOD official said.
Reblogged from source with thanks @ www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/12/21/mattis-is-out-and-