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A Private Military
Townhall.com ^ | October 25, 2017 | John Stossel

Posted on 10/25/2017 4:58:25 AM PDT by Kaslin

We've fought in Afghanistan for 16 years now. Are we making progress?

After 9/11, we invaded, overthrew the Taliban, killed Osama Bin Laden and -- stayed. Afghanistan is now America's longest war, ever.

President Trump's solution? He'll send several thousand more soldiers.

Erik Prince says he has a better idea -- fight terrorists with only 2,000 American Special Operations personnel, plus "a contractor force" of 6,000.

Prince is the founder of Blackwater, the private military contractor.

The military uses contractors to provide security, deliver mail, rescue soldiers and more. Private contractors often do jobs well, for much less than the government would spend.

"We did a helicopter resupply mission," Prince told me. "We showed up with two helicopters and eight people -- the Navy was doing it with 35 people."

I asked, "Why would the Navy use 35 people?"

Prince answered, "The admiral that says, 'I need 35 people to do that mission,' didn't pay for them. When you get a free good, you use a lot more of it."

Prince also claims the military is slow to adjust. In Afghanistan, it's "using equipment designed to fight the Soviet Union, (not ideal) for finding enemies living in caves or operating from a pickup truck."

I suggested that the government eventually adjusts.

"No, they do not," answered Prince. "In 16 years of warfare, the army never adjusted how they do deployments -- never made them smaller and more nimble. You could actually do all the counter-insurgency missions over Afghanistan with propeller-driven aircraft."

So far, Trump has ignored Prince's advice. I assume he, like many people, is skeptical of military contractors. The word "mercenary" has a bad reputation.

But private contractors have fought for America since America began. Jamestown, Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies all hired private security. During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress authorized "privateers" -- privately owned boats -- to fight British ships.

Before America officially entered World War II, some American pilots made money privately fighting the Japanese. Those "Flying Tigers" were called heroes. John Wayne made a movie about them.

"Markets have a way of providing things when government can't," says Prince.

But contracting is no panacea. The Congressional Budget Office says that although they save the government money during times of peace, during war "costs of a private security contract are comparable with those of a U.S. military unit."

Economist Tyler Cowen points out that private contractors may make the real pain of war less apparent. In Iraq, says Cowen, "use of contractors may have helped to make an ill-advised venture possible."

And in Iraq, Prince's employees killed civilians. Four Blackwater employees were eventually convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

Prince replied, "The guys did more than a hundred thousand missions, protective missions, in dangerous war zones. In less than one half of 1 percent of all those missions did the guys ever discharge a firearm."

Government has its own record of mistakes, civilian deaths and war crimes, too.

In 2010, Prince sold his security firm and moved on to other projects.

He persuaded the United Arab Emirates to fund a private anti-pirate force in Somalia. The U.N. called that a "brazen violation" of its arms embargo, but Prince went ahead anyway.

His mercenaries attacked pirates whenever they came near shore. His private army, plus merchant ships finally arming themselves, largely ended piracy in that part of the world. In 2010, Somali pirates took more than a thousand hostages. In 2014, they captured none.

Did you even hear about that success? I hadn't before doing research on Prince. The media don't like to report good things about for-profit soldiers. Commentator Keith Olbermann called Blackwater "a full-fledged criminal enterprise." One TV anchor called Prince "horrible ... the poster child for everything wrong with the military-industrial complex."

When I showed that to Prince, he replied, "the hardcore anti-war left went after the troops in Vietnam ... (I)n Iraq and Afghanistan they went after contractors ... contractors providing a good service to support the U.S. military -- vilified, demonized, because they were for-profit companies."

If we don't use private contractors, he added, we will fail in Afghanistan, where we've "spent close to a trillion dollars and are still losing."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: afghanistan; blackwater; ericprince; mic; military

1 posted on 10/25/2017 4:58:25 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
Interesting, and from a purely cost/effect perspective, logical.

There are dangers, of course: as contractors, a private entity, they nonetheless represent us but without the UCMJ to control them. Whatever they do, they do in our name and the US, not the private leadership will get the blame if they screw up.

Training and proficiency are a wild card too - how much say will our government have over inept or irresponsible units?

The bigger issue is that we have gone from a "Citizen Army" filled out by a draft to include all sectors of our society, to a volunteer force which is made up of fewer than 1% of the eligible men and now includes young ladies, deviants, and even people who can't figure out what bathroom to use...now they are being supplanted by civilian hired guns and I would guess, machines, eventually.

What does that portend for our country? How much contact or involvement will the most of us have with the wars that protect us and our allies? What will happen to that thin base of experience that we have even now to know how to handles, fights, emergencies?

Anybody pay attention to that massacre in Las Vegas? If we'd had any semblance of military experience, the crowds wouldn't have packed together on the ground in a fat target - they would have sought cover, killed those spotlights that were illuminating them, found the site that pervert was shooting from and maybe a few would have gotten a weapon and engaged him.

Like the Romans before us, we are becoming comfortable cattle.

2 posted on 10/25/2017 5:23:24 AM PDT by Chainmail (A simple rule of life: if you can be blamed, you're responsible.)
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To: Kaslin

This guy is awesome, total Patriot.

The amount of misery the US government has forced him to put up with is astonishing.

his contracts were far beyond the size of a d ring binder and covered even such niggling details as the type of sunglasses The Operators would wear.

State Department employees would never go stealthy by riding in battered local Vehicles, instead they always insisted on high-profile spotless shiny vehicles that said “Attack me!”

often they also insisted on departing via the same route that they arrived, tactically very unsound.

he had to put up a garbage like that all the time.

In return for perfect performance the US government constantly sued him harassed him and constantly tried to prosecute his guys.

Read his book and you will find that every time the US government is mentioned you’ll feel like you have a massive migraine headache coming on.


3 posted on 10/25/2017 5:29:52 AM PDT by gaijin
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To: Kaslin

Is this the guy who said he was going to run for Congress? WY, ID, somewhere out west?


4 posted on 10/25/2017 5:33:31 AM PDT by workerbee (America finally has an American president again.)
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To: Chainmail

I think the US Department of State misused to some extend, via their Annex’s, the contractors for intelligence missions, rather their primary support roles. Of course I understand our Intel agencies have rent-a-players but my time in the middle east made me wonder. To a greater extent the DoS relies heavily on SF teams to keep airports and other avenues of regress, and to keep to some extend their eyes open for the evil Iran-Syrian-NK-Russian nexus (Venezuela) for fomenting the Revolution. We don’t see or hear about contractor body bags....


5 posted on 10/25/2017 5:36:47 AM PDT by Jumper
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To: Jumper

The military is made up of volunteers who didn’t necessarily sign up for the Middle East. This is cheaper. Like the French Foreign Legion who were mostly misfits.


6 posted on 10/25/2017 5:41:53 AM PDT by DIRTYSECRET (urope. Why do they put up with this.)
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To: Kaslin
The US Constitution mentions Letters of Marque, which are usually understood to involve ships (privateers). But the original meaning is broader. From Wikipedia:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of "letters of marque and reprisal" was in an English statute in 1354 during the reign of Edward III. The phrase referred to "a licen[c]e granted by a sovereign to a subject, authorizing him to make reprisals on the subjects of a hostile state for injuries alleged to have been done to him by the enemy's army."

One has to worry about war crimes, I suppose, but I do support the notion of mercenaries for focused action rather than "boots on the ground" leading to long-term "nation-building". I say get in, get out -- and break things and kill people as cheaply as possibly.

7 posted on 10/25/2017 5:52:35 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Benedict McCain is the worst traitor ever to wear the uniform of the US military.)
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To: Chainmail
This would be a complete disaster, and I have to question the sanity of this guy for a number of reasons.

Erik Prince says he has a better idea -- fight terrorists with only 2,000 American Special Operations personnel, plus "a contractor force" of 6,000.

For that matter, let's ditch the 2,000 U.S. military personnel and just go with a Blackwater "contractor force" of 8,000.

And while that's going on, another "contractor force" of 8,000 from a competing contractor (let's call them Bluewater) will sign up to fight for the Taliban.

If it sounds crazy, just realize that this Erik Prince guy lists Dubai as one of his homes. And he's looking around the U.S. for a state where he can run for the U.S. Senate? This guy is a neo-con globalist right up there with the worst of them.

8 posted on 10/25/2017 6:08:43 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("Tell them to stand!" -- President Trump, 9/23/2017)
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To: Chainmail

When a State relies on mercs to fight its wars, they are in trouble. The Mercs eventually start taking over the State.

We will regret this.


9 posted on 10/25/2017 6:10:21 AM PDT by redgolum
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To: workerbee
I found this.

Blackwater Founder Weighing Senate Run in Wyoming

Please note that I have no idea how reliable Newser is.

Then there is also this from the New York Slimes.

Erik Prince, Blackwater Founder, Weighs Primary Challenge to Wyoming Republican

10 posted on 10/25/2017 6:17:08 AM PDT by Kaslin (Politicians are not born; they are excreted -Civilibus nati sunt; sunt excernitur. (Cicero))
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To: Chainmail
The fundamental cause of our failure in Afghanistan is the same one as the Soviets: the attempt to create a strong central government in Kabul when there is zero constituency for such a regime.

The Pashto don't want it, the Shiites don't want it, the warlords don't want it, the opium growers don't want it, etc./

Only we want it, which pushes the others into the arms of the Taliban.

11 posted on 10/25/2017 7:25:31 AM PDT by pierrem15 ("Massacrez-les, car le seigneur connait les siens")
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To: Kaslin

There would need to be some very strict ground rules about such a force.

1) It would *have* to be offshore, with likely its own Caribbean island, and possibly one in an African enclave leased for the purpose. By being offshore, non-Americans could serve in it, under US NCOs and Officers.

2) It would be limited to just light infantry, with some light wheeled armored vehicles like Humvees and Strykers. Their transport, logistics, communications and emergency support would be provided by the US military.

3) Their main purpose would involve *low* intensity missions, like humanitarian aid, guard duties, minimal peacekeeping, establishing local infrastructure protection in support of military engineer units, etc. The idea being that they cost just a fraction of military personnel for these often protracted missions.

4) They would operate under contract, which they could turn down, with the US military, as uniformed personnel under US Operational Control (and Geneva protections). This means that a POTUS (or a particularly bad POTUS) could not order them to carry out missions they did not voluntarily contract to do. And if they were detained for potentially criminal offenses, while the detention could be done by the military, they would have to be turned over to a civilian court for indictment and trial.

5) They could only operate in countries, like the US military, that had bilateral agreements with the US against the ICC.

6) Any captured militants, or refugees, under their control would be turned over to the US military as soon as possibles.

In the final analysis, the purpose of this is to save a lot of money, and not having the US military to be degraded while carrying out such low intensity, protracted missions.


12 posted on 10/25/2017 7:51:06 AM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy (Hitlers Mein Kampf, translated into Arabic, is "My Jihad")
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To: Kaslin

Issue ‘Letters of Marque’ and let’em go to town. If they step out of line or go beyond their scope then rescind the letter. Letters could be by geographic region or by bad-guy organization. Same goes for the pirates in the Red Sea/Indian O off the Horn of Africa. Hell of a lot more cost effective.


13 posted on 10/25/2017 8:56:16 AM PDT by reed13k
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To: redgolum

The problems we have is that American men lost their sense of duty and the American people have no concept what our position in the world requires.

Ever since Vietnam, the vast majority of young men see military duty and the risking of lives as “somebody elses problem”. They have better things to do. It’s left to the bare 1% to suffer through the training, the deployments, and sometimes, death.

We are a “superpower” which means that everyone else wants what we have and would only be to happy to see us obliterated. We have to fight people in crappy places so we don’t have to fight them here. Wars, particularly wars where we are trying to protect innocent bystanders take years, decades to win. We are still hanging around Japan and Germany 70 years after WWII because even full-time general wars take a long time to finish.

Now we have 99% of our men that don’t have military skills, don’t know how to fight as a team, and worst, don’t know if they had what it takes.


14 posted on 10/25/2017 12:17:42 PM PDT by Chainmail (A simple rule of life: if you can be blamed, you're responsible.)
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To: Chainmail

I agree. When I reported for induction into the USN on December 14, 1967 for four years of active duty, most of the guys were going into the army—maybe a couple of hundred— and there were only 50 of us headed to Navy boot camps. At zero eight hundred, a hidden door opened behind a partition and a humongous black gunnery sarge with shiny bald head bellowed “Listen up! When I come out to you army guys, I’ll tap every other one of you and you are going to be U.S. Marines.” Guys were urinating in their bell bottoms and I said a silent prayer that I had signed up for four instead of letting the chips fall for only two.

None of us really liked it but we just did it. Because our male ancestors had fought. Some of our fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins. We did it because we were citizens of the USA and with all the blessings that conferred, there were also the responsibilities. I bet not a one of us even gave a thought to getting the G.I. Bill to pay for college after (and if) we made it through or getting a VA guaranteed mortgage or VA health care. From what I hear from the younger generations, it’s not so much like that any more.


15 posted on 10/25/2017 12:27:54 PM PDT by VietVet876
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To: VietVet876
You're absolutely right: none of us liked giving our freedom for those years but it's what our previous generations of American men did for our country.

I'm proud of us - and I hope the next generation regains that spirit. We need it if we're going to survive as a country.

Seriously, aren't you just a little bit sorry that the Gunny didn't grab you? The Corps was a kick!

16 posted on 10/25/2017 6:10:56 PM PDT by Chainmail (A simple rule of life: if you can be blamed, you're responsible.)
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