In May 2017, Erik Prince, a former Navy Seal and founder of private military contractor Blackwater USA, pitched an idea to President Donald Trump that he should consider using private military contractors (PMCs), another name for â€œmercenaries,â€ in Afghanistan.
Prince, whose sister is Trumpâ€™s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, detailed his plan in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. Calling his the â€œMacArthur Modelâ€ after famous World War II and Korean War Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Prince noted that the war has cost America trillions with no appreciable gains some 17 years after President George W. Bush invaded in the aftermath of 9/11.
Hereâ€™s a synopsis of what he suggested to the president:
â€” â€œFirst, he should consolidate authority in Afghanistan with one person: an American viceroy who would lead all U.S. government and coalition effortsâ€”including command, budget, policy, promotion and contractingâ€”and report directly to the presidentâ€¦. A better approach would resemble Gen. Douglas MacArthurâ€™s leadership of postwar Japan. Given clear multiyear authority, MacArthur made bold moves like repealing restrictive speech laws and granting property rights. Those directives moved Japan ahead by centuries.â€
â€” â€œSecond, Mr. Trump should authorize his viceroy to set rules of engagement in collaboration with the elected Afghan government to make better decisions, faster. Troops fighting for their lives should not have to ask a lawyer sitting in air conditioning 500 miles away for permission to drop a bomb.â€
â€” â€œThird, we must build the capacity of Afghanistanâ€™s security forces the effective and proven way, instead of spending billions more pursuing the â€˜idealâ€™ way.â€
What is the ideal way?
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