Erik Prince, the founder of the Blackwater security firm, told USA Today that the White House is actively considering a plan to privatize the Afghan War. According to Prince, the trump administration is actively considering the unprecedented plan. This comes as the United States is approaching the 16th anniversary of the invasion of the country on October 7th.

The optics of privatizing the war in Afghanistan

The proposal that the White House is looking at would have 5,500 private contractors, who would mostly be former Special Operations forces, advise and assist Afghan combat forces.

On top of this, the plan also calls for a 90-plane private air force whose job it would be to provide air support for government forces against Taliban insurgents.

This all comes at a time when the American-backed Afghan military is facing a stalemate in the war and President Donald Trump is growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress. The American military still has 84,000 troops in Afghanistan to help train and guide local forces, although they do not have a direct combat role. Assuming that this plan was to be put in motion, it is likely that American troops would be replaced gradually by these private contractors.

Not everyone in the White House supports the plan

Prince, who founded Blackwater in 1997 and sold it in 2010, is a strong backer of the plan, as is chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Blackwater worked extensively during the Afghan and Iraq wars. While he has no official role in the Trump administration, Prince said that he argued for the plan since a conventional military approach has not worked.

He also said that the plan would cost under $10 billion a year, compared to the current $40 billion the Pentagon is spending.

However, the key military men in the White House have serious misgivings about the plan. National security advisor H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis are opposed to it.

Control of Afghanistan is at a stalemate

According to the most recent quarterly report done by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the insurgents, which include the Taliban and a growing ISIS presence, maintain a large presence.

The SIGAR report was submitted on July 30, with the information mentioned being updated as of May 15, which can be found on page 88 of the report.

Insurgents still control 16.2% of the land in Afghanistan and contest 21% of it with the government. They also control or influence 45 of the country's 407 districts (9.2% of the population). Also, there are 119 districts contested between the insurgents and the government, representing 29.2% of the population. The stalemate between the insurgents and the government has continued, with no changes since SIGAR's last report on April 30th.