United States’ Maybe Contemplating the Privatization of Afghanistan’s Security

10-08-2017

Zeeshan Javed
Research Fellow
South Asian Strategic Stability Institute

The Trump administration may be contemplating the handing over of security matters of Afghanistan to private security companies. The change of regime in the United States has provided a renewed view of the Afghanistan conundrum. Even during the Presidential Election Campaign of Trump there was a huge emphasis laid on the domestic affairs of the US; however the foreign policy of Trump was always ambiguous. This has also been reflected in his first 100 days of government. Afghanistan has been a key area of America’s foreign policy matters for the last decade and a half. Conversely, Trump has been unable to finalize his policy regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan which has agitated Pentagon and the Defence Establishment.

 

There are reports that Trump might be considering sending private security companies in Afghanistan. Due to Trump’s hesitancy in sending American troops into Afghanistan, private security companies may become his next choice. There have been meeting between Erik Prince and Trump’s aides. It should be remembered that Prince was the CEO and founder of the private security company, Blackwater. Erik Prince has been a vocal critic of the US’ policy of counterterrorism in Afghanistan under Obama. Also, it must be noted that Obama was not encouraging of letting private security companies gain a prominent presence. Due to this, private security companies were mostly relegated to nominal tasks such as the provision of logistics and supplies in Iraq. However, Trump presents a different set of opportunities for private security companies. As Trump hails from a successful business family, he appreciates the opportune investments that surface. Also, he will be much more open minded about such trends because such practices of outsourcing are a common practice in the business world. This is further illustrated by Prince’s proposal to Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan President, which included the leasing of a private air force for security purposes. If such decisions are taken by Trump it will help him relieve himself of having to conduct an effective Afghanistan policy.

 

The American people are not in favor of continuing the war and Trump will face resistance from within the U.S. if the presence of troops is increased in Afghanistan. Therefore, by pulling out American troops and replacing them with Private Security, Trump will be able to gain political mileage while at the same time he will be able to retain some sort of presence in Afghanistan. Having said this, it must also be noted that such proposals will be vehemently opposed by Pentagon and the right-wing segment of the population. They will propose the sending of American troops in order to quell the militancy in Afghanistan. It deserves to be seen if Trump will take a stand in supporting private military firms in Afghanistan or will he follow the more traditional route of increasing troop presence in Afghanistan.