Skip to main content

August 15, 2021
Exclusive: Erik Prince Blames Afghanistan Debacle on ‘Cosplay National Security Apparatus’ that Believes ‘Their Own BS’

(The article first appeared in the Tennessee Star:

By: Neil W. McCabe, Media Fellow

The Founder of the Blackwater private security firm and the author of a comprehensive plan to save Afghanistan by shifting the country’s security to private contractors and away from the American military told The Star News Network on Sunday he warned U.S. diplomats the government of President Ashraf Ghani would fall before Labor Day.

“I told a number of ambassadors in the region there; they should expect a collapse of Kabul by Labor Day, and I said that back in April, based on when the U.S. air pressure, when the Air Force really stopped bombing, when that threat largely disappears, then the Taliban would be able to group and mass as they have done, and then they start blowing up cities,” said Erik Prince, the Navy SEAL veteran and national security entrepreneur.

“It’s a very predictable outcome that all these smart people in the military didn’t pass that kind of information off the chain of command so that the president even last month makes as dumb a statement as he does,” Prince said.

“We have a cosplay national security apparatus that sits and talks to itself into believing their own B.S., and sadly, the Taliban are feeding into us at the end of the bayonet right now,” he said. The term “cosplay” is defined by as “the art or practice of wearing costumes to portray characters from fiction, especially manga, animation, and science fiction.”

“This is not rocket science, but it’s a failure of imagination,” he said.

“It’s a failure to look at history to see what’s worked by our conventional military leadership and utter an abysmal failure,” he said. “The Afghan army has lasted a couple of weeks. The government built by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan lasted four years after the Russians pulled their forces out, four years not two weeks.”

Prince said once Taliban forces started rolling up provincial capitals, they could not be stopped by the Afghanistan government.

“The continued Taliban victories have certainly given them a very key element in the military success, and that’s momentum,” he said. “It certainly caused a lot of paralysis. When that momentum causes fear amongst the defending population and a few links in their chain suddenly disappear, they lack the resiliency, and so it all goes apart quickly.”

Kabul falling as it did will have a long-term negative impact on America’s reputation, he said.

“It will have second and third-order effects because everyone that thinks that they’re an ally of the United States is going to look at us today,” he said. “The United States walked out of there, like a bad one-night stand, and: ‘They just left us hanging.’”

In 2017, Prince presented a comprehensive plan to senior military and diplomatic leaders in Washington, which would have private military contractor personnel take over the Pentagon’s advise and assist mission with Afghanistan’s security forces.

The plan was rejected in favor of a mini-surge of 8,400 additional troops to Afghanistan proposed by National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Harold R. “H.R.” McMaster and backed by Vice President Michael R. Pence approved by President Donald J. Trump in August 2017.

According to Politico, McMaster rehearsed his presentation with Pence while blocking Prince from meeting Trump to make his pitch.

The purpose of the McMaster plan was to create a permissive environment for U.S. forces to leave the country in the hands of Afghanistan’s security forces as Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters continued to resist the U.S.-backed regime.

Despite the machinations of McMaster, Prince said he was able to get his plan to Trump and others, but he could not overcome the national security bureaucracy’s inertia.

“What I recommended in very clear written terms to President Trump, to H.R. McMaster, to Mattis, to the CIA, was a specific plan to give a, call it a skeletal structure support, to the Afghan forces to give them some resiliency they could depend on at a very cheap price compared to the cost of all the U.S. active-duty presence and very, very expensive logistics,” he said.

The three elements of the Prince Plan: Mentors, Air Power and Logistics

Prince said the first part of his plan was to break the cycle of constantly changing U.S. military partners assigned to work with Afghanistan’s military units with teams of military veteran contractor personnel attached to each Afghanistan battalion for three to four years.

The Hillsdale College graduate said he based his plan on the lessons learned from the successful long-term mentorship of U.S. special operations personnel provided to Afghanistan’s commandos.

“The only part of the Afghan army that’s demonstrated a willingness and ability to fight is the Afghan commandos because they were trained by the U.S. special operations counterparts, and that worked,” he said.

“All I was doing in taking the mentor model to the Afghan army is replicating what’s worked with the Afghan commandos, that being attaching, would have been 36 men mentor teams so that they had enough so that whenever that Afghan battalion was deployed somewhere, there would be enough,” Prince said.

“These mentors would make sure the key enablers were provided leadership, intelligence, communications, medical, and logistics expertise,” he said.

Because of the constant nine-month rotation of U.S. military units and personnel, he said there is no follow-up over time and no time for proper bonding between the mentors and their charges.

In effect, he said that each rotation had become its own new war with new people and new tactics.

“We’ve had 33 rotations at least,” said the former SEAL officer, who left the service upon the 1995 passing of his father Edgar D. Prince, an engineer and industrialist, whose businesses included die-cast machines and auto parts.

“I would have contracted guys that would have gone and stayed in the same area for three and four years,” he said. “They go in for 90 days, come home for 30. Back in for 60, home for 30.”

The goal is to create tactical stability, said the author of “Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror” about his groundbreaking creation of the private security industry.

“Always rotating to the same unit in the same terrain, so they get to know the area, Prince said. “They know who’s good, who’s bad, but the Afghan unit members see them, trust them, brothers in arms,” and that would have, I say with 100 percent assurance, the mentors, in place, attached, living with, training with, and fighting alongside that entire Afghan conventional army, would have greatly enhanced their willingness to fight, especially when the second part is provided and that being air power.”

Prince: Airpower means tactical support, medical support to fighters on the ground

“I would have provided 90 aircraft. I used to have 50 of my own aircraft in Afghanistan doing support for the U.S. forces,” said the native of Holland, Michigan. “Doing food, and fuel, and movement, and medevac, surveillance, et cetera, providing those aircraft that show up reliably with no excuse.”

Prince said as a private company with a no-fail contract; he could have provided air support for the entire country.

“We would have provided close air support on 30-minute notice from anywhere, from the bases we would have staged, to anywhere in the country, so from a maximum of 30 minutes lag time between someone calling for help, having aircraft with the ordinance, overhead and ready to go,” he said.

Prince said he would train each of the private contractor military mentors as joint terminal attack controllers, or JTAC, technicians capable of talking to aircrews with targeting information and other data from the ground.

One of the reasons the regular Afghanistan soldier was under-motivated to fight was the lack of battlefield casualty care, he said.

“To one year, three years, 10 years ago, you were seven times as likely to die if you’re an Afghan that got wounded,” Prince said.

“Afghan soldiers just lost confidence in the whole system because their supply wasn’t coming, their pay wouldn’t show up, they wouldn’t have food, and worst of all, they wouldn’t get the ammunition,” he said.

A tragic example of this was the Taliban’s June 16 ambush and massacre of 24 Afghanistan commandos and five local police officers in Farah Province. No aircraft were sent to help, rescue, resupply or medevac the men as the insurgents pinned them down.

“They were slaughtered after running out of ammunition,” he said. “They begged and pleaded, calling for help, calling Kabul news media, T.V. stations, begging for someone to help them, and no one came. That’s how you destroy the mor