From the August 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Our next guest is urging the president to rethink his strategy and replace U.S. military personnel with a smaller group of civilian contractors and special forces operators in the civilian world. So, could this shakeup finally turn a page in America's longest war? Here to discuss is former Navy SEAL and founder of Blackwater USA, Erik Prince.
ERIK PRINCE (FOUNDER, BLACKWATER USA): It's not a privatization, it's really a rationalization. Right now, you have 15,000 U.S. troops and 30,000 contractors. By going back to a small footprint that worked, you put mentors, basically special forces veterans, they go back as contractors, and attach to each Afghan unit. They live with, train with, and fight with. (period) You support them with air power that shows up reliably, which is not the case now.
PRINCE: The president should appoint a special envoy, someone that's like a bankruptcy trustee. Because, if you can't call almost $2 trillion in spending and 17 years of losses to the Taliban a bankruptcy situation, I don't know what is. If he appoints a special envoy, one person that the president can hold in charge, give them the Title 50 authorities, like when we went in after 9/11, it was the agency with the military supporting the CIA that worked.
KILMEADE: So you believe you have the men and women right now, they are members of NATO -- NATO nations, and Americans?
PRINCE: U.S. or NATO, correct.
KILMEADE: You have them on the roster?
PRINCE: The plan would send U.S. special forces veterans and NATO combat veterans back into Afghanistan, because we fix the continuity issue. Right now, for the last 17 years, the U.S. has sent units, they deploy there for 8 months. They spend a couple months getting to know the area, they're productive for a few months, they spend the last two months getting ready to go home and making sure everyone is safe. They lift that unit up, send it back, send a new one in, and repeat. We've done that 30 times now, so there is no continuity.
Going to a mentor contract model, I can put that same guy in there for years at a time. In the same valley with the same unit. They know the terrain, they know the locals and they build the confidence of the local units.
KILMEADE: How much does it cost?
PRINCE: It costs about 15 percent of what we're spending now.
PRINCE: The military industrial complex is real. OK? The very unhealthy loop of massive spending on the Pentagon into wasteful wars, recycled back into political campaigns is a problem on both right and left. The president rightly campaigned on ending endless wars. This is America's longest war, it's the first time we've had the kids of soldiers now fighting. Kids that were toddlers when the Towers fell here in New York, now fighting and dying there.
KILMEADE: How long would it take to you win?
PRINCE: Winning looks like a long-term presence on a descending scale. So, it's a year and a half, to two years of continued structural support. If you turn -- look, Afghanistan has significant natural resources. The Taliban is making money from it, none of the legitimate miners are. You set security in those areas, you can actually turn on those parts of the economy. Sadly, the Soviet Union did a much better job of developing the economy, the oil and gas, and the resources there. Afghanistan is sitting on huge amounts of rare earth elements, which is what's needed for the American manufacturing industry, especially in high tech sectors.