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Mattis is out, and Blackwater is back: ‘We are coming’

Published: December 21, 2018
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Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is out.

Mattis' resignation comes amid news that President Donald Trump has directed the drawdown of 2,000 U.S. forces in Syria, and 7,000 U.S. forces from Afghanistan, a U.S. official confirmed to Military Times, a story first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

This month, in the January/February print issue of the gun and hunting magazine “Recoil," the former contractor security firm Blackwater USA published a full-page ad, in all black with a simple message: “We are coming.”

Is the war in Afghanistan — and possibly elsewhere ― about to be privatized?

If Blackwater returns, it would be the return of a private security contractor that was banned from Iraq, but re-branded and never really went away. By 2016 Blackwater had been re-branded several times and was known at the time as Constellis Group, when it was purchased by the Apollo Holdings Group. Reuters reported earlier this year that Apollo had put Constellis up for sale, but in June the sale was put on hold.

Blackwater’s founder and former CEO Erik Prince has courted President Donald Trump’s administration since he took office with the idea that the now 17-year Afghan War will never be won by a traditional military campaign. Prince has also argued that the logistical footprint required to support that now multi-trillion dollar endeavor has become too burdensome. Over the summer and into this fall Prince has engaged heavily with the media to promote the privatization; particularly as the Trump administration’s new South Asia Strategy, which was crafted with Mattis, passed the one-year mark.

Prince has no connection to the current Constellis group; if Blackwater does return to operations, it is not clear what, if any tie, Prince would have to the endeavor.

Constellis, which had maintained a footprint at Camp Integrity by the Kabul Airport through its previous iteration as “Academi” has leased land at the facility to hold another 800 personnel, Military Times learned.

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