Homeland Security

Taliban Needle Trump on Potential 'Big Mistake' in Afghanistan After Killing 2 U.S. Soldiers

An Afghan policeman guards the site where a suicide bomber struck a NATO convoy in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Aug. 2, 2017. (AP Photo)

The Taliban warned President Trump that outsourcing the Afghanistan war to private contractors would be a “big mistake” on the day news broke that Trump railed at commanders for the progress of the conflict and reportedly pressed for Gen. John Nicholson to be replaced as Resolute Support commander.

The terror group took responsibility for a Wednesday suicide car bombing on a NATO convoy in Kandahar Province in which two U.S. soldiers were killed and four wounded. Nine U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year, equal to the total in all of 2016.

As the Taliban historically inflate casualty totals, they claimed 15 U.S. soldiers were killed in the attack.

During a July 19 meeting with Defense Secretary James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and other officials, Trump “repeatedly” suggested getting rid of Nicholson because the U.S. isn’t winning, according to NBC News, and “inquired about the United States getting a piece of Afghan’s mineral wealth.” Trump has not met Nicholson.

Mattis reportedly told Trump that the U.S. isn’t gaining as much ground as it should because it lacks the necessary strategy. Officials told the network they were hoping Trump would sign off on a new strategy at the meeting. “Trump compared the policy review process to the renovation of a famed New York restaurant in the 1980s… officials said Trump kept stressing the idea that lousy advice cost the owner a year of lost business and that talking to the restaurant’s waiters instead might have yielded a better result.”

Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater USA (now called Academi) and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has submitted a proposal to the White House for contracting out the Afghanistan war. He told NPR late last month that his plan would send in contractors “that will embed and live with those Afghan forces” to “provide them with the key enablers – leadership, intelligence, communications, medical and logistics support – so that those units – at the battalion level, really where the rubber meets the road in Afghanistan – have the kind of professional support they need at each unit.”

Prince said he was told his idea “at least struck some curiosity” with Trump. “And I think it stimulated some debate at least for how do we do – how do we go forward in Afghanistan because the same 45 billion – I think they asked for 50-plus billion dollars next year,” he said. “I don’t think the White House has a huge appetite to spend that kind of money when American infrastructure could use that money much more effectively.”

The contractor also predicted that if the U.S. pulls out completely, “the Afghan government would likely collapse in a matter of weeks and the terrorists would run the country.”

In a statement on their English-language website, the Taliban noted that “notorious” firms are “lobbying the Trump administration to fully privatize the Afghan war” and “want Pentagon to sign a contract to allow dispatch of hired killers to Afghanistan to conduct the war.”

“Matter of fact is that America had had civilian and military contractors in Afghanistan over the past years with their numbers surpassing 110,000 in 2012. Currently there are 25,000 contractors in the country but that has never led to success on the ground. America should not forget this bitter experience,” the Taliban said. “If America believes perpetration of brutalities against the Afghans and terrorizing them will guarantee success on the battlefield or that it can be won through injection of hired killers, it will be another big mistake on the part of America.”

The terror group called the situation “akin to a sinking person who clings to every straw for survival but it does not benefit him the least.”

“Everyone is now aware that the slogan of terrorism in Afghanistan is a mere pretext and America in fact seeks colonization of the country, exploitation of its natural resources and transformation of our country into a military outpost against the regional countries,” the statement added.

“Hence we would like to tell the Americans that you are not going to win the war in Afghanistan by resorting to oppression, injustice and hiring killers of Black Water and other private security firms but you will certainly prolong the war at the cost of immense human and material resources. You have to come around to this hard fact that Afghanistan is not a commodity without an owner. The heroes of Islamic beliefs and independence still exist in this country.”

The Taliban also called on Afghans to “ramp up your support to the jihadic efforts of their group as enemies have lost their morale and all their plans have gone awry.”

In a 2016 Asia Foundation survey, 93 percent of Afghans said they feared encounters with the Taliban. Girls who were banned from attending school by the Taliban now account for 39 percent of students, and 74 percent of Afghans support women working outside the home, which was also banned by the Taliban.