Mattis rejects plan to privatize military effort in Afghanistan

Mattis rejects plan to privatize military effort in Afghanistan
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Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents Does ‘limited war’ mean limited risks for aggressors? US-led coalition says it struck Syrian mosque used by ISIS MORE on Tuesday shot down recently recirculated plans to privatize combat efforts in Afghanistan.

“When the Americans put their nation’s credibility on the line, privatizing it is probably not a wise idea,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

The former head of U.S. Central Command did not mention by name Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder who in recent weeks has shopped a plan to replace most U.S. troops in Afghanistan with private contractors.

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Mattis had been asked if there was an advantage to privatizing forces if there are going to be boots on the ground in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future.

About 14,000 U.S. military personnel are currently in Afghanistan to counter terrorist groups including the Taliban, al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as well as to train and assist Afghan forces.

More than 3,000 troops were added to the fight after President TrumpDonald John TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is 'clear abuse of presidential power' O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE in August 2017 announced a new strategy to turn around the war, which top generals had compared to a stalemate at the time.

Mattis that the U.S. military remains in the 17-year war “in order to ensure America’s security.”

“This is why we talk about an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation process and we believe that the best way to get there is to ensure the Taliban recognizes they can’t win on the battlefield, they must negotiate,” Mattis said in his first Pentagon press conference since April.

Prince, whose sister is Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosStudents call on DeVos to offer free tampons, pads in schools to address 'period poverty' DeVos recovering from broken pelvis, hip socket after bicycle accident Student veterans deserve better than the DeVos agenda MORE, previously tried to sell Trump on his privatization plan last year. He has been pushing for it once more in media appearances, including on programs such as “Fox & Friends” that Trump is known to watch.

There is little backing for such a plan among defense officials and lawmakers.