As news breaks about businessman and former U.S. Navy SEAL Erik Prince supposedly pitching yet another plan to send American contractors into yet another country (Venezuela), a new report indicates there are more contractors in Afghanistan than ever before, nearly 5,900. Since President Trump took office, Prince has proposed numerous plans to essentially withdraw the U.S. military from Afghanistan and replace soldiers with contractors.

The controversial founder of Blackwater and son of a billionaire auto parts maker made direct appeals to the public to support his plan, but to no avail. Reports say the so-called Prince Plan never had any real support beyond one or two people in the White House. That said, the number of contractors in Afghanistan continues to rise.

From the report:

Of the 5,883 security contractors outlined in the latest reports from U.S. Central Command, 2,567 of them are armed private security contractors. The rest provide support functions, like driving vehicles or other logistics work related to security activities. Security contractors, both armed and unarmed, are a subset of a larger group of contractors who perform a broad range of tasks, including translation, construction and information technology services. But at nearly 20 percent of that pool, they now represent a bigger portion of all contractors than at any time since 2013. The Costs of War project documents that as many as 2,800 contractors have died in Afghanistan – a figure that often goes unmentioned in public remembrances of the 2,400 U.S. military deaths in that war.

Meanwhile, the war in Afghanistan drags on with the United States government desperately trying to negotiate some sort of political solution with the very enemy it has waged war against for 17 years. In the interim, the Prince Plan may be problematic but it offers policymakers an easy out, replacing uniformed soldiers with contractors who are rather expendable in the eyes of the American public.

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