Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The Trump administration is considering a proposal to privatize the United States' interests in the war in Afghanistan, the founder of security firm Blackwater said Tuesday.
Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater, told USA Today he proposed using 5,500 private contractors, many former special operations troops, to take on the role of advising Afghan forces. He said the plan also would include a 90-plane air force.
Prince is now executive director and chairman of Frontier Services Group.
Prince told CBS News the plan would cut the annual cost of U.S. involvement in the war from $45 billion to less than $10 billion.
There are 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in an operation to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces. The United States has been involved in the war for 16 years.
"At what point do you say a conventional military approach in Afghanistan is not working," Prince said. "Maybe we say that at 16 years."
He said his plan would institute a "unity of command" and the contractors would "attach" to the Afghan army.
"The interagency process, you've had 17 different commanders in 15 years. That's not even counting ambassadors or CIA station chiefs," Prince said. "So you have to have one person that is clearly in charge of U.S. policy, spending, rules of engagement of the effort there.
"The way the United Nations defines mercenaries, by being attached to the Afghan army, they would not be mercenaries," he added. "So they would be contracted people, professionals, former special operations veterans that have experience in that theater to go do that work."