The names of two private contractors have been thrown out. One is Blackwater (now known as Academi), whose founder Erik Prince is widely known to be a close confidant of Trump. Prince is also the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The other is Dyncorp, which is owned by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm. The head of Cerberus is Stephen A. Feinberg, who is also a close advisor to Trump.
As an in-depth profile of him points out, the billionaire Feinberg also owns the largest US gun manufacturing company, Remington Outdoor Company, which has a military supply wing, Remington Defense, and subsidiaries that have contracts with the Department of Defense.
The New York Times reports that Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon have contacted both Prince and Feinberg to discuss developing plans for further privatizing the Afghan war. And if profiting from war spending wasn’t enough, there is also open talk of exploiting Afghanistan’s mineral resources.
The Military Times reports that: “According to a senior Afghan military official, Prince has submitted a business proposal offering a “turn-key composite air wing” to help the fledgling Afghan air force in its fight against the Taliban and other militant group.”
It should also be noted that new Trump chief of staff John Kelly was also an advisor for Dyncorp, earning $166,666 in less than a year. (See our map of Kelly’s murky ties to private military contractors).
It’s also worth keeping an eye on Tier 1, a private military training facility inspired by Blackwater, as well as its founder Steve Reichert, a veteran-turned-private contractor who, according to a New York Magazine profile, used to work for Blackwater as a trainer. He befriended Feinberg while working at Blackwater, when Feinberg visited Blackwater’s North Carolina training facility.
Reichert and Feinberg started Tier 1 together, with Feinberg providing the capital. The New Yorker reports that, through his connections from Tier 1, Feinberg has developed a very close relationship with the military, including special-ops.
Stay tuned to PAI & LittleSis for updates as we look into this story further — especially the relationship between Trump and Dyncorp.