Since September 18, 2001, the Congress of the United States has vested power in 3 Presidential Administrations to engage the United States Armed Forces through The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub. L. 107-40.
As combat veterans, we are alarmed that this practice continues in many countries 16 years later and far beyond the scope of the original threat posed by 911, with soldiers lives and billions in taxes at play.
Extracts below from an article by Daniel DePetris In “Military Times” and another article by Shawn Snow and Mackenzie Woffin in the “Army Times” detail our alarm:
**Congress just removed a proposed amendment to the AUMF from legislation underway that would have required a debate on Congressional authorization for present use of military forces as specified in the Constitution.
**The current President of the United States and his advisers are considering withdrawing military forces from current war zones and replacing them with civilian contractor ground and air forces reporting directly to the U.S. President in support of the occupied countries heads of state.
It is our hope the American People will become as alarmed as we are and insist their elected representatives accept the constitutional military authorization duties entrusted to them as well as stop all dangerous contracting to civilian military forces with tax payer funding.
Congress Shirking Its Duty By Avoiding War Authorization Debate
“MILITARY TIIMES” By Daniel Detris
“Congress is preparing to adjourn for several weeks after a legislative session dominated by partisan infighting … and very little productivity.
Not a single piece of significant legislation has passed, and while most attention has gone toward health care reform and appropriations bills, we’re also talking about the legislative branch’s most solemn responsibility under the Constitution: Declaring war, or at least authorizing the use of military force.
The war on terrorism has expanded into new theaters of combat, encompassing terrorist groups that didn’t exist when President George W. Bush began the campaign against Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaida network in October 2001. The U.S. military is either conducting bombing runs, combat missions or counterterrorism operations in at least seven countries.
A congressional resolution originally crafted to provide the president with the power to retaliate against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks has turned into a blank check to drop munitions or send American troops against any band of terrorists that may pop up in the mountains of Waziristan or the fields of Somalia.Under our system of government, Congress is just as responsible for war as the commander in chief. Many lawmakers, however, have gradually transmitted this responsibility to the executive branch, across three presidencies.
But the congressional neglect is disturbing for a far more fundamental reason: By default, the power to plunge the U.S. into conflict is decided by a single individual — the president — based on that individual’s determination of what’s in the national interest.
As James Madison rightly observed 219 years ago, ”[t]he Constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it.”The country has unfortunately forgotten Madison’s words, operating as if it is the president’s job and the president’s job alone to not it outright.
At least a half-dozen lawmakers from both parties have filed AUMF drafts to stimulate their colleagues to start taking the issue seriously. At least in the rank-and-file, the momentum for a more assertive legislative branch is growing —the House Appropriations Committee voted to include a measure in the annual defense spending bill to sunset the 2001 AUMF in eight months, hoping that this would spur Congress into passing an updated version. The amendment was later stripped out of the bill.
The eagerness of the congressional rank and file has yet to reach the leadership. Their excuses are as varied as they are disjointed: It is not the right time to debate the war on terrorism; there is no room on the legislative calendar; a defense bill is not the appropriate vehicle to discuss a subject of such importance; bridging the gap between and among lawmakers on how extensive the president’s authority should be is simply too difficult, so why even try?
To the U.S. soldiers advising Iraqi security forces at the front and to the American taxpayers who are paying for these military operations, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a year, the country’s elected representatives aren’t pulling their weight.
If congressional leadership will not authorize a debate –– and there is no reason to believe they will –– the committee chairmen who have jurisdiction over the writing of a military authorization bill shouldn’t wait any longer. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., are making the right decision by holding hearings, but merely talking about the issue cannot be the end of the process.
It will be up to these two men to allow an AUMF measure to work its way through committee. For the sake of America’s democracy, the Constitution, and the Americans who sacrifice their lives and their wallets to fight and pay for these wars, let’s hope they will use their power to shock Congress out of submission.”
Blackwater Founder Wants to Boost the Afghan Air War With His Private Air Force
“ARMY TIMES” By Shawn Snow and Mackenzie Wolf
“The development comes as the White House is considering a plan to draw down the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and replace the ensuing power vacuum with contractors.
The proposal submitted to the Afghan government in March boasts an impressive array of combat aircraft for a private company. The aircraft offered in the proposal includes fixed-wing planes, attack helicopters and drones capable of providing close-air support to maneuvering ground forces, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by Military Times.
The proposal promises to provide ”high speed response” close-air support and ”the entire country can be responded to in under 1 hour.” The proposal states that weapons release decisions will still be made by Afghans.
The air frames are also outfitted with equipment to provide intelligence collection that includes imagery intelligence, signals intelligence and communications intelligence. The aircraft would be operated by the private company’s employees.
The former Blackwater CEO sparked controversy a decade ago when his firm provided hundreds of millions of dollars in security support services to U.S. government in Iraq.
More recently, Prince has been using his private air force all over the globe to include Somalia, Iraq and South Sudan. Prince also reportedly has close ties to the Trump administration: He is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and was reportedly tapped to create a back channel line of communication with the Russian government during the Trump transition.
Prince’s firm is now called the Frontier Services Group and is based in Hong Kong.
Through an affiliate known as EP Aviation, Prince operates his own personal air force. In Central Africa, the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army is bolstered by Prince’s airpower. Helicopters registered to EP Aviation have been seen transporting U.S. Special Forces troops in the central African region, per a Daily Beast report.
The company named on the proposal to the Afghan government, Lancaster6, is already operating some of its aircraft in Afghanistan providing air mobility, troop transport, and parachute air drop support for supplies and cargo.
It’s unclear precisely what Prince’s current role is with Lancaster6, which is based in Dubai. The Afghan military official said Prince personally presented the Lancaster6 proposal to Afghan officials.
The current CEO of Lancaster6, according to a personal LinkedIn profile is the former director of operations and director of aviation for Prince’s Frontier Services Group, Christiaan Durrant.
Durrant was recruited by Erik Prince to build his private air force, according to a report by The Intercept.
Frontier Services Group and Lancaster6 did not respond to Military Times requests for comment.”