Task Force Pineapple co-founder Scott Mann, whose efforts led to the rescue of more than 1,000 Afghan nationals after the United States military withdrew from Afghanistan last year, is the seventh annual recipient of the Savas Award for Privatization. The award was presented by Reason magazine Editor in Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward in Washington, DC, on June 2.
Mann’s remarkable leadership shows how private actors can take initiative to solve real-world problems and provide life-saving humanitarian support. Mann co-founded Task Force Pineapple, a network of former Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and other intelligence professionals, that refused to abandon their former comrades—Afghan allies—after the US launched its chaotic military withdrawal process from Afghanistan in 2021.
Mann himself coordinated the first rescue efforts from his cell phone, instructing his friend and former translator to use the code word “pineapple” to identify those who would help the translator make it safely out from behind the Taliban’s lines. In just a few months, Task Force Pineapple rescued more than 1,000 local translators and professionals who had worked with the U.S., ensuring that they and their families could start new lives in freedom. As Mann recounted during the Savas Award presentation:
“[Task Force Pineapple] represented a public-private partnership that was agile and working. We started getting phone calls from the government to move their own people out…When that last plane left Kabul, we had 6,000 people on our manifest. Twenty babies were born in our safe house, and their medical care was fully sustained by donations from the private sector. It was all the private sector. It was all volunteers. There was no humanitarian aid.”
Mann is a retired Green Beret with over 22 years of Army and Special Operations experience around the world. He has deployed to Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Iraq, and Afghanistan. As the chief executive officer of Rooftop Leadership and the founder of a 501(c)3 committed to helping veterans tell their stories in transition, Mann regularly speaks to, and trains, corporate leaders, law enforcement, and special operations forces on best practices for going local and making better human connections.
Reason Foundation’s Savas Award for Privatization is given annually to a remarkable individual who is advancing innovative ways to better and more cost-effectively provide public services through partnerships with private organizations. The award is named for E. S. “Steve” Savas, who pioneered the concept of privatization while serving as deputy city administrator of New York City. Privatization has been central to Reason’s work for 50 years, when founder Bob Poole began refining the concept and published the first book-length treatment of municipal privatization, Cutting Back City Hall, in 1980.
Previous recipients of the Savas Award include then-Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, former Indiana Governor and current Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, aerospace engineer and XPrize winner Burt Rutan, Success Academy co-founder Eva Moskowitz, former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, and Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools co-founder Ambassador Frank Baxter.
Kelvey Vander Hart
Reason Foundation, Reason magazine