By Gordon Adams and Rebecca Williams – As the Arab world struggles to emerge from
oppressive, generations-old autocracies, America’s robust program to
train and equip foreign militaries has become a focus of attention. The
impact of US security assistance to the region is ambiguous, at best.
Providing military equipment and training has helped keep autocrats in
power but may have also provided us with a vital communication link to
the Egyptian military as the crisis evolved in that country.
The Stimson Center’s Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program released a timely new report on security assistance. The
report argues that US security assistance programs are now at a turning
point, given the drawdown of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and the
events in the Middle East, and that now is the time to reevaluate the
purposes of such assistance and the framework which has defined them for
the past six decades.
A New Way Forward proposes that the expansion
of security assistance programs at DOD be reversed and that future
programs be focused in a broader goal of governance. The report provides
a list of guiding principles for rebalancing US security assistance
programs, recommendations for the executive and legislative branches,
and a transition strategy.
Comments about the report:
- “Our security assistance efforts need to be solidly embedded in our
foreign policy. State should have a lead role in that process and this
report provides one solid route for ensuring that leadership.”
Amb. Thomas Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
- “At a time when fragile states around the world are increasingly
vulnerable to extremist and corrupt influences, Washington must find
less costly and more effective ways to promote international security. A New Way Forward calls
for a sensible realignment of security assistance programs that will go
a long way to converting precious assistance dollars into maximum
Amb. Lincoln Bloomfield, Jr, former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs
News articles about the report
Brannen, Kate. “Report: Return U.S. Security Assistance Role to State Dept.“, Defense News, 20 April 2011.
Bennett, John. “Think tank: “Shift foreign assistance programs, funds back to State“, The Hill, 24 April 2011.
Adams, Gordon and Rebecca Williams, “Civilians should lead security assistance with
longer-term focus“, The Will and the Wallet, 25 April 2011.