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It’s all just a little bit of history repeating October 8, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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Lately, I can’t help but thinking of Miss Shirley Bassey’s sultry voice singing “History Repeating” every time I hear the term ‘security assistance.’

Security assistance is nothing new for the U.S.  In the early 1940s, for example, the Lend-Lease Act provided huge amounts of equipment to the Allies in World War II before the U.S. got directly involved.  And, of course, all throughout the Cold War guns and money were given to armed forces worldwide under the auspices of countering the expansion of communism. Read more…

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Silence isn’t Golden: State needs to weigh in on security assistance August 2, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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Sections of the recently released QDR independent review panel report sound an awful lot like what you might hear from the pinstriped crowd at Foggy Bottom:

  • A “comprehensive approach” is needed to address the today’s challenges;
  • “USG efforts should also include those of our allies and partners, NGOS, and provide voluntary organizations, international organizations”;
  • “Broader reforms to expand the scope and flexibility of our security assistance programs are essential.”

The stark difference, however, is that the panel concludes that the Pentagon, not the civilian agencies, should be taking the lead in security assistance. Entirely lost in the mix is the reality that these are neither the Pentagon’s prerogatives nor decisions.

The military’s fundamental role is in support of civilian-defined objectives.  The military most certainly should provide advice, input, and skill into foreign assistance decisions and execution.  It should not, however, get to decide based on military missions alone where, for what purposes, and under what guidelines, it should be provided. As cautioned in Spring 2009 by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an imbalance in the civil-military relationship results in the militarization of US foreign policy, resulting in “doing things that we had not planned on doing, had not trained to do.”

The Pentagon’s QDR and the independent review panel report both assert that DOD should play a central and increased role in US security assistance.  In general, this type of aid provides foreign militaries with US training and equipment that bolsters the capacity of their forces to address security concerns, so that the US will not have to deploy its own military.

DOD has always had an important role in US security and related foreign assistance.  For decades the Department has provided immediate transport, logistics, and aid in response to humanitarian disasters and is the primary implementer of traditional security assistance.

Within the last ten years, however, DOD has taken on a much greater role in planning, budgeting, and implementation of security and foreign assistance programs, a trend accelerated in particular by Iraq, Afghanistan, and global counterterrorism operations.  These additional tasks are on top of traditional military missions, including, among others, defending US sovereignty, major combat operations, durance and assurance. (more…)

Africa: A FMF – Section 1206 Comparison June 11, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Analysis.
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Last Saturday night, Mohamed Alessa and Carlos Almonte went to New York’s Kennedy airport with the intent of traveling to Mogadishu to join Al Shabaab, an Islamist militia fighting to establish Somalia as a launching point for global terrorism.  The FBI had other plans, and they were arrested.  Neither Alessa or Almonte are of Somali background, but their case harkened back to the 20 young men from Minnesota’s Somali immigrant community that succeeded in joining Al Shabaab between late 2007 – late 2009.

This is the lens through which the Defense Department looks at Africa.  Across the continent is a ready supply of collapsed states hosting and attracting frustrated, young populations – fertile ground for organizations with terrorist ambitions.  Having been squeezed out of Afghanistan and stressed in Pakistan, Al Qaeda’s demand for safe haven exceeds even that ready supply.

The Defense Department thinks that supply and demand will connect in Africa. It’s putting its money where its mouth is, using its Section 1206 Train and Equip authority.  Sometimes, but not always, the State Department comes along in the form of Foreign military Financing (FMF).  Taken together, the U.S. national security policy for Africa that emerges appears schizophrenic.

Top-Level Security Assistance Picture: FMF and Section 1206 Combined

Two operations define U.S. security assistance in Africa: Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans-Sahara (OEF-TS) and Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).  84% of aggregated FMF and Section 1206 spending between fiscal years 2006 – 2009 ($224M out of $268M) went to eleven of the states under these operations’ remit.

Meaningful security assistance is not going to the failing states on which OEF-TS and CJTF-HOA focus, though.  Somalia, the crux of CJTF-HOA, is not a state and thus receives no assistance.  Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and Chad are only marginally better.  Together, and along with Algeria, they drive OEF-TS but receive only 4% ($11.3M) of this security assistance.  Instead, 77% of aggregated FMF and Section 1206 spending between fiscal years 2006 – 2009 ($207M) went to six states (Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya) that border those in the OEF-TS and CJTF-HOA focus.  To the extent that there is a strategy, it seems containment is the order of the day.

Strategy schizophrenia: FMF and Section 1206 in detail

The reappearance of containment aside, considering FMF and Section 1206 individually reveals that U.S. security assistance strategy in Africa is conflicted.  The Defense Department’s Section 1206 authority to set security assistance policy is supposed to be a rare exception from the norm of State Department leadership in this area.  Yet the exception dominates the rule in Africa.  Section 1206 nearly doubles FMF assistance (62% and 38%, respectively).

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East Asia and the Pacific: A FMF/ Section 1206 Comparison June 4, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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Recent events in East Asia and the Pacific have dominated the national security conversation. Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama resigned this week over his unrealized campaign promise to move the US Futenma Marine Air Station off the southern island of Okinawa. The sinking of a South Korean warship in March has had everyone paying closer attention to the Korean peninsula and the region as a whole.

Yet, US security assistance initiatives in East Asia and the Pacific do not center on Japan or Korea although they are among our closest allies. This rationale centers on the permanence of US military bases in the region and that these countries have large, robust economies that can provide for their own security needs. US security assistance instead focuses on the Philippines and Indonesia, primarily to support counterterrorism capabilities, maritime and border security, and military reform.

As the graphic indicates, from FY2006-2009, the Philippines and Indonesia received 80% of total FMF/Section 1206 funds to the region. In the case of State’s FMF account, the Philippines received 68% of the regional FMF total, followed by Indonesia with 19%. For DOD’s Section 1206 authority, comparable amounts of funds were provided to Indonesia, Philippines, and Malaysia; no other country in East Asia or the Pacific received Section 1206 funds. Malaysia was the only recipient of Section 1206 funds that did not also receive FMF funds. (more…)

Europe: A FMF and Section 1206 Comparison May 28, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Analysis.
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NATO will update its strategic concept at its upcoming Lisbon Summit for the first time since 1999.  Last week, a group of experts convened by the Alliance made a series recommendations for this new strategic concept.  Foremost among them is renewed commitment to a Europe whole, free, and at peace.

The U.S. more than shares this policy – we originated it, and have enshrined it in our foreign policy ever since.  Security assistance to new and aspiring members is one of the most prominent expressions of this policy, including the State Departments Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program and the Defense Department’s Section 1206 train and equip authority.

Top-Level Security Assistance Picture: FMF and Section 1206 Combined


Turkey is the only pre-1999 NATO member to receive any of the $507 million in FMF or 1206 assistance ($37M; 7%) offered to European states between FY2006-09.  Another $60 million (12%) went to seven states contributing a total of 160 troops in Afghanistan and either uninterested in NATO membership (Serbia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova) or far from achieving it (Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia).

81% of FMF and Section 1206 spending, however, went to NATO’s twelve most recent members and the three partners (Macedonia, Ukraine, Georgia) closest to membership.  Budgets strongly reflect U.S.-NATO policy in this instance, helping to tie European states into a meaningful whole.

Understanding the Strategy: FMF and Section 1206 in Detail

That European whole is premised on peace, an immediate and empirical goal, and democratic freedom, which develops and is maintained over the longer term.  Section 1206 and FMF assistance can be distinguished in similar ways. Focused on training and equipping foreign forces to control their territory and contribute to coalition counterterrorism operations, Section 1206 aligns closely with U.S. policy of European peace.  Just as that peace then is institutionalized through democratic freedom, Section 1206 assistance needs more deliberate FMF packages to be sustained.

U.S. spending patterns on FMF and Section 1206 assistance to Europe reflect this complementary nature.  More so than any other region, Section 1206 assistance is spent strategically in Europe.  95% ($45M) of it is spent in the four states (Albania, Georgia, Macedonia, and Ukraine) struggling most mightily to institutionalize durable peace, meet NATO interoperability standards, and contribute troops in Afghanistan.  Only one of these – Albania – is a NATO member, and it acceded just last year.  Sustainment is a goal but more for the long term, represented by the fact that they each receive FMF assistance, but only 22% ($99M) of the region’s total.

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Relying on the Kindness of Others: A Risky Partner-Building Strategy May 13, 2010

Posted by Laura A. Hall in Analysis.
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By Laura A. Hall and Gordon Adams

Secretary of Defense Bob Gates has rightly been hailed as a great public servant, a stellar Secretary, and a constructive partner to Secretary Clinton.  He also frequently makes the case for building up civilian international affairs capacity in his most prominent policy speeches. Yet a number of his proposals applying this policy in fact undercut civilian authorities and capabilities.  Foremost among these is the idea for new, permanent, shared DOD-State resources and authorities for conflict prevention, post-conflict reconstruction, and security assistance.

Secretary Gates has an article in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs that builds on his December letter to Secretary Clinton, proposing joint funds between State and Defense.  It is the latest salvo in a long-running debate over how to manage security assistance programs, how to fund contingencies, and how to integrate short-term defense requirements with longer-term development and diplomatic considerations.

He Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune

Temporary authorities in the last few years (1206, 1207, CERP) have been devised and implemented, driven by two wars and a global counter-terrorism strategy.  DoD’s ability to get funding for these efforts on a large enough scale trumped concerns about the appropriate roles of State and USAID.  These short-term authorities should not be the long-term pattern.

First, Gates proposes a shared-pool of funding to address conflict prevention.  This is the “day job” of the Department of State and USAID and should be funded through accounts controlled by the Secretary of State.  DoD’s rightful awareness of the importance of “Phase 0” operations does not change the fact that the most important tools in conflict prevention are diplomatic and development ones, not military ones.  Providing some of the funding through DoD committees and with one key in the pocket of the Secretary of Defense would distort the decision making on when, where, and for what purposes such funding should be applied.  There is a crying need for more flexible funding that can be applied quickly where there is a new risk or opportunity and DoD is to be commended for its ability to wrest those kinds of authorities from Congress.  State and USAID need additional, un-earmarked funds that can be spent quickly, including on security sector assistance activities appropriately undertaken by the DOD.

The second proposed pool is for post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction.  The U.S. military knows better than anyone how critical it is to get this right because the cost of failure in blood and treasure are too high.  DoD has done important work on developing doctrine for how to manage these complex environments and has put up seed money for State and USAID to operate (Section 1207).   It has always been clear, however, that these resources and authority were temporary, and that reconstruction and stabilization should be a civilian activity funded through the Department of State.  Recent budget requests have shifted the funding permanently to State through a Complex Crises Fund.   Congress obliged last year, and so it should remain.  Any CERP funding for DoD should include clear purposes related to military activities and a requirement to coordinate with civilian officials.  The close relationship between S/CRS at State and DoD on doctrine and deployments indicates that these funds would be used to address instability and to expand civilian operations in areas where DoD has an interest. (more…)

The Dinosaurs Called Geographic Combatant Commands May 12, 2010

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Former Ambassador to Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, Edward Marks was a foreign service officer from 1959-1995 and retired with the rank of Minister-Counselor.

by Amb. (ret.) Edward Marks

Over the many years of the Cold War the United States military created a complex set of organizations called Geographic Combatant Commands (GCCs). They arose out of WWII and grew in size, complexity, and resources over the years to meet the Soviet challenge.  Although this historical period is now over, we are left with the GCCs whose unfitness for the contemporary world reminds us of how enormously big, expensive, and clumsy these bureaucratic creatures are. It is time to get rid of them.

The GCCs essentially have two tasks:  war planning and fighting, and military engagement programs.  Both tasks remain, and will always remain, fundamental responsibilities of the Department of Defense and the military services – but not necessarily by the instrumentality of the GCCs. In fact, there is much evidence that they do not do them very well.

For instance, we are constantly being told that one of our major security challenges is international terrorism, and yet the lead for planning (and often conducting) military counterterrorism campaigns falls on the shoulder of Special Operations Command a global, functional command – not regional.  The other major security challenge is monitoring and securing WMD, a task that falls to another global, functional command – Strategic Command.  In other words, the GCCs are not designated as the lead military organization for managing our two primary military challenges.

As for the other large bundle of duties which occupy much of the time, staff, and resources of the GCCs – security assistance and such – anyone with any experience with military engagement knows that it is by and large pursued with little strategic vision.  Rather, it is largely utilized as “walking around money” for Combatant Commanders, their staffs, and military representatives in embassies.   This is a valuable activity, but we do not need the large GCC staffs to manage it.

In addition, both the war planning/fighting and military engagement tasks conducted by the GCCs are perverted by their regional perspective.  The GCCs in fact argue that their regional perspective is their primary virtue, that no one else in the U.S. government so successfully pursues this important aspect of current developments. However, in this attitude, the military has it wrong.   Strict geographic regionalism is not in fact how the world is organized.

Two major trends are moving us today – globalization on one end and localism on the other.  Of course somewhere along this continuum there are regional developments and trends, but where does one draw the lines, where does one identify the seams that must influence US policy?  Is North Africa a European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or African concern?  All of the above course – making AFRICOM merely another player on an already too busy playing field.  In fact, to the degree that AFRICOM focuses on North Africa as an African question, it will inevitably be mistaken in its analysis and programs.

But if the GCCs are too big and obsolete, what could replace them? The answer is fairly simple, at least in organization theory, although implementation might be messy.

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Building State Department Muscle by Linking Security Assistance to Foreign Policy Priorities April 5, 2010

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This op-ed is re-posted from the 05 April edition of Defense News.  It is available in its original form here.

by Paul Clayman, former chief counsel to Senator Richard Lugar

Einstein, channeling Dr. Seuss, famously remarked, “A question that sometimes drives me hazy, am I or are the others crazy?”

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates must sympathize. Between campaigning against plus-ups in his budget for purchases such as the C-17 transport plane and the Joint Strike Fighter’s second engine, Gates routinely advocates for increasing State Department authority and funding in core foreign policy areas such as security assistance.

Promoting other agencies’ budget growth often is seen as the definition of crazy through the lens of Washington’s zero-sum budgetary game. Fortunately for Gates and the rest of us, he is as sane as ever.

In a February address at the Nixon Center, he emphasized that “whatever we do should reinforce the State Department’s lead role in crafting and conducting U.S. foreign policy, to include foreign assistance, of which building security capacity is a key part.”

That vision is absolutely correct. As Gates implies, his counterpart at State is properly charged with determining which countries should receive U.S. assistance, as well as the timing, content and duration of such assistance.

The Defense Department, however, has been moving the other way. Responding in 2006 to the urgency of Afghanistan, Iraq and global counterterrorism efforts, Congress authorized a Pentagon request for new, albeit temporary, security assistance authorities. These authorities widened the mission for an already-stressed Department of Defense while eroding the tradition of State Department leadership in aligning security assistance with America’s foreign policy priorities.

Major elements of this security assistance structure will soon expire, however, and the time has come to rethink the underlying authorities beyond the immediate needs of Afghanistan and Iraq. Gates anticipated this need and proposed a more robust State Department role in his December “pooled resources, shared responsibility” memo to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Under his plan, the State and Defense departments would pool security assistance funds into a single account and then obligate those funds jointly.

Though innovative, “pooled resources, shared responsibilities” is an inappropriate construct for conducting America’s foreign policy. For the first time, it would grant the secretary of defense a veto over foreign policy decisions made by the secretary of state. That, in turn, would misalign the roles of the Defense Department in policymaking and the contribution of security assistance to America’s delicate diplomatic balance.

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“Arrested Development”: How Bridging the Security-Development Divide Can be More than a Talking Point December 8, 2009

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Each Tuesday BFAD features a guest blogger- these are experts from a variety of backgrounds writing about what they know best.  This week features Brian Finlay, Director of Stimson’s Managing Across Boundaries Program.

“Arrested Development”: How Bridging the Security-Development Divide Can be More than a Talking Point

by Brian Finlay

During his tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan famously remarked that long-term security is not possible without development, and that sustainable development is not possible in the absence of security. Although leaders in the developed world have increasingly borrowed from his language in their public pronouncements and policy speeches, the inherent relationship between the goals of development and security has not been validated by a commensurate shift in national spending habits. Top-line development assistance worldwide in 2007 was about $104 billion, while total military spending exceeded $1.279 trillion.  In other words, for every dollar spent on international development, $12.30 was spent in direct support of global armed forces.

Today in Washington, a cottage industry has emerged to promote a rebalancing of our foreign spending habits, with Secretary of Defense Gates becoming an eloquent, if unlikely, advocate for change. But because development and security programs have for so long been treated as competing priorities within the national budget process, revolutionary change has not proven to be easy, despite clear evidence of the benefits of a new approach. Of course, any successful rebalancing of priorities must necessarily go beyond the mere reallocation of resources. At its core, it will require a wiser and more strategic channeling of our national investments so that spending on one side of the budgetary ledger better supports the objectives of the other. Although this “revelation” is neither novel nor revelatory, to date, evidence of successful leveraging has been all too sporadic, seemingly more dependent upon serendipity than implementation of a government-wide strategic vision.

Starting Big

According to successive presidents, Congressionally-chartered studies, and a broad array of national security analysts, the threat posed by nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons is the greatest threat facing US and global security. In its final report, the 9/11 Commission found that, “The greatest danger of another catastrophic attack in the United States will materialize if the world’s most dangerous terrorists acquire the world’s most dangerous weapons.” They therefore concluded that there is no greater government priority than preventing the proliferation of these weapons.

Beyond the devastating national security implications even a small scale nuclear incident would have for humanity are the profound repercussions such an incident would have on the international development agenda. The global economy would sink into a deep economic depression and the forces of globalization would be immediately stunted as a culture of fear and suspicion fundamentally altered the way the world did business. With such profound implications for both sides of the global agenda, there would seem to be no better place to launch efforts at bridging the security-development divide than with the millions of dollars spent annually to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Building Buy-in

While no responsible government can reasonably conclude that keeping WMD out of the hands of terrorists is an important goal, the vast majority of governments around the world are plagued with an array of immediate threats to the security and wellbeing of their people that seem to have little to do with the proliferation of advanced weapons and technologies. Extreme poverty still ravages the lives of one in four people in the developing world. Nearly 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day, and more than 1 billion suffer from chronic hunger. Every year, an estimated 2.3 million people are newly infected with HIV—more than 6,000 new infections every day. And access to education remains an elusive goal for huge swaths of the human race. Beyond the immediate human tragedies and challenges to global development, these enduring conditions have resulted in the devaluation of the nonproliferation agenda—particularly across the Global South, a growing zone of proliferation concern. (more…)

US Assistance to Mali October 26, 2009

Posted by Trice Kabundi in Analysis.
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The US ambassador to Mali announced last week that the US will give more than $5 million of military equipment to the Mali government.  This assistance is being given to support efforts by the Mali government to combat growing extremism in the West African nation.  This funding is separate from the $123 million that the State Department has requested in the FY 2010 budget for Mali.  The bulk of the FY 2010 requested funds are non-security related, designed to support development and economic expansion, global health initiatives, and provide food assistance to one of the world’s poorest nations.  The donated military equipment is reflective of growing concerns by the West that Mali has become increasingly susceptible to Islamic extremism, particularly the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al-Qaida’s North Africa branch.

The AQIM operates mainly in neighboring Algeria, however the group is suspected of crossing Mali’s porous borders and spreading violence in northwestern Africa.  There has been increased AQIM presence in northern Mali, and the group has carried out a string of violent attacks against Westerners and African security forces.  Northern Mali is large (comparable in size to Texas) sparsely populated, and loosely governed.  This combination has provided the AQIM with safe havens and, from the US perspective, has necessitated a more capable Mali security force to counter this emerging terrorist threat.

The US will provide Mali’s security forces with 37 new Land Cruiser pickup trucks, communications equipment, military clothing, and additional replacement parts, clothing, individual equipment and other supplies.  Such assistance is expected to increase Mali’s ability to secure its borders, and increase the Malian security forces’ ability to “move, transport and communicate across wide expanses of open desert.”

Security concerns related to extremism is only part of the story.  Mali is among the poorest countries in the world with an estimated unemployment rate of 30 percent and $1,200 GDP per capita with large income disparities.  The huge population of unemployed young men combined with an increasing presence of more extreme forms of Islam has prompted the US to provide both non-military support and military training aimed to curb extremism. (more…)