The "Politics" of Security Cooperation and Security Assistance

By Thomas-Durell Young

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Dr. Thomas-Durell Young is a Senior Lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Members of Cameroonian armed forces participate in visit,
board, search, and seizure drill aboard Nigerian training vessel during U.S. Africa Command–sponsored exercise Obangame Express 2019, in Lagos, Nigeria, March 18, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Kyle Steckler)
Members of Cameroonian armed forces participate in visit, board, search, and seizure drill aboard Nigerian training vessel during U.S. Africa Command–sponsored exercise Obangame Express 2019, in Lagos, Nigeria, March 18, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Kyle Steckler)
Members of Cameroonian armed forces participate in visit,
board, search, and seizure drill aboard Nigerian training vessel during U.S. Africa Command–sponsored exercise Obangame Express 2019, in Lagos, Nigeria, March 18, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Kyle Steckler)
Members of Cameroonian armed forces participate in visit, board, search, and seizure drill aboard Nigerian training vessel during U.S. Africa Command–sponsored exercise Obangame Express 2019, in Lagos, Nigeria, March 18, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Kyle Steckler)
Members of Cameroonian armed forces participate in visit, board, search, and seizure drill aboard Nigerian training vessel during U.S. Africa Command–sponsored exercise Obangame Express 2019, in Lagos, Nigeria, March 18, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Kyle Steckler)
Photo By: Kyle Steckler
VIRIN: 190318-N-RG482-0265

In 1955 a book titled The Politics of the Prussian Army, 1640–1945 was published; it would soon become a landmark study of civil-military relations.1 Gordon Craig’s unassuming tome became widely influential within and outside the civil-military relations field and spurred the publication of what has become a wide literature on the politics of armies (particularly those of the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, and France) that takes a different approach to our conventional understanding of civil-military relations.2 What makes these latter books prescient in their instruction is that they disabuse readers of the erroneous assumption that armies are somehow subservient to their political masters and eschew involvement in domestic politics or in any system of governance. As the historical record demonstrates (and, dare one suggest, a reflection of the U.S. Armed Forces in a contemporary setting3), armies are all but inherently political and need to be recognized as such if their effect on civil-military relations is to be properly assessed.

The intrinsically political nature of military organizations is no less true when it comes to armies’ efforts in the education, training, and equipping of foreign partner nations’ armed forces, known as security cooperation (SC) and security assistance (SA). Yet much of the American bureaucracy and legal framework for these activities treat them as fundamentally technical problems that are susceptible to improvement through better procedures. This technicism, to purloin a term from Samuel Huntington,4 is arguably at the heart of many of our failures and disappointments in building partner security forces (for example, those of Afghanistan,5 Iraq,6 and Mali7) or in reforming defense institutions in Central and Eastern Europe.8 Virtually every fix proposed to partners is yet another technical or bureaucratic adjustment rather than an acknowledgment of the fundamentally political nature of these activities, both within a partner nation as well as among U.S. agencies responsible for planning and carrying out the assistance programs.

The objective of this article is to argue that administration officials and Congress face two different political challenges related to improving SC and SA. Unless and until U.S. officials formulate solutions to these political problems, both branches of government will struggle to achieve more effective means of reforming partner nations’ key governmental institutions. First—and perhaps the easiest challenge to address—is that SC and SA have unintended political consequences in the government institutions of recipient countries and are not solely technical tasks. No one has expressed this point better than Mara Karlin, albeit she was speaking in reference to weak states:

Past experience offers two key lessons for U.S. officials as they seek to strengthen the security sectors of weak states. First, like all state-building endeavors, these are political, not technical, exercises. Instead of focusing narrowly on training and equipment, U.S. policymakers responsible for implementing such programs must address the purpose and scope of the U.S. role and the mission, leadership, and organizational structure of the partner’s military.9

Second, SC and SA are highly politicized; both are inefficient, because of the lack of coordination between the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of State, and ineffective, because of lack of alignment with national security goals (and/or foreign policy objectives). This important reality needs wider appreciation by these departments, as well as by Congress, if the U.S. Government is to improve its ability to find value for money by improving partner nations’ ability to defend their sovereignty, let alone contribute to expeditionary operations. Recent reforms initiated by Congress, most notably in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), constitute a good first effort at addressing these longstanding problems; however, a review of the evidence shows that this legislation should be augmented to define the problem as largely political in nature, as opposed to accepting the traditional default assumption that it is solely technical, which would have enabled it to call for even deeper reforms within these bureaucracies.

This article argues that, due to internal DOD politics and the interorganizational politics within the U.S. Government, suboptimal results ensue from the way the United States plans and executes SC and SA. It then suggests legislative and policy changes that might better take this reality into account. The stakes are high. If U.S. strategy is to bring troops home from the so-called endless wars overseas and let others do the fighting, then its success must be a core priority. But only by reforming the way the United States organizes itself to build allies’ and partners’ armed forces are we likely to meet with any greater success than we have in the past.

Dramatis Personae

Many organizations throughout DOD have long conducted SC and SA. Key roles are played by the military departments (MILDEPs) in execution of these activities, which are in turn managed and coordinated by the combatant commands and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). Arguably, a deeper understanding of the inherent political nature of SC and SA is necessary to ensure that these programs are planned, managed, and executed in a more effective and efficient manner. Ensuring that these activities actually “build” sustainable defense capacity must be a high priority, given recent congressional dissatisfaction with DOD failures to create institutions capable of managing, controlling, and sustaining their armed forces.

In terms of SC and SA, the proverbial elephant in the room is DOD. But this has not always been the case. This is one of the externalities of the George W. Bush administration’s response to the global war on terror; at the time, DOD found that existing U.S. training and particularly equipping programs funded by the Department of State’s appropriations and authorizations (Title 22, U.S. Code) simply were insufficiently responsive and nimble to meet operational commanders’ requirements. Congress responded to DOD’s entreaties for more authority to build partner forces in the FY 2006 NDAA, which authorized DOD (with the concurrence of the Secretary of State) to use its authorizations and appropriations (Title 10, U.S. Code) to build capabilities and capacity in partner armed forces in order to conduct counterterrorism operations. The perhaps predictable, if not inevitable, result of DOD rapidly trying to create capacity within partner armed forces was an embarrassing lack of attention paid to the financial niceties and details that are of great importance to Congress. As a RAND report observed, “DOD lacks the detailed financial data necessary to respond to new congressional reporting requirements. Moreover, DOD leaders are unable to compare SC spending across countries, regions, and programs, which is critical to future prioritization and resourcing decisions.”10

Lieutenant Laura Burzenski, assigned to “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, demonstrates unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-8B Fire Scout capabilities and configurations with Royal Brunei armed forces during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Brunei, South China Sea, October 30,
2019 (U.S. Navy/Christopher A. Veloicaza)
Lieutenant Laura Burzenski, assigned to “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, demonstrates unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-8B Fire Scout capabilities and configurations with Royal Brunei armed forces during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Brunei, South China Sea, October 30, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Christopher A. Veloicaza)
Lieutenant Laura Burzenski, assigned to “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, demonstrates unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-8B Fire Scout capabilities and configurations with Royal Brunei armed forces during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Brunei, South China Sea, October 30,
2019 (U.S. Navy/Christopher A. Veloicaza)
Lieutenant Laura Burzenski, assigned to “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, demonstrates unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-8B Fire Scout capabilities and configurations with Royal Brunei armed forces during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Brunei, South China Sea, October 30, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Christopher A. Veloicaza)
Lieutenant Laura Burzenski, assigned to “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, demonstrates unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-8B Fire Scout capabilities and configurations with Royal Brunei armed forces during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Brunei, South China Sea, October 30, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Christopher A. Veloicaza)
Photo By: Christopher A. Veloicaza
VIRIN: 191030-N-FV739-0760

Perhaps it is inaccurate to characterize DOD as an elephant (in any room); in reality, it is more like a herd of independently minded creatures. Title 10 makes it clear that the individual MILDEPs exist in splendid political if not geographical isolation from each other, let alone from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The MILDEPs’ Major Force Programs reflect the clear objective of Congress that the former retain a high degree of autonomy from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, notwithstanding largely ignored verbiage in the law that explicitly states in the preamble to the three departments’ sections that the exercise of their functions are “subject to the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of Defense.”11 The record demonstrates that the intent of Congress’s annual appropriations and authorizations easily trumps this provision of the law. The canonical source of the MILDEPs’ autonomy is found in the 12 roles and missions assigned to them in Title 10.12 It is the particular authority of training under which the MILDEPs’ authority to conduct SC and SA reside (for example, continental U.S.-based professional military education and all forms of training).

Other key players in the planning and execution of these programs include the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which provides policy guidance and priorities; DSCA, with its newly enhanced powers granted to it via the FY 2017 NDAA (discussed below); the combatant commands, which act as planners and coordinators of these activities (under the authority of the Unified Command Plan); the Service components that execute many of the in-country training events; and finally, as extensions of the combatant commands, defense cooperation offices resident in-country that manage and direct both training programs and equipment transfers. Given the number of stakeholders, the politics of agreeing priorities, approaches, timing, scope, and so forth, the execution of SC and SA activities can be frightfully untidy.

Since 2006, the previous position of the Department of State, which originally had the lead in funding (and therefore some influence in controlling) these activities, has been eclipsed. While it continues to control funding for its many Title 22 programs, they are largely executed via DSCA and the MILDEPs. Although Congress has recognized that it has, in effect, created the basis for confusion via the two departments’ dual congressionally mandated authorities and authorizations, a political decision to create a clear lead agent for these activities remains missing. One will return to the U.S. Government’s well-used practice of “fudging” when it comes to identifying who’s in charge.

It is instructive at this point to cite the example of the FY 2016 NDAA, which mandated that the “Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall develop and issue to the Department of Defense a strategic framework for Department of Defense security cooperation to guide prioritization of resources and activities.”13 Absent from this legislative language is any reference to “who decides,” consultation being a rather misleading turn of phrase because it implies a relationship of equals (that is, inter pares), as opposed to any suggestion of a hierarchy of authority—not even primus inter pares in this case. In effect, successive legislation since 2006 has changed radically the entire pre-2001 political calculus of how U.S. defense-related advice and assistance are planned and executed. To appreciate the magnitude of this shift, congressional testimony in 2017 acknowledged that DOD’s Title 10 programs had tripled since 2001. For comparison, prior to 2001, the Department of State managed approximately 80 percent of the U.S. Government’s security assistance, whereas by 2017, this figure had dropped to about 50 percent.14 Thus, Congress continues its preference for DOD over the State Department in matters related even to the latter’s core responsibility—that is, diplomacy. It is little wonder, then, that such moves have opened the U.S. Government to criticism that it has militarized its foreign policy.15

The MILDEPs, in various forms and different organizations, largely carry out SC via two different business models: either designing projects from inception to meet specific requirements or training foreign personnel in existing professional military education and training centers funded on an incremental cost basis. In some cases, the invoiced costs of personnel might not even be grounded on such a financially disciplined basis, thereby implying an unintended subsidy by DOD.16 Two aspects of training of foreign personnel by the MILDEPs and defense entities often go unreported. First, data analysis highlights an unpleasant externality: Training partner military personnel doubles the likelihood of a military-led coup d’état.17 Evidently, the recent cases of Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and Captain Amadou Sanogo of Mali are far from rare.18 That said, it must be clarified that correlation does not imply causation—but admittedly, these troubling data do raise questions. Second, both DOD and the State Department reported in a 2011 Government Accountability Office audit that neither collects data on SC and SA programs to evaluate their effectiveness.19 It is disappointing that reliance on these programs of spreading Western democratic defense governance concepts is undermined by the damning admission that neither SC nor SA is designed to change behavior.20 This fact is disconcerting but, sadly, not surprising. Marybeth Peterson Ulrich all but excoriates the DOD disconnect between policy intent and program performance regarding U.S. assistance that she saw provided to the Czech Republic in the 1990s during a critical phase in its democratization. By her analysis, some 80 percent of defense and military contacts did not contribute to U.S. policy objectives intended to further the democratization of Czech armed forces.21

That there has been an apparent disconnect between congressional expectations that SC and SA encourage the adoption of democratic norms abroad is hardly subtle and suggests a political causation for these inconsistencies. After all, if there is no government requirement to produce concrete results, no one can ever be held accountable for failure to meet congressional intent. This inherent weakness to the U.S. Government’s approach to assisting its partners is no more glaringly obvious than in its experience in Afghanistan. For instance, who bears ultimate responsibility for the failure of DOD to re-create the Afghan air force: the originating policymaker, Headquarters Air Force, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Training Mission–Afghanistan, or U.S. Air Force Central Command?22 A recent (and quite damning) Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s lessons-learned report on that lack of progress in the country was unsubtly titled Divided Responsibility.23

The Politics of Causation

In defense of her fetching appearance, the sultry character Jessica Rabbit in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? claimed, “I’m not bad; I’m just drawn that way.” This cri de coeur has resonance in that all of these SC and SA programs, the officials overseeing them, and the many individuals who make up the workforce are not “bad.” Rather, they are simply operating within the intent and spirit of their specific congressional appropriations and authorizations. That a RAND report could find in 2016 some 140 core and supporting authorities that applied to DOD security cooperation paints a rather dissolute tableau prior to the passage of the FY 2017 NDAA, which consolidated these authorities.24 But just as political considerations impeded reforms prior to 2016, subsequent congressional intent apparently has strong political support to redraw DOD’s version of its own Jessica Rabbit, and critically, where politics allow, including the Department of State’s security assistance programs.

Congress’s intent to address these shortcomings was made clear in the FY 2017 NDAA, which contained language that has significantly rationalized authorities to make conducting SC less complex in the following:25

  • Policy oversight and resource allocation have been centralized in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, while unifying administration and execution of Title 10 SC programs within the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
  • DOD must now provide Congress with a consolidated budget justification for Title 10 activities.
  • DOD must also develop an assessment, monitoring, and evaluation (AM&E) framework to create a disciplined and objective method of assessing program effectiveness.
  • DOD is required to create an SC workforce development program26 to ensure personnel engaged in these activities have the required levels of education and training to execute these activities (this is to be fulfilled, in part, by the creation of a Security Cooperation University27).

This legislative intent to reform how DOD plans, manages, and executes SC and SA could be interpreted as largely technical and seemingly apolitical. Other than a forlorn plea in key DOD policy statements for “greater coordination” among stakeholders, these new policies that govern security cooperation28 and related Defense Institution Building29 activities of the DOD do not acknowledge, let alone address, the inherent political nature of these activities—save a long-overdue recognition for the need to assess a partner nation’s political appetite to accept assistance.30 Fortunately, this legislation has opened paths to finding solutions to these vexatious conundrums, but there are some other options that should also be considered.

Congress’s call for a disciplined ability to measure whether SC programs are actually effective, in the form of the adoption of an AM&E methodology, is a positive development, but there are some policy nuances that must be addressed. The call for an AM&E methodology should end the previous DOD approach of largely relying on anecdotal evidence (at best) to justify these activities. A common Defense Department–wide method must be created that will enable Congress to determine which programs and approaches are effective and which are not.31

While a positive step, the development and approval of one methodology is likely to be fraught with challenges. One can identify two specific issues: one methodological and the other political. Regarding the first point, one needs to ascertain in the creation of the methodology whether it is to assess solely inputs or to concentrate on outputs, or, conceivably, both.32 This is an extremely important decision point with wide policy implications. Heretofore, SC has been almost exclusively input based in management and execution. That is to say, DOD can claim that it possesses a world-class toolbox of expertise and formal programs from which to select when assisting a partner nation. Essentially missing from assessments to date has been a formal analysis of ascertaining whether these inputs have had any effect on a partner in the most meaningful measurement conceivable: Did the activity enable, or improve, a partner nation’s armed forces to deliver lethality and remain survivable in the modern battlespace?

This is an important point and is offered as an observation that if an AM&E method looks exclusively at inputs, there is a likelihood that it could find that SC programs are planned and executed in accordance with law and policy. But such an observation would be missing the bigger picture: how to determine if partner nations’ defense outcomes have been improved/expanded or, conceivably, whether they have been diminished, as the programs have had, in fact, an unintended, deleterious effect. This is arguably the case with both SC and SA programs executed in Central and Eastern Europe since the 1990s, a reality that arguably has yet to be fully internalized by the U.S. Government.33 It should be clear that if the method does not answer the simple question of whether defense outcomes have been improved/expanded, then the method could produce false positives. Perhaps the easiest method is simply to return to the Cold War logic used by NATO countries when assessing each other’s respective national force goals as part of the then-integrated defense planning system. It was not important, or appropriate among sovereign states, to examine how nations create their armed forces, but rather to concentrate on whether the money claimed to be spent on national defense actually contributed to the ability of countries to meet their force goals. Thus, regardless of the method finally proposed and approved by DOD (and accepted by Congress), the implications of its effectiveness in determining whether SC concepts and programs are appropriate and cost-effective will be, in the end, quite political. A methodology limited to inputs versus determining if a partner nation’s defense outcomes have improved (measurably) could lead to the continued funding of programs that are ineffectual but that enjoy institutional (political) support within DOD, or Congress.

Perhaps one of the ultimate manifestations of political considerations apropos the efforts to create an AM&E methodology is the strange (but understandable from a political perspective) fact that the Department of State’s SC programs that are not executed by DOD are exempt from any such scrutiny.34 In another political “fudge,” Congress’s appetite for greater transparency and data analysis of DOD security cooperation does not extend to all Title 22 programs. This is understandable (in a political sense) in that to subject all Title 22 programs to the AM&E data analysis would be to de facto designate DOD as senior to the Department of State in assisting partner nations in defense and security programs. That said, because Title 10 and Title 22 programs address essentially the same issues, there can be little methodological argument for both not being subjected to a common AM&E methodology; however, there are political considerations aplenty that argue against even attempting to square this hardened circle.

Another challenge that must be faced is for Congress and DOD to acknowledge that politics play a major role in security cooperation’s execution in a partner nation. As argued, there is an inherent institutional prejudice in most SC programs to define problems in foreign defense institutions as being technical, rather than political, in nature. Because the MILDEPs and combatant commands control the vast majority of SC funding via their planning and management, this prejudice should come as no great surprise. The problem with this reality is that few, if any, within these institutions are experienced in conducting an informed assessment to develop an accurate diagnosis of the actual causation of the problem being addressed, let alone appreciating the inherent political-military nature of these challenges.35 One posits that essentially any shortcoming in an armed force has, ultimately, a policy (and therefore political) shortcoming, and equally fundamental is the need for a policy solution. For security cooperation to be effective, it is crucial that DOD focuses its efforts on understanding political context when assisting a partner nation and its armed forces.

Partner-nation students from Nigeria and Sierra Leone conduct land navigation and reconnaissance tactics at John C. Stennis Space Center, November 20, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Michael Williams)
Partner-nation students from Nigeria and Sierra Leone conduct land navigation and reconnaissance tactics at John C. Stennis Space Center, November 20, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Michael Williams)
Partner-nation students from Nigeria and Sierra Leone conduct land navigation and reconnaissance tactics at John C. Stennis Space Center, November 20, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Michael Williams)
Partner-nation students from Nigeria and Sierra Leone conduct land navigation and reconnaissance tactics at John C. Stennis Space Center, November 20, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Michael Williams)
Partner-nation students from Nigeria and Sierra Leone conduct land navigation and reconnaissance tactics at John C. Stennis Space Center, November 20, 2019 (U.S. Navy/Michael Williams)
Photo By: Michael Williams
VIRIN: 191120-N-ZM469-6533

Understanding political context would appear to be clearly within the provisions of the FY 2017 NDAA language regarding the need for greater attention to be paid to institutional capacity-building. Inherent in this intent is the need for DOD to inculcate within its planning, management, and execution of SC activities the political nature of these activities at the beginning of any effort and thereby ensure that any follow-on activities include a crucial understanding of the political nature of the problem being addressed. The open and persistent acknowledgment of this factor would go a long way in reinforcing to the political leaders of a partner nation that they have a critical policy role to play before, during, and after a seemingly technical SC event is undertaken. Whether such a sea change in policy can take place in a bureaucracy the size of DOD will, unsurprisingly, depend on politics.

A final but important point is a desperate need for policy that makes the provision of SC and SA conditional. All too often, SC events and programs are programmed years in advance (as if they were an exercise or a training event) and are effectively immune from the political commitment of the partner nation’s senior leadership to make needed changes to enable the implementation in the defense institution of SC efforts. Again, Karlin is quite prescient in making this case:

The biggest problem with Washington’s efforts to build foreign militaries is its reluctance to weigh in on higher-order questions of mission, organizational structure, and personnel—issues that profoundly affect a military’s capacity but are often considered too sensitive to touch. Instead, both parties tend to focus exclusively on training and equipment, thus undercutting the effectiveness of U.S. assistance.36

Conclusion

In an era of extreme political divide in the United States and in many democracies across the Western world, it may seem odd that the solution proposed to improve the planning and deliverability of SC and SA is to be found in introducing greater awareness of the many political realities present. This article has argued that on closer examination, politics permeates all aspects of security cooperation, and trying to escape from accepting this reality has proved counterproductive. Arguably, it is politics that has impeded what is likely the most important reform that would make DOD’s SC efforts most effective and efficient. By design and law, security cooperation (and security assistance) are disaggregated in their planning, management, and execution. In effect, the greatest impediment to the U.S. Government providing partner nations with more effective advice and assistance is the singular lack of one focal point overseeing a partner’s defense reform efforts. The lack of such a needed epicenter has enabled institutions and individuals conveniently to ignore the political nature of their efforts, let alone designating officials personally vested in the success of these efforts. Currently, as seen manifested in language and actions, SC and SA are governed by committees, managed by coordination, and executed in the alleged spirit of professed amicable cooperation.37 Is it little wonder, then, that hard political (partner and U.S.) choices and decisions are eschewed, and in the end, all stakeholders are judged as equally deserving?

Peshmerga soldier climbs through window during building assault training at Bnaslawa, Iraq, on February 2, 2017, as part of critical training provided by Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve (U.S. Army/Ian Ryan)
Peshmerga soldier climbs through window during building assault training at Bnaslawa, Iraq, on February 2, 2017, as part of critical training provided by Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve (U.S. Army/Ian Ryan)
Peshmerga soldier climbs through window during building assault training at Bnaslawa, Iraq, on February 2, 2017, as part of critical training provided by Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve (U.S. Army/Ian Ryan)
Peshmerga soldier climbs through window during building assault training at Bnaslawa, Iraq, on February 2, 2017, as part of critical training provided by Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve (U.S. Army/Ian Ryan)
Peshmerga soldier climbs through window during building assault training at Bnaslawa, Iraq, on February 2, 2017, as part of critical training provided by Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve (U.S. Army/Ian Ryan)
Photo By: Ian Ryan
VIRIN: 200910-D-BD104-013

If Congress cannot address this key weakness in DOD (for political reasons), it should be stated as such and the politically nuanced nature of these activities expressly acknowledged in policy. At least, in such a circumstance, the likelihood of failure will be known to all, and perhaps DOD and Congress will be more realistic in their expectations. Or, faced with this reality, Congress could assign responsibility for reforming partner defense institutions to the National Security Council, thereby elevating responsibility and accountability for success/failure above DOD and the State Department. After all, it is in the national interest of the U.S. Government that a partner nation should create new, or reform existing, public institutions; thus, the highest political level of an administration needs to be involved to ensure that roles, missions, authority, and performance expectations are clearly established and accepted. By making security cooperation and security assistance the apotheosis of politics, providers finally will be better led and politically supported when delivering advice and assistance to partner nations. JFQ

Notes

1 Gordon Craig, The Politics of the Prussian Army, 1640–1945 (London: Oxford University Press, 1955).

2 Hew Strachan, The Politics of the British Army (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997); John Whittam, The Politics of the Italian Army, 1861–1918 (London: Croom Helm, 1976); Brian D. Taylor, Politics and the Russian Army: Civil-Military Relations, 1689–2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Alistair Horne, The French Army and Politics, 1870–1970 (New York: Peter Bedrick, 1984).

3 No less an authority than Admiral William J. Crowe stated, “Like all other important decisions, those made about the Nation’s defense are fundamentally political.” William J. Crowe, Jr., The Line of Fire, with David Chanoff (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993), 234.

4 Samuel P. Huntington, The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1985), chap. 8.

5 See National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, Public Law 114-328, 130 Stat. 2481, 114th Cong., 2nd sess. (December 23, 2016), § 1217, “Improvement of oversight of United States Government efforts in Afghanistan.”

6 See Kevin Sullivan and Greg Jaffe, “Collapse of Iraqi Army a Failure for Nation’s Premier and for U.S. Military,” Washington Post, June 12, 2014.

7 Denis M. Tull, “Rebuilding Mali’s Army: The Dissonant Relationship Between Mali and Its International Partners,” International Affairs 95, no. 2 (March 2019), 405–422.

8 As I argue in Thomas-Durell Young, Anatomy of Post-Communist European Defense Institutions: The Mirage of Military Modernity (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017).

9 Mara Karlin, “Why Military Assistance Programs Disappoint: Minor Tools Can’t Solve Major Problems,” Foreign Affairs 96, no. 6 (November–December 2017).

10 Beth Grill et al., Follow the Money: Promoting Greater Transparency in Department of Defense Security Cooperation Reporting (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2017), iii.

11 I discuss this point in great detail in Thomas-Durell Young, “The United States: Planning and Managing Control and Effectiveness,” in Civil-Military Relations: Control and Effectiveness Across Regimes, ed. Thomas C. Bruneau and Aurel Croissant (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2019), 55–68.

12 (1) Recruiting; (2) organizing; (3) supplying; (4) equipping (including research and development); (5) training; (6) servicing; (7) mobilizing; (8) demobilizing; (9) administering (including the morale and welfare of personnel); (10) maintaining; (11) the construction, outfitting, and repair of military equipment; and (12) the construction, maintenance, and repair of buildings, structures, and utilities and the acquisition of real property and interests in real property necessary to carry out the responsibilities specified in this section. Note that the three military departments’ functions are the same but stated separately in law. See 10 U.S.C. § 3013 (U.S. Army), 10 U.S.C. § 5013 (U.S. Navy), and 10 U.S.C. § 8013 (U.S. Air Force).

13 113 U.S.C. § 1201, “Strategic Framework for Department of Defense Security Cooperation.”

14 Tina S. Kaidanow, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, “Opening Statement to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,” 115th Cong., 1st sess., September 26, 2017, available at <www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/092617_Kaidanow_Testimony.pdf>.

15 Andrew Bacevich, The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

16 Thomas Manacapilli et al., Optimizing the Defense Language Institute English Language Center, TR-1152-AF (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2012).

17 See Jesse Dillon Savage and Jonathan D. Caverley, “When Human Capital Threatens the Capitol: Foreign Aid in the Form of Military Training and Military-Backed Coups,” Journal of Peace Research 54, no. 4 (July 2017), available at <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0022343317713557>.

18 David Trilling, “U.S. Trained Militaries More Likely to Overthrow Their Governments,” Journalist’s Resource, August 30, 2017, available at <https://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/security-military/american-trained-militaries-overthrow-governments/>.

19 Charles Michael Johnson, Jr., International Military Education and Training: Agencies Should Emphasize Human Rights Training and Improve Evaluations, U.S. Government Accountability Office Report 12-123 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2011).

20 Duncan L. Clarke, Daniel B. O’Connor, and Jason D. Ellis, Send Guns and Money: Security Assistance and U.S. Foreign Policy (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997), 20–22.

21 Marybeth Peterson Ulrich, Democratizing Communist Militaries: The Case of the Czech and Russian Armed Forces (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000), 156–157.

22 David Zucchino, “The U.S. Spent $8 Billion on Afghanistan’s Air Force. It’s Still Struggling,” New York Times, January 10, 2019.

23 Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Divided Responsibility: Lessons from U.S. Security Sector Assistance Efforts in Afghanistan, SIGAR-19-39-LL (Washington, DC: SIGAR, June 2019).

24 David E. Thaler et al., From Patchwork to Framework: A Review of Title 10 Authorities for Security Cooperation (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2016).

25 Charles W. Hooper, “Opening Statement: Managing Security Assistance to Support Foreign Policy,” Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 115th Cong., 1st sess., September 26, 2017.

26 “Implementation of the Department of Defense Security Cooperation Workforce Certification Program,” memorandum for Secretaries of the Military Departments, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, December 23, 2019.

27 Aaron Mehta, “A ‘Virtual’ Security Cooperation University Is Coming Soon,” Defense News, October 10, 2010, available at <www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/ausa/2018/10/10/a-virtual-security-cooperation-university-is-coming-soon/>.

28 Department of Defense Directive 5132.03, DOD Policy and Responsibilities Relating to Security Cooperation (Washington, DC: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, December 29, 2016), available at <www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodd/513203_dodd_2016.pdf>.

29 Department of Defense Directive 5205.82, Defense Institution Building (Washington, DC: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, January 27, 2016), available at <www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodd/520582p.pdf>.

30 Department of Defense Instruction 5132.14, Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation Policy for the Security Cooperation Enterprise (Washington, DC: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, January 13, 2017), 14.

31 Jefferson P. Marquis et al., Developing an Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation Framework for U.S. Department of Defense Security Cooperation (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2016), iii.

32 “Assessment, monitoring, and evaluation of security cooperation programs will foster accurate and transparent reporting on the outcomes and sustainability of security cooperation, improve returns on DOD security cooperation investment, and identify and disseminate best practices and lessons learned to inform decisions on security cooperation policy, plans, programs, and resources.” See Todd Harvey, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities, “Opening Statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” 115th Cong., 1st sess., September 26, 2017.

33 A point the author argues in Thomas-Durell Young, “Impediment to Reform in European Post-Communist Defense Institutions: Addressing the Conceptual Divide,” Problems in Post-Communism 65, no. 3 (2018), 161–174.

34 DOD Instruction 5132.14, Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation Policy for the Security Cooperation Enterprise.

35 Thomas Bruneau, “Challenges in Building Partner Capacity: Civil-Military Relations in the United States and New Democracies,” Small Wars & Insurgencies 26, no. 3 (March 2015), 435.

36 Karlin, “Why Military Assistance Programs Disappoint.”

37 “This has made it all the more important that we work closely with our partners at DOD to ensure a unified approach,” in Kaidanow, “Opening Statement to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.”