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Jan. 1, 2016

Enhancing Security Cooperation Effectiveness: A Model for Capability Package Planning

Developing key capabilities of partner nation militaries is an important pillar of U.S. national defense strategy. In critical missions, such as military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, building armed forces from the bottom up occupies a central role in overall campaign strategies. Elsewhere, the United States is seeking to develop the capabilities of select partner militaries to help them conduct or support distinct missions, such as counterterrorism or counterproliferation, to diminish risks to U.S. security. Enabling collective action through partner capacity-building plays as a leitmotif throughout President Barack Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy, which asserts that “in addition to acting decisively to defeat direct threats, we will focus on building the capacity of others to prevent the causes and consequences of conflict to include countering extreme and dangerous ideologies.”1 The strategy expresses U.S. commitment to strengthening the capabilities of partners to fight terrorism, support peacekeeping missions, deter aggression, prevent conflict, and respond to regional crises.

Jan. 1, 2016

Advising the Afghan Air Force

Successful advising requires skill in a broad range of competencies that includes political-military relations, operations, and acquisitions. Advising the Afghan air force’s airlift mission seeks to strengthen the legitimacy of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as part of the counterinsurgency strategy of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Training at the U.S. Air Force’s Air Advisor Academy supports the initial qualification of students as air advisors, while additional lessons are gleaned from studying the Soviet experience in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Finally, developing effective advising postures can be guided by a conceptual model that incorporates ideas outlined in Colonel John Boyd’s essay “Destruction and Creation”1 and by systems engineering techniques. This article breaks down the essential components of a successful air advising posture, applies it to the mission in Afghanistan, and concludes with a summary of key points and suggested areas for improvement.

Jan. 1, 2016

Eight Signs Our Afghan Efforts Are Working

As the defense attaché tasked with reopening the U.S. Defense Attaché Office in Kabul, Afghanistan, beginning in late 2014, I had the opportunity to watch “fighting season 2015” unfold from a proximate vantage point.1 I returned with the impression that Afghanistan is better than it might have been—and stable enough to warrant continued investment. In this article, I contend that the high level of American (and Western) pessimism regarding Afghanistan’s security status deserves reexamination. I offer some thoughts on why pessimism has come to dominate policy debates on Afghanistan, as well as observations on the realities of Afghanistan in 2014–2015 that merit balanced reassessment. I then conclude with eight observations that provide some basis for optimism for 2016 and beyond.