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Thread: The flaws of through, by, and with

  1. #1
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Default The flaws of through, by, and with

    The following article challenges our baseless assumption that through, by, and with others is always the best approach. History indicates otherwise, and recent history simply reinforces that this approach has its limitations and only works in select situations. Where it does work, the results are fantastic. I suspect it is our desire to replicate those fantastic results in situations where the conditions don't exist for it to work that compel us to generally view this as the approach of choice. That is wrong headed, proven to be wrong headed, and this blind assumption causes Congressional leadership to threaten to pull money from all UW/FID programs. Not all are wrong headed, but since we fail to honestly assess what works and what doesn't we are simply going kill the approach across the board.

    Why foreign troops can’t fight our fights

    The programs rest on a theory embraced across the U.S. government: Sometimes direct military interventions do more harm than good, and indirect approaches get us further. The theory briefs well as a way to achieve U.S. goals without great expenditure of U.S. blood and treasure. Unfortunately, decades of experience (including the current messes in Iraq and Syria) suggest that the theory works only in incredibly narrow situations in which states need just a little assistance. In the most unstable places and in the largest conflagrations, where we tend to feel the greatest urge to do something, the strategy crumbles.
    It fails first and most basically because it hinges upon an alignment of interests that rarely exists between Washington and its proxies.
    Second, the security-assistance strategy gives too much weight to the efficacy of U.S. war-fighting systems and capabilities, assuming that they alone are enough to produce desired outcomes for both our foreign proxies and ourselves.
    The third problem with security assistance is that it risks further destabilizing already unstable situations and actually countering U.S. interests.
    A more humble approach is needed. We must think about security assistance the same way we think about long-term alliances, looking for alignments of interests, not convenience.
    This author's critique is valid, yet it doesn't invalidate FID and UW, it simply points to the fact, that for it to work, it is bigger than train and equip. Train and equip is a small subset of a greater whole that must be congruent. For example, diplomats must set realistic goals/expectations agreed upon by our partner. These goals need to focus it on mutually agreed ends. Once this hard task is out of the way, the assistance should be tailored to support those ends. It is worth revisiting the IDAD concept, and ensure our efforts are properly aligned and sustainable by the partner. More and more, both FID and UW is getting dumbed down to train and equip programs with no associated strategy on our end, and all to often no strategy mutually agreed upon with our partner.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 10-04-2015 at 08:42 PM.


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