Thursday, April 22, 2010

Security Assistance

AFA Members, Congressional Staffers, Civic Leaders, DOCA members, this week an important piece was published in Foreign Affairs. It was written by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. In the piece, Sec Gates calls for an improved process in the US government for building partner capacity. He, like Sec Rumsfeld before him, believes that the security sectors of at-risk countries are really systems of systems tying together the military, the police, the justice system, and other governance and oversight mechanisms. As such, building a partner's overall governance and security capacity is a shared responsibility across multiple agencies and departments of the US national security apparatus. And that process is cumbersome and needs improvement.

I urge you to read the piece - carefully and critically. As with all pieces I send you, I don't expect you to necessarily agree … and I urge you to look for assumptions in the piece. These assumptions may prove to be accurate … but they are assumptions none-the-less. I found many, such as:

The best way to take down terror networks is to do nation-building

The best way to do nation-building is to improve over-all governance and security capacity

The best way to improve over-all governance and security capacity is to share doing that across multiple agency and departments of the US national security apparatus

You can find the piece at:

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association


luftwaffen-Jo said...

I am really wondering, why Sec Gates comes up with this very obvious vision just now. Did he not listen what independent thinkers told in 2002 and before? Lot's of time and many casualties wasted following naive conclusions of poorly educated leaders for 8 years.

Unknown said...

The article is wrong, wrong, wrong and I agree with Mike Dunn on his exceptions to the article. No one ever heard of nation building until Kosovo and no one approved of it then. We should listen to the voices of our founding fathers and everyone down through the begining of WWII. That advice was to avoid foreign entanglemens at all costs. We think we are building nations when we give them aid. All we are are doing is establishing a welfare state where the citizens don't need to work because of our generosity. As a foreign policy we need to concentrate on our nation's security using both offensive and defense means. Keeping our nation secure is the only one sanctioned by our Constitution and it will not be done by nation building but by making our country so strong that no one will dare to attack us. With our current foreign and DOD policies we will just be getting ourselves deeper and deeper in to a quagmire of foreign relations with no benefit to the security of this country at all. When we leave Iraq and Afghanistan they will just resort back to the old nomatic war lord system that has governed their countries since Marco Polo traveled the land.

Bob Kjar

wfalcon said...

"Been there, done that."

Secretary Gates is McNamara redux. We got it wrong in Vietnam, and we are repeating the mistake in Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency/nation building is a black hole where lives, money, and resources disappear without a trace.

The NVA was always the ultimate enemy that had to be defeated if the US were to prevail in Vietnam. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and to a lesser extent Richard Nixon, pretended that this was not the case, and consequently they misled themselves and the American people that victory depended on counterinsurgency and nation building. If we had destroyed the DRV in 1966, as was within our power, there would have been no VC or NVA, and consequently, no 58,000+ US KIA. As it was, the failure to accurately identify the enemy's center of gravity had tragic results for America.

There is one more fatal structural flaw in the counterinsurgency strategy that was relevant to our failure in Vietnam, but is even more relevant in Afghanistan. The underlying premise of counterinsurgency rests on the unproven assumption that the indigenous personnel can be "taught" to be democratic, honest, and efficient by US counterinsurgency forces. This unproven assumption is based on another faulty assumption: That insurgents are motivated by a desire for Western or "modern" democratic and capitalistic values. US counterinsurgent thinkers and warriors have not grasped that these values are the antitheses of what motivates the Taliban and their recruits.

In Afghanistan the problem is not nation building of a failed Afghan government, it is instead Sharia-Islam and Islamic Jihad. The 66-page report from General Stanley McChrystal mistakenly continues the politically correct position regarding Shariah-Islam that was erroneously adopted by President George Bush. This erroneous position is that Islamic Jihadists are misinterpreting the Qur'an by promoting violence in the name of Islam. According to the McChrystal report, this theological error by the Taliban is their Achilles' heel that can be attacked by convincing the Afghani tribesmen that the Taliban's interpretation of the Qur'an is wrong!

On the contrary, the Taliban and villagers who are rallying to the Taliban are not fighting because Afghanistan has a failed government. Afghanistan has always had a failed government. The Taliban are fighting and winning because they are convincing Afghanis that Shariah instructs them to kill or subdue the infidels -- native Afghani non-believers (that is, non-Sharia practicing Muslims) and "kafir" foreigners. McChrystal's report accepts the horribly flawed sociological analytical framework that 7th century Afghani tribesmen are fighting because they don't have a Jeffersonian democracy and clean water.

On the contrary, these 7th century tribesmen are fighting to preserve 1200 year old traditions underscored by an Islamic legal doctrine - Shariah -- that demands nothing less than total submission. Any war strategy that fails to recognize that Islamic Jihad derived from classical and quite authoritative Shariah is the enemy's doctrinal template and therefore their motivation is bound to fail, just as the Vietnam strategy that did not recognize the centrality of the DRV, caused the failure in that war.

Unknown said...

Our security will continues to be threatened until and unless we stop handing tax free businesses to drug cartels around the world. It is past the time to legalize drugs that are now illegal and put every cent into education and health care while denying the income to those who use the money to make us insecure. Machiavelli had it right. Bring the troublemakers inside where an eye can be kept on the.

CTWG PA said...

Establishing a sense of security brings foreign direct investment, encourages connectivity, encourages learning, encourages job creation, encourages nation building...because no one likes to loose what they have and would take more if they believed they could get it - totalitarian govt cant encourage that growth curve, only a representitive form can encourage it, only security and nation building can make it happen.