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Exporting Security: International Engagement Security Cooperation and the Changing Face of the U.S. Military

Exporting Security: International Engagement Security Cooperation and the Changing Face of the U.S. Military by Derek S. Reveron. Georgetown University Press, 2010, 176 pp.

In maintaining its learning curve, the military has learned to embrace as well as engage in partnership by adapting its “command structure once optimized for waging major combat to one that is focused on conflict prevention” (p. 1). This book seeks to analyze the strategic rationale for these activities and explore how they take “place to analyze the shift from coercive diplomacy to military engagements” (p. 6). In chapters 1 and 2, Reveron examines the tendency to employ the military in other-than-warfare missions and discusses the rationale for these security assistance activities. President Obama inherited a military focus on security assistance and continues to employ it to further his “aim of promoting multilateralism and aiding countries in need [such as] the United States, Europe, Russia, China, India, Japan and South Korea coordinated actions to deter piracy in the Gulf of Aden” (p. 7). In the most basic and convenient definition of the word, “engagement is about managing relationships, not command and control; it is about cooperation, not fighting; and it is about partnership, not dominance” (p. 44). In addition to increasing US influence through military engagement, both policymakers and senior military officers have learned that it is far more effective to prevent state failure than to respond to its aftermath. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described this new thinking: “In a world as increasingly interconnected as ours, the international state system is only as strong as its weakest links. We cannot afford another situation like the one that emerged in 2001 in Afghanistan” (p. 46). As a result, the US military has changed to deliver comprehensive solutions through a new model of defense—“security cooperation in the most basic sense” (p. 49).

The next chapter explores instances of resistance to security assistance and explains why the military now embraces this a core function. There is deep skepticism of these roles and missions coming from Congress, the Department of State, development NGOs, and from some in the military itself. They fear that traditional aid and diplomacy agencies will be marginalized by the military and that government money will be directed away from the NGO development community. Adversaries within the military structure fear it will “lose its capacity and ethos for major combat operations and it will be ill suited for an uncertain future characterized by the rise of China” (p. 7).

Reveron examines how the “U.S. military has changed through the process of demilitarizing combatant commands and supporting other countries’ militaries . . . The analysis suggests that security assistance is conducted in a tailored way that takes into account differing U.S. interests and local conditions.” (ibid.). The United States provides weapons in the Middle East, medical assistance in Africa, and training and education in Latin America. Furthermore, the US Navy is promoting maritime security globally. The military is filling a void in the US foreign assistance community by adapting its command structure to include nonmilitary personnel and private organizations to promote security and stability.

The Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative (GPOI) offers seven core objectives: (1) train and equip at least 7,500 peacekeepers worldwide, with an emphasis on Africa, to increase global capacity to participate in peace programs; (2) enhance the capacity of regional and subregional organizations to train for, plan, prepare for, manage, conduct, and obtain and sustain lessons learned from peace operations by providing technical assistance, training, and material support and support institutions and activities which offer these capabilities to a regional audience; (3) create a “clearinghouse” function to exchange information and coordinate G8 efforts to enhance peace operations training and exercises in Africa; (4) work with other G8 members to develop a globally oriented transportation and logistics support arrangement to help provide transportation for deploying peacekeepers and logistics support to sustain units in the field; (5) develop a cached equipment program to procure and warehouse equipment for use in peace operations anywhere around the globe; (6) provide support to the international Center of Excellence for Stability Policy Units (COESPU) in Italy to increase the capabilities and interoperability of stability police to participate in peace operations; and (7) conduct sustain/self-sufficiency activities in support of the objectives above with a focus on assisting partners to sustain proficiencies gained in training programs (p. 115).

The author explores the implications for the military’s force structure. While it may be obvious “what capabilities the U.S. military needs to defeat an adversary’s submarine, determining what capabilities are necessary to professionalize a partner’s military or improve stability is not” (p. 8). Reveron offers a blueprint of “force planning implications when designing a military that emphasizes cooperation” and establishes the risk of ceding civilian responsibilities to military agencies and “of weakening the secretary of state’s primacy in setting the agenda for U.S. relations with foreign countries . . . The implications of these findings are also important for civil military relations theory” (ibid.).

The changes in security no longer allow an easy divide between war and peace. As General Petraeus told his troops in 2008, “you have contributed significantly to the communities in which you have operated. Indeed, you have been builders and diplomats, as well as guardians and warriors . . . Success is not contingent on being warriors alone; instead, military personnel must also be builders, diplomats, and guardians.” Reveron advocates that these chapters make a significant as well as empowering contribution in fulfilling the mission of “the military as an instrument for cooperation and informs how militaries should train and equip for the future” (ibid.).

"The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense."

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