Sunday, October 25, 2015

Troubled train-and-equip U.S. strategy sparks questions

This is going to get ugly before it gets better and unfortunately I am afraid there are those who will throw out the baby (UW, FID, political warfare, and counter-unconventional warfare) with the bathwater (a train and equip program that was doomed to failure from the start).  Of course there is a lot of mixing of apples and oranges.

But Congressman Cooper should also recognize and admit that our security assistance programs also stimulate US business as well (and for very legitimate and important reasons such as keeping assembly lines open should we need to again mobilize US industry to support a major war.)

Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., noted that in some respects, "security cooperation is almost a host-country stimulus program."

Troubled train-and-equip U.S. strategy sparks questions

  • by 9:02 A.M. Edt October 25, 2015 
  •  Oct. 25, 2015 
  •  6 min read 
  •  original
    • By Andrew Tilghman, Staff writer9:02 a.m. EDT October 25, 2015
It's been a humbling few weeks for the Pentagon's central strategy of training and equipping foreign forces to fight on the ground so U.S. troops don't have to.
In Syria, a yearlong effort to train and equip a moderate rebel force was abandoned as a failure.
In Iraq, the local army's campaign against the Islamic State remains stalled outside Ramadi despite support from daily U.S. airstrikes and thousands of boots-on-the-ground advisers.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban in September overran and seized a major city for the first time since 2001. A few weeks later, President Obama scrapped his timeline for ending the U.S. military mission there by the end of next year and said the Afghan army will need support from American troops into 2017.
The series of setbacks in short succession is prompting Washington to take an increasingly skeptical look at the train-and-equip model on which the U.S. military is hinging its strategy.
Congress is holding hearings about "security cooperation" policies. The Defense Department's inspector general is ratcheting up its scrutiny of the train-and-equip efforts. And military officials are facing new and pointed questions about when such missions no longer are worth the effort and should be deemed hopeless.
"I'm looking for some certain rules of the road, kind of like we have on the military intervention side with the Powell doctrine, you know, 'These eight preconditions must exist before you commit U.S. forces,' " Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, said in an Oct. 21 House Armed Services Committee hearing on security cooperation issues.
Experts say clear-cut rules are hard to define for security cooperation missions. Obviously, U.S. train-and-equip efforts are more effective when the countries involved are not embroiled in a war, when they have stable central governments, strong economies, functioning ministries of defense and can physically secure their own borders.
Unfortunately, those conditions are rare in many of the places where U.S. military personnel are currently embroiled.
"The hard question is, OK, if you don't have all those things, do you engage anyway?" asked Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
"What if you're in a messy place without a strong political infrastructure to work with — do we not engage? ... Do we engage with much lower expectations of what can result?" I don't know the answers," Thornberry said.
Stonewalling in Iraq
The DoD inspector general recently shed new light on the details of U.S. train-and-equip efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The IG, an independent watchdog, has launched a series of reports spotlighting the effectiveness of security cooperation efforts, and on Oct. 22 announced a new investigation into the Pentagon's effort to train, advise and equip Kurdish security forces.
(Continued at the link below)

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