U.S. Involvement in Africa Needs Reform
Focus Must be On Security Assurance, not Capacity Building: NCPA
April 19, 2016
The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act must reform the military’s financial commitment to the Trans-Saharan partnerships, and its counterterrorism and “capacity-building” efforts in Africa, according to a new study by National Center for Policy Analysis Senior Fellow David Grantham.
Capacity building, similar to nation building, aims to create stability by modernizing a country’s government, economy, and society; all in hopes of lessening the appeal and sway of radical ideologies.
“In the past 56 years, there’s little evidence to support the idea that rebuilding and restoring developing nations is successful in stopping the spread of a dangerous ideology, such as radical Islamic terrorism,” says Grantham. “Instead of cutting U.S. troop levels, we should reform the military’s role in these expensive U.S. security assistance programs. They don’t work, and we desperately need that funding elsewhere.”
Grantham suggests a number of reforms within the 2017 NDAA, including:
Changing the language and defining the threat. The NDAA is a place to begin changing the language by specifying the threat we face. Ultimately, the words we use define the mission and rules of engagement.
Ensuring military investment is proportional to interests. Congress could require that the Pentagon perform a cost-benefit analysis for the Trans-Sahara partnership program. The Defense Department could justify expenditures by explaining how money facilitated tactical achievements within broader national security objectives.
Finding savings within different programs. To save money, Congress should look to the long list of counterterrorism programs or other appropriation accounts not subject to sequestration to fund Defense Department activity before considering additional troop reductions.
Reassigning defense duties to international peacekeeping operations. American taxpayers can expect to provide upward of $2.3 billion for U.N. peacekeeping programs in fiscal year 2015-2016. The Pentagon should scale back its role in partner programs and encourage greater reliance on efforts that already consume billions of dollars in U.S. tax revenue.
Dedicating funds to a quick reaction force. Congress could also approach Africa with a precise “identify-the-threat” mindset and dedicate Defense Department resources to defeat the threat.
“Africa is only one example of a broader agenda for U.S. security assistance policy in developing nations,” says Grantham. “We don’t want to contribute to the same problems in Africa that we helped create in Latin America in the 1970 and 1980’s, where U.S. intervention incited the rise of multiple dictatorships.”
To see more of the NCPA’s work on reducing waste through the NDAA, visit our petition at: http://www.ncpa.org/petition
The Military, Nation-Building and Counterterrorism in Africa: http://www.ncpa.org/pub/the-military-nation-building-and-counterterrorism-in-africa