NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Defense Dollars Are Wasted on Security Assistance

September 14, 2016

The House and Senate versions of the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act would give the Pentagon greater control over security assistance to other countries -- oversight now generally reserved to the State Department. A larger issue than the administration of funds, however, is that current security assistance programs are ineffective and often undermine American security.

In July 2016, the president announced that 8,400 American troops would remain in Afghanistan. A few days later, he announced the deployment of an additional 560 U.S. troops to Iraq. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) reminded the president that the added deployments were not funded under the current budget. Defense dollars channeled to ineffective security assistance programs -- a centerpiece of Obama administration defense policy -- could instead be used to fund these deployments.

Indeed, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) concluded that "it remains unclear whether building the capacity of foreign security forces is an effective way to accomplish U.S. strategic objectives." 

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