(Originally published in World Politics Review on February 5, 2013)
Across the globe, partner capacity-building through steady-state theater security cooperation plays an increasingly important role in the forward defense posture of the United States. The Defense Department’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review identifies building the security capacity of partner states as a key mission, while the 2010 National Security Strategy argues that the United States can advance its national security by enabling partner states to prevent, deter and respond to transnational security challenges before they pose a threat to U.S. citizens, interests or the homeland. Moreover, at a time of budgetary constraints, partner capacity-building through theater security cooperation can be a means for sharing the cost and responsibility of responding to global security challenges, thus reducing the burden on U.S. resources and military personnel.
Throughout an area of responsibility that includes 53 countries, theater security cooperation is a core function for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). With an emphasis on promoting military professionalism, improving operational capabilities and facilitating regional cooperation, AFRICOM seeks to build the capacity of African militaries to prevent conflict as well as lead military responses to emerging crises if necessary, thus preventing transnational threats from transcending the African continent. Theater security cooperation also increases the likelihood that partner nations will allow U.S. forces peacetime and contingency access, which can be a critical enabler for missions such as the recent noncombatant evacuation operation from the U.S. Embassy in Bangui, Central African Republic, or countering piracy off the coast of Somalia.
(Read the rest of the article on the World Politics Review website)