Category Archives: Security Cooperation

Lesley on Africa LOVES Fieldwork (or In Praise of Fieldwork)

As the title of this post so emphatically declares, I love when my projects require fieldwork. I’m working on a project in FY13 that has had me traveling to African Country A (Niger), African Country B (Chad), African Country C (Mali), African Country D (Senegal), African Country E (Morocco), African Country F (Algeria) and African Country G (Nigeria). (I’m currently in African Country H and am traveling to African Country I in early September.) And because of my fieldwork, I’m being forced to learn more about these countries and the United States’ relationship with them.

I love doing fieldwork not because I enjoy the unending abuse from Delta/Air France, but rather because I’m a hands-on learner. On this project and the others that preceded it, I’ve found that the assumptions I had before conducting fieldwork were contradicted, or my understanding of how a process did or did not work became more nuanced. I’ve learned, as government-types like to put it, how the sausage is made, and why said sausage sometimes comes out as a cob of corn to the dismay of the people responsible for designing and implementing programs. There is very little that can substitute for this type of learning experience.

Here’s an example of the types of things I’ve learned during my fieldwork in various African countries. Out of necessity, this description is in the abstract and combines the characteristics of multiple countries:

The United States sees the extremist Prophet’s Revolutionary Militia (PRM) as a threat and makes countering the PRM a focus of its programs in the neighboring African countries of Azania and Matobo. However various U.S. government agencies perceive the PRM threat differently and can’t agree on a comprehensive approach. State is concerned about the militarization of U.S. foreign policy, while DoD believes the U.S. isn’t doing enough to counter the threat. Dissenters from both agencies believe the PRM isn’t even the right threat to be countering, and that U.S. programs should have a more comprehensive approach to support state stability. However, Azania and Matobo are marginal to global U.S. strategic interests, and a more comprehensive approach reeks of nation-building √† la Iraq & Afghanistan. No thank you.

All U.S. government agencies are on the same page about working with the government of Azania because it has a history of democratic transitions, there’s freedom of the press, and the military has a close, longstanding relationship with the U.S. In Matobo, it’s a different story. The State Department is reluctant to work with the government of Matobo, which is a corrupt, nepotist dictatorship. The Defense Department, however, sees Matobo as a key counterterrorism ally and would like to increase military assistance, but State is concerned about governance, human rights, and upsetting the local balance of power within the country. The difference of U.S. government views on Matobo creates discord between State and DoD, whereas interagency relations with regard to Azania are much smoother.

The U.S. government wants Azania and Matobo to increase regional security cooperation to go after the PRM. Yet, Azania and Matobo are reluctant to work together to counter the PRM because the former believes the latter’s military intelligence leaks like a sieve and there are whispers that people in the Matobolese government have a tacit agreement not to go after the extremist group. In addition, Azania and Matobo have historical animosities due to Azania’s support for the independence movement in the Zangaro region of Matobo. This is why when the U.S. tries to hold multilateral exercises or regional conferences geared towards facilitating regional security cooperation that are held in either country, Azania will invite everyone but Matobo, and vice versa. This refusal to work together persists even though the PRM is increasingly gaining revenue from smuggling along the Azania-Matobo border.

Although limited by State’s resistance to military engagement, DoD conducts minimal training in Matobo. However, they routinely have to change their security cooperation plans if an exercise is planned when the dictator is in Europe receiving medical treatment. This is because no military assets are allowed to move if he is out of the country – this is how he prevents a coup. Engagement is also delayed by requirements to do Leahy vetting for each unit. In a country like Azania that has a long history of military professionalism this is not a problem, but the majority of units in the Matobolese military have been accused of involvement in the country’s three most recent coups, as well as of human rights violations within the disputed territory of Zangaro – even though the Zangaro incidents happened 20 years ago and didn’t involve the current soldiers in the tainted units. On top of this, Matobo is not great at keeping records, so it’s difficult for the U.S. to ascertain who was and was not involved in these violations. And on top of that, there’s a dispute within various elements of the U.S. government as to whether these units were involved in these violations. And on top of that, the dictator recently attempted to change the constitution to stay in power another 5 years, so the military just deposed him and intends to support a transition to democracy in 9 months. Since this is technically an unconstitutional change of government, all U.S. military assistance has been cut off.

The money originally designated for Matobo is reprogrammed to help Azania develop more robust border security, but both the Embassy and the Azanian security forces have a problem with absorptive capacity. Since Azania is a permissive environment for government & NGO programs and has few mechanisms to coordinate and deconflict these programs, funds obligated for Azania are not spent until two fiscal years later. In addition, donor nations eventually discover that they have parallel training programs that are training the Azanians on conflicting doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).

The current Azanian president is very receptive to receiving more specialized military training from the U.S. However, the U.S. wants to train Azanian forces to go after the extremist PRM, while the Azanian government sees the PRM as more of a U.S. and European problem. Plus, everyone knows the PRM has a safe haven in Matobo from which they launch attacks into Azania, and the Azanians are annoyed that Matobo isn’t pulling its weight in countering the PRM. To complicate matters, the Azanian force designated for U.S. training is not well resourced by the Azanian government because they only have a Captain in charge of their unit. Other Azanian security forces, which may have overlapping missions and compete for influence, have Brigadier Generals in charge and they have the background and political capital to ensure that their forces are well resourced. For these reasons, the force led by the Captain stays in a training cycle and never becomes an operational force that can operate independent of U.S. assistance. Therefore, specialized training never takes root in Azania.

Oh and guess what. There’s been an election and the new Azanian president was indicted by the ICC for his alleged incitement of violence during a previous election cycle, so security cooperation is now experiencing a “strategic pause.” The Azanians have wisely anticipated that U.S. military assistance has strings attached and they’ve recently diversified their security cooperation relationships. They now receive most of their training from European Country X and Asian Country Y.

Hopefully, this little story gives you a sense of the types of factors I’ve come to understand better once I see them in play ūüôā

Guest Post – AFRICOM’s Impact on International and Human Security: A Case Study of Tanzania

This is a guest post by Mikenna Maroney, a MA Candidate in International Security at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies. She is currently a David L. Boren Fellow in Tanzania studying Swahili language and conducting research for her MA thesis on AFRICOM. Ms. Maroney seeks additional contacts with expertise on Tanzanian security policy, and can be reached for comment at

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was established in 2008 due to growing awareness of Africa’s strategic significance to U.S. interests and international security. AFRICOM was presented as a new type of combatant command that would address traditional and human security threats through a pioneering interagency approach and structure, in addition to partner capacity building. AFRICOM would integrate significant numbers of personnel from the State Department, USAID, and other interagency organizations. U.S. officials asserted this would allow the command to address the root causes and, ultimately, prevent conflict and instability.

The creation of AFRICOM, the complexity of its mission, and the threats present in the region give rise to questions regarding AFRICOM’s impact in executing U.S. national security policy in Africa, addressing human security issues, and its ability to foster a positive image of itself and U.S. national security policy. To explore these issues, my Master’s thesis research is a case study of Tanzania. I chose Tanzania as a case study on AFRICOM because I felt that it is an often overlooked actor in the East African security environment. I was also interested in examining how AFRICOM currently engages with African states not engaged in an ongoing conflict and its ability to foster bi-lateral relations with a state that has, at times, had a strained relationship with the U.S.

While often overshadowed by neighboring states Tanzania’s long-standing stability, history of mediating regional conflicts (most notably the Burundian civil war), contributions to peacekeeping missions, and hosting of regional and international organization such as the East African Community (EAC) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), make it an important actor in the often volatile East Africa region. Yet Tanzania faces similar threats as its neighbors including illicit narcotic trafficking, piracy, and terrorism. Tanzania also faces pervasive threats to human security. As one of the world’s poorest countries, economic development fails to reach the majority of the population, resulting in poor health and education systems, as well as the world’s 12th highest HIV/AIDS infection rate.

A strategic U.S.-Tanzanian relationship is critical for countering the threats Tanzania faces and bolstering the country’s capacity to address ongoing regional conflicts and humanitarian crises. This research seeks to answer three questions: What is the impact of AFRICOM in executing U.S. national security policy in Tanzania? How and to what extent has AFRICOM addressed the conditions of human insecurity? Does AFRICOM foster a positive public perception within Tanzania?

The initial findings have shown that Tanzania extensively engages with AFRICOM through its security cooperation programs and exercises. Former AFRICOM Commander Gen. Carter Ham singled out this partnership in his recent remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee stating, ‚ÄúWe are deepening our relationship with the Tanzanian military, a professional force whose capabilities and influence increasingly bear on regional security issues in eastern and southern Africa and the Great Lakes region.‚ÄĚ Indeed, Tanzania‚Äôs contribution of troops to the recently authorized UN offensive combat force in Eastern Congo illustrates the important peace and security role the country plays in the region and the necessity of its military having the capacity to fulfill this role.

In terms of how and to what extent AFRICOM addresses Tanzania’s human security issues, this research has found the command’s activities fit those of a more traditional combatant command; emphasizing military-to-military partner capacity building and engagement. While many of AFRICOM’s programs (MEDCAP, Partner Military HIV/AIDS, Pandemic Response, and VETCAP) focus on human security related issues, they are directed at the Tanzanian military. Regarding public perceptions, Tanzanians have more knowledge and interest than I was led to believe would be the case with public opinion of AFRICOM oscillating between negative and neutral.

Tanzania faces significant security threats both internally and regionally. Although these initial findings have not found that AFRICOM is addressing human security issues in the broader population, AFRICOM is building the Tanzanian military’s capacity to address and prevent instability and conflict, serving Tanzanian, regional, and U.S. security interests.

Capacity-Building Key to AFRICOM’s Mission

(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)

Senate considers funding cuts to Kenyan security forces over human rights abuses (Part II)

In my last post, I wrote about how the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations had asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to submit a report to the Committee to verify that the U.S. government is not providing security assistance to Kenyan military or police personnel who may have been involved in human rights abuses in Mt. Elgon in March 2008 and in North Eastern Province between November 2011 and January 2012. In her report, Secretary Clinton is to document the steps the Government of Kenya has taken to conduct thorough, credible investigations of such violations.

In order to get a sense of the scale of the funding that may be at stake, let’s take a short crash course on security assistance funding. It’ll be fun, I promise.

Without getting too down in the weeds on U.S. security assistance, the Secretary of State maintains oversight for some security assistance under Title 22 (Foreign Assistance) of the U.S. Code. However,¬†under Title 10 (Armed Services) of the U.S. Code, the Secretary of Defense has oversight of Section 1206 funds. This gives the Secretary of Defense¬†the authority to train and equip foreign military forces for two specified purposes ‚ÄĒ to enable foreign military forces to perform counterterrorism operations, and to enable foreign military forces to participate in or to support military and stability operations in which U.S. armed forces are participating. (For background on the origins and future of Section 1206 funding, see the Congressional Research Service report¬†Security Assistance Reform: ‚ÄúSection 1206‚ÄĚ Background and Issues for Congress¬†or the Government Accountability Office report¬†Section 1206 Security Assistance Program‚ÄĒFindings on Criteria, Coordination, and Implementation.) There are other Title 10 authorities, but to be quite honest, some of this security assistance data is so opaque that efforts to dig up what other Title 10 funding Kenya might receive may be futile.

No matter who maintains the authorities for security assistance, funding is supposed to comply with the Leahy Amendment of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which stipulates that all units scheduled to receive training or equipment should be vetted so as to ensure that the U.S. government is not funding security forces that have been involved in gross human rights violations.

According to the FY13 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations, Kenya receives the following Title 22 funds:

Type of Funding

FY11 Actual

FY12 Estimate

FY13 Request

Foreign Military Financing (FMF)





International Military Education and Training (IMET)




International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE)




Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR)




As a caveat, this may not be an all-inclusive list of Title 22 funds, as Kenya may receive additional assistance on a regional basis as a part of the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT) ‚Äď a multi-disciplinary, interagency counterterrorism initiative formerly known as the East Africa Regional Strategic Initiative (EARSI).¬†Regardless, we can still see that¬†in accordance with the request of the¬†Senate¬†Committee on Appropriations report, and¬†based on the FY13 Request in the Congressional Budget Justification, Secretary Clinton will have to verify that at least¬†$9.8M of Title 22 security assistance funding would not be going towards Kenyan military or police personnel who may have been involved in human rights abuses.

Kenya also receives¬†Section 1206 funds, which do not fall under State Department oversight, since they are Title 10 funds. I do not have visibility over what Kenya may have received in FY12¬†or what may be planned for FY13. But as a reference,¬†Kenya received $46.5M in Section 1206 funds¬†between FY06¬†and FY11. To break that down, that’s $25.9M between FY06¬†and FY09, $8.5M in FY10, and $12.1M in FY11.¬†

The question I’m left with is, if the Secretary of State must verify that Title 22 funds are not allocated to Kenyan security forces involved in human rights abuses, is the secretary of Defense being asked to carry out a similar investigation for Title 10 funds? Or is there a reason the Title 22 funds for Kenya are being placed under special scrutiny?

New AFRICOM Brigade a Test Case for a Leaner Pentagon

(Originally published in World Politics Review on June 5, 2012)

With budgetary constraints looming and global priorities shifting, the U.S. military is in the process of pursuing leaner and more adaptive ways to achieve U.S. national security objectives around the globe. This effort is in accordance with the Department of Defense’s (DOD) 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance (.pdf), which recognizes the need for the military to rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region and sustain its focus on the Middle East, while maintaining current defense commitments in other parts of the world. One of the new approaches being developed is the Regionally Aligned Brigade concept, through which each regional combatant command (COCOM) would be assigned an Army brigade to advise, train and mentor partner nation security forces throughout their respective areas of responsibility (AORs).

In fiscal year 2013, the pilot rotation for the Regionally Aligned Brigade concept will be conducted by U.S. Army Africa, the Army component of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). This means that for the first time since it was established as a unified combatant command in October 2008, Africom will have assigned forces that will deploy from bases in the continental United States to select locations in Africa on a rotational basis. More complex than simply ‚Äúsending U.S. troops to Africa,‚ÄĚ the Regionally Aligned Brigade concept indicates that the military recognizes the need to develop a more efficient force management system and explore a smaller, lighter concept of operations. In so doing, it will seek to maintain a global presence to address transnational threats while preserving lessons learned from working with local security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. …

(Read the rest of the article on the World Politics Review website)

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