When Foreign Policy Goals Exceed Military Capacity, Call The Pentagon

By Derek S. Reveron

Foreign Policy Research Institute

February 2013

E Note

With dozens of treaty allies and a strategic priority of promoting the sovereignty of weak states, the U.S. military has been gradually shifting from a force designed for confrontation to one intended to promote international cooperation. To be sure, the U.S. military retains a technical and doctrinal advantage as a warfighting entity. However, over the past two decades, the military has been incorporating new organizations, doctrine, and training to prioritize efforts to prevent war through security force assistance. This has shifted focus to weak states where sub-national (e.g., gangs in Central America) and trans-national security challenges (e.g., al-Qa’ida) jeopardize sovereignty and regional stability.  Consequently, countries such as the Philippines, Georgia, Colombia, Uganda, and Pakistan have requested security assistance from the United States. While level of support varies, U.S. forces are enabling partner countries to combat challenges that threaten their own stability.

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