Helping Others Defend Themselves
insurgencies without using U.S. troopsin the kind of military interventions thathad proved so costly and controversial inKorea and Vietnam.
The global security environment haschanged radically since then, and today it is more complex, more unpredictable,and, even without a superpower adversary,in many ways more dangerous. The U.S.military, although resilient in spirit andmagniﬁcent in performance, is understress and strain ﬁghting two wars andconfronting diªuse challenges aroundthe globe. More broadly, there continuesto be a struggle for legitimacy, loyalty, andpower across the Islamic world betweenmodernizing, moderate forces and the violent, extremist organizations epitomizedby al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other suchgroups. In these situations, building thegovernance and security capacity of othercountries must be a critical element of U.S. national securitystrategy.For the most part, however,theUnited States’ instruments of nationalpower—militaryand civilian—weresetup in a diªerent erafor a verydiªerentset of threats. The U.S. militarywasdesigned to defeat other armies, navies,and air forces, not to advise, train, andequip them. Likewise, the United States’civilian instruments of power were de-signed primarily to manage relationshipsbetween states, rather than to help buildstates from within. The recent history ofU.S. dealings withAfghanistan and Pakistan exempliﬁes thechallenges the United States faces. Inthe decade before 9/11, the United Statesessentially abandoned Afghanistan to itsfate. At the same time, Washington cutoª military-to-military exchange andtraining programs with Pakistan, for well-intentioned but ultimately shortsighted—and strategically damaging—reasons.In the weeks and months followingthe 9/11 attacks, the U.S. governmentfaced a number of delays in getting crucialeªorts oª the ground—from reimbursingthe Pakistanis for their support (such astheir provision of overﬂight rights to U.S.military aircraft) to putting in place aformal Afghan military. The security assistance system, which was designedfor the more predictable requirements of the Cold War, proved unequal to the task. The U.S. government had to quickly assemble from scratch various urgently needed resources and programs. Andeven after establishing funding streamsand authorities, the military services didnot prioritize eªorts to train the Afghanand, later,the Iraqi security forces, sincesuchassignments were not consideredcareer enhancing for ambitious youngo⁄cers. Instead, the militaryrelied heavily oncontractors and reservists for these tasks.Morerecently,the advisorymissions inboth the Afghan and the Iraqi campaignshavereceived the attentiontheydeserve—in leadership,resources, and personnel. Within the military,advising and mentor-ing indigenous security forces is movingfrom the periphery of institutional priorities, where it was considered the province of the Special Forces, to being a key missionfor the armed forces as a whole. The U.S.Army has established specialized Advisory and Assistance Brigades—now the mainforces in Iraq—and is adjusting its promo-tion and assignment procedures to accountfor the importance of this mission; theU.S. Air Force is ﬁelding a ﬂeet of lightﬁghter jets and transport aircraft optimized