By Derek S. Reveron
Georgetown University Press, 2010
205 pp. $29.95
The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) elevated building partner capacity to one of six Department of Defense (DOD) core mission areas. More recently, the January 2012 DOD strategic guidance explicitly recognized building partner capacity as an enduring and integral part of our defense strategy. Defense planners did not always recognize the importance of building partner security capacity. The prevailing assumption that a military prepared for high-end combat could easily accommodate less demanding missions relegated partner building to the status of a lesser-included mission. Thus, this longstanding U.S. military mission did not always receive the sustained intellectual attention and resources that it merited.
Exporting Security: International Engagement, Security Cooperation, and the Changing Face of the U.S. Military explains how building partner capacity has become a core U.S. military mission and an integral part of our defense strategy. It reviews the broadly accepted assumptions regarding the nature of the post– Cold War international security environment, traces the U.S. military’s deepening involvement in a range of security cooperation activities, and considers how the military conducts partner-building activities. This work should be particularly useful in joint professional military education classrooms, as it provides a wideranging overview of the topic and offers many important points to consider and debate.
Derek S. Reveron is a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and is therefore well suited to tackle this important topic. He specializes in strategy development, nonstate security challenges, intelligence, and U.S. defense policy and has written and lectured on a wide variety of national security issues. Reveron’s knowledge of the issues, as well as his command of the relevant sources, is evident throughout this work.
The book consists of an introduction and eight well-documented chapters. The first two chapters set up Reveron’s analysis with a recapitulation of conventional wisdom regarding the international security environment and the theoretical links between fragile states and security threats that are now embedded in our national security and defense policies. The third chapter provides an overview of resistance within the military and the Department of State to the expanding role of the military in security cooperation activities. Resistance flowed, according to Reveron, from those within the military who believed that a focus on security cooperation would diminish traditional warfighting capabilities and from those in the Department of State who feared a militarization of foreign policy. This, however, is an old story, as resistance is now largely marginalized, and the fundamental premise that failed states pose broad security threats to the United States is now the official gospel. Theories have become axioms.
In the fourth chapter, disconcertingly titled “Demilitarizing Combatant Commands," Reveron correctly emphasizes the importance of our geographic combatant commands in a range of nonkinetic engagement and security cooperation activities. In this regard, he does a nice job of explaining the evolving role of geographic commands in the post–Cold War international security environment with observations along the lines of those found in Dana Priest’s The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America’s Military (W.W. Norton, 2003). However, Reveron often overstates the changes. Consider U.S. Africa Command, which he frequently cites as the primary example of the changing face of the U.S. military. The command suddenly found itself leading an air campaign in Libya to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. U.S. Africa Command, like other geographic combatant commands, essentially pursues two lines of effort: building security partner capacity and preparing for a wide range of potential crises. So while DOD has correctly elevated building partner capacity to its rightful place alongside five other core missions, partner building has not replaced other geographic combatant command missions. This important point, although not absent in Reveron’s analysis, is often obscured by his enthusiasm for the socalled new face of the American military.
Chapter five provides a handy primer on security cooperation programs and funding sources. It highlights the long bureaucratic road that key Department of State Title 22 programs such as international military education and training, foreign military financing, and the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative follow from concept to execution; strategicand operational-level interagency cooperation; and expedient funding mechanisms provided to DOD by the Congress. Maritime security issues such as poaching, piracy, and drug trafficking, and the emerging role of the U.S. Navy in developing partner capacity in the maritime realm, are the focus of chapter six.
For a work of this scope and detail, the final two chapters are somewhat disappointing. In some respects, this work is an argument without a conclusion, as it does not offer concrete doctrinal force structure or training proposals. Moreover, the study never comes to grips with an essential question: How do our geographic combatant commanders and senior policymakers really know that our partner-building programs and activities are truly achieving our national and theater objectives? In an era of constrained resources and growing skepticism regarding foreign entanglements, how DOD links programs and activities to outcomes will become increasingly important. JFQ