Military Assistance: An Operational Perspective

Article excerpt

Military Assistance: An Operational Perspective by William H. Mott IV. Greenwood Publishing Group (, 88 Post Road West, Westport, Connecticut 06881, 1999, 384 pages, $65.00.

This work provides readers a comprehensive study of the dynamics that affect wartime military-- assistance programs. Although most of the author's eight case studies address American experiences with assistance programs from the twentieth century, he includes examples of French and British assistance from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Mott's premise is that successful assistance programs have certain uniformities that increase the potential for meeting donor aims, while programs that lack these uniformities-what Mott terms "lawlike regularities"-are more likely to fail. For policy makers, Mott provides a touchstone for judging if a given assistance program has the right policy mix to meet its goals. For the operator who is personally involved in military-assistance programs, Mott provides a rich, historical reference that may shed light on why particular initiatives are destined to succeed and others to fail. Personnel involved in the process of providing military assistance in any service branch and at any level will benefit from reading this book.

Prior to delving into the case studies, Mott, a political scientist at heart, takes time to address the history behind military assistance and the different methodologies commonly employed to analyze such assistance. Authors dealing with the social sciences sometimes attempt to quantify historic data to make their work appear more "scientific." But Mott manages to address the military-assistance issue through qualitative analysis and does a fabulous job of meeting the multidisciplinary challenge posed by the subject. His paradigm of lawlike regularities between donor and recipient nations is reinforced by the parallels he draws among the case studies.

Mott advances his argument of uniformities among the case studies by asserting that "relevant components of the donor and recipient relationship ... coalesce in four prominent features that seem holistically associated with achieving donor aims" (p. 21). The following briefly summarizes those features: convergence of donor and recipient goals, control by the donor, commitment of donor combat forces, and coherence or suitable integration of donor military assistance with other donor policies and strategy. Mott later points out that "the presence of all four features... provides high confidence that military assistance can be expected to achieve donor aims" (p. 266). Simply put, the more features present in a given donor-recipient relationship, the greater the odds of donor success.

One of two observations I found of interest, as regards the author's analysis of American assistance, was the tendency for policy makers to recommend greater amounts of economic aid and military assistance even though such assistance, by itself, might not achieve their aims. …