Exporting Security: International Engagement, Security Cooperation, and the Changing Face of the U.S. Military

By Patch, John | Parameters, Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

Exporting Security: International Engagement, Security Cooperation, and the Changing Face of the U.S. Military


Patch, John, Parameters


Exporting Security: International Engagement, Security Cooperation, and the Changing Face of the U.S. Military

by Derek Reveron

Washington, D.C.: Georgetown Univ Press, 2010

208 pages $29.95

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In October 2007, the US Central Command staff breathed a sigh of relief as US Africa Command was created. The vast, complex Horn of Africa (HOA) region, rife with social, economic, political, and security ills, had required the dedication of significant CENTCOM resources and attention, all amidst the prosecution of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. HOA still receives the lion's share of AFRICOM's focus, mainly due to the persistent terrorist threat--the existence of Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) HOA since 2002 is a testament to important US interests in the region. American military activity in the HOA region has consisted almost exclusively of engagement and security cooperation efforts, so it serves as a good case study to examine the efficacy of the Department of Defense's (DOD) noncombat missions. CJTF HOA serves as the focus of Derek Reveron's 2010 book, Exporting Security: International Engagement, Security Cooperation, and the Changing Face of the US Military.

Reveron provides a timely addition to the debate on the wisdom of expanding DOD's "soft missions." While his assertion that the larger US strategy has "shifted from containment to engagement" is arguable, the work does serve to highlight how the military has transformed to manage noncombat missions typically reserved for civilian development organizations and the State Department. Reveron sees future engagement and security cooperation success tied to DOD acceptance of defense missions linked with diplomacy and development. The author is uniquely qualified to write on this issue, with significant expertise from years of research at the Naval War College, including several well-regarded books and articles. Further, he enjoys a degree of practical experience from an extended deployment in Kabul at the NATO Training Mission Afghanistan--one of the largest security assistance efforts in NATO's history. Reveron successfully puts security cooperation in a contemporary context that is useful to the national security professional.

Reveron argues that security and stability are fundamental prerequisites for socioeconomic development, which ultimately promotes US national security interests. By extension, America's engagement and security cooperation can bolster partners' military capabilities to secure the peace, ultimately preventing armed conflict. He provides a cogent argument for the strategic rationale behind engagement and security cooperation and illustrates the dramatic expansion of these missions for DOD since 9/11. The influence--vice dominance--that America derives from the use of soft, or "smart," power is facilitated by what Reveron calls "a reservoir from which to draw nonlethal solutions to US foreign policy problems." Reveron further illustrates how military-to-military relations of all types contribute to the professionalization of militaries, including international military education and training, security force assistance via State Department-funded foreign military financing, and other security assistance programs implemented at American embassies. The author asserts that American efforts that support the development of foreign militaries as institutions promoting stability and human rights pay dividends in times of internal and regional tribulation. The Arab Spring provides a compelling example, when the US-trained Egyptian Army facilitated a peaceful transition of power and refused to fire on its own citizens. Egypt is of course one of the largest examples of America's military engagement and security cooperation. What is less clear is whether smaller efforts elsewhere will be sufficient to lessen the long-term potential for conflict. This reviewer would argue that the soft power military engagement and security cooperation resources necessary to achieve US strategy goals are beyond what America can afford. …

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