The Center for a New American Security released a very interesting working paper this week on America’s reliance on contractors in wartime and its implications for successful military operations. Contractors in American Conflicts: Adapting to a New Reality moves beyond the typical discussion of private security contractors (such as Blackwater) and focuses on the bigger picture: the use of contractors has increased across the spectrum of government activities and within the business community, and that third country nations make up a significant portion of DOD contractor personnel.
The Cable reported yesterday on the first mandated report that the administration sent to Congress as part of the terms of the Kerry-Lugar bill (The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009).
How will the Obama Administration balance commitments to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment currently at the center of the U.S. global health portfolio against a new focus on more fundamental health challenges as budget growth stalls? For those directly responsible for implementing this new initiative, the question is even more basic: can the new strategy truly integrate U.S. global health efforts fragmented not only by agency and mission, but by disease?
Civilian contingency operations capabilities at State and USAID will get a major boost this year, thanks to Congress’ action on funding for State and foreign operations included in the FY 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill (HR3288).
A recent HASC hearing is significant because as Ambassador, Mr. Eikenberry is the Chief of Mission or country team leader in Afghanistan and all US government agencies are under the leadership and direction of the ambassador while in country. Moreover, General McChrystal, the current commander of US forces in Afghanistan, received some but not all that he asked for in last month’s leaked report.
Gates, the first Secretary of Defense to be carried over from a president of a different party, has made significant headway in charting a new course for the DOD, though there is still room for improvement.
“Arrested Development”: How Bridging the Security-Development Divide Can be More than a Talking Point
Today in Washington, a cottage industry has emerged to promote a rebalancing of our foreign spending habits, with Secretary of Defense Gates becoming an eloquent, if unlikely, advocate for change. But because development and security programs have for so long been treated as competing priorities within the national budget process, revolutionary change has not proven to be easy.
Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs trekked to the hill yesterday to defend the President’s new Afghan policy testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).
Obama surge in Afghanistan, they will be a subject of strong debate in the Congress. There are many unknowns about the costs and still a lot of work being done in the executive branch to figure them out.
Articles, commentary and op-eds about President Obama’s Afghan speech were seemingly ubiquitous in this morning’s news frenzy. In last night’s address, President Obama outlined US strategy for Afghanistan, announcing the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops that, after 18 months, will begin to return home. The estimated costs associated with this additional troop deployment are estimated at $1 billion per 1,000 soldiers, or roughly $30 billion.
Given the explosion of reaction, it is easy to get lost in the political debate that surrounds such an announcement. Summarized below, however, is the actual framework the President offered for the new way forward in Afghanistan. Fundamentally, the broad parameters set by the President give the general public an idea of the goals, objectives and priorities of the administration, but they are just that: broad.
The President defined the overarching goal in the region as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and preventing its capacity to threaten America and its allies in the future.
To achieve this goal, President Obama offered three objectives from within Afghanistan:
- Deny al Qaeda a safe haven
- Reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government
- Strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government
President Obama stated that to accomplish these objectives, the US will:
- Increase troop levels in Afghanistan by an additional 30,000 troops which will target the insurgency and secure key population centers, and train and equip Afghan security forces.
- Peruse a more effective civilian strategy by working with partner and allied nations and the Afghan people.
- Strengthen US partnership with Pakistan by providing resources to improve Pakistan’s ability to fight extremists and support Pakistan’s democracy and development.
To gain better insight on the next chapter of the US-Afghanistan relationship, it is important to first understand the budgetary trends that lie behind the last nine years of US engagement in Afghanistan.
1) Do independent panels tend to influence federal spending and other government policies, particularly on national security issues? 2) Should we expect these new commissions to catalyze reform?
In 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh visited Washington, D.C. and pledged cooperation in countering terrorist networks in Yemen. Since then, the US has engaged in various security partnerships and initiatives with the government of Yemen in the hope of cracking down on terrorist cells. Yet, while the US’s principal priority in Yemen is defeating al-Qaeda networks, many argue that President Saleh’s priorities are not so neatly aligned, forcing Yemen to walk the fine line between its own interests and Western-defined ones.
From Washington’s perspective, Yemen’s domestic instability, ungoverned territory and porous borders make this, the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, a potentially dangerous al-Qaeda and extremist foothold. US security assistance programs have accounted for the bulk of US assistance in recent years, including roughly $98 million for the training and equipping of the Yemeni Armed Forces, known as Section 1206. This assistance pursues US-defined goals of suppressing terrorist operations and deterring and defeating extremists operating within the borders of Yemen.
From FY 2006–FY 2009, nearly three-fourths, or 71 percent, of all US assistance to Yemen went toward security assistance programs, defined here as programs intended to strengthen non-American military and security forces. Policy-driven economic assistance, aid that funds programs developed with US strategic and foreign policy interests in mind, accounted for 21 percent, while non-security assistance programs totaled 8 percent.
While it looks like the FY 2010 request for Yemen is less than FY 2009, this is not necessarily case. Section 1206 funds are not included in the FY 2010 request because country allocations for such funding are not known at the beginning of the fiscal year. Therefore, if Section 1206 funds are excluded, US assistance to Yemen would actually increase in FY 2010 by $10.6 million or 26 percent over FY 2009.
The composition of assistance, however, would significantly change in FY 2010. Unlike previous years, 68 percent of the FY 2010 request would be allocated for non-security assistance, such as development and global health initiatives, an increase of $26 million or 180 percent over FY 2009. The FY 2010 request decreases policy-driven economic assistance to zero, which saw a significant plus-up in FY 2009, and the remaining 22 percent would go to security assistance, an increase of $4.8 million or 75 percent.
While these investments have been important, whether or not al-Qaeda and its extremist allies operate in Yemen may ultimately depend on other, more powerful, factors.
Ongoing Conflict in Yemen
The ongoing Houthi rebellion in northern Yemen dominates domestic politics. The Yemeni government (predominantly Sunni) has been engaged in an on-again-off-again conflict with the predominantly Shia Houthi rebels over historical grievances. It is speculated that Iran has a hand in funding the Houthi rebels, while Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are in support of the Sunni Yemeni government. The result is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran with Yemen causalities, including many civilians. Clashes of late have intensified, continuing to threaten President Saleh’s power and influence over the region.
Another security concern is the growing secessionist movement in the southern region of Yemen. Secessionist sentiments and violent rebellions are on the rise, as many southern Yemenis and their leaders do not feel an equal part of the unified state. President Saleh walks a fine line, between too strong of a government response and a too weak of one, as north-south divide only worsens with declining economic conditions.
Poverty and the Economy
Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, with high unemployment and illiteracy, significant population growth, and roughly 45 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Yemen’s large youth population (about half of the population is under the age of 15) faces pervasive unemployment and the Yemeni people are in need of viable economic opportunities. Yemen is dependent on external aid but is perhaps in greater need of stable, economic and development partners. Long-term investment is hard to attract, however, given that experts have been saying for years that Yemen is on the verge of collapse. Declining oil reserves, water depletion, the global economic crisis and inflation further complicate matters. The result is that extremists groups use the desperation of many to recruit for their causes, often by means of religiously-inspired promises or just plain compensation.
In the Year 2013…
As President Saleh and the Yemeni government juggle these challenges, looming around the corner is the scheduled presidential election in 2013. President Saleh has led a united Yemen since 1990, and the potential change in leadership is surrounded by a significant number of unknowns. Will President Saleh be eligible for a third term? If not, who would take his place? Will the next president support or oppose US-Yemeni cooperation? How would the next administration handle many of the aforementioned challenges?
Ultimately, it is not in Yemen’s interests to have al Qaeda-inspired terrorist activity within their borders. The new generation of militants in Yemen is more inclined than their predecessors to attack the Yemeni government, in addition to foreign and Western interests. As the US and Yemen peruse their common goal of reducing the al-Qaeda presence and influence, the outcome of various domestic issues confronting President Saleh may be more deciding in the success or failure of such efforts.
Special thanks to Trice Kabundi for her efforts in this piece.
Information for this piece was taken from these outstanding works:
CRS Report: Yemen: Background and US Relations
Carnegie Endowment: Yemen: Avoiding a Downward Spiral
Section 1206 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2006: A Fact Sheet on Department of Defense Authority to Train andEquip Foreign Military Forces
 Security Assistance includes Global Train and Equip (Section 1206), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs (NADR), International Military Education and Training (IMET). Economic Support Funds (ESF) are defined here as policy-driven economic assistance. Non-security assistance includes Development Assistance (DA) and Global Health and Child Survival (GHCS).
It might be possible to attempt a comprehensive reordering and reform of the overall domain of U.S. democracy aid. Yet such a task is unlikely to be achieved—it is hard enough in Washington to try to reinvigorate any one federal agency’s work in a substantial area
On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) held a hearing on the significance and impact of the defense budget in the long-term. The following provides a brief summary of the hearing’s four testimonies
The FY 2010 Unified Security Budget (USB) report, produced by Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies, highlights the disparity in investment between the Pentagon and other security-related spending, and argues for a shift in emphasis in US security policy toward a less militarized approach, such as preventive diplomacy and homeland security.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, the Director of Policy Planning for the State Department, spoke at American University this week about the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) and its role in shaping future US foreign engagement. Overall, the take-away from Monday’s talk was the enormous task the QDDR faces, including countless moving parts, stakeholders, and actors that must be incorporated into the review process and considered in the formulation of future policy and budget planning, focusing on the FY 2012 budget.
Although there has been significant DOD budget increases over the last decade, there remains considerable pressure on the Pentagon’s budget due to rising war costs, increased personnel costs and healthcare payments, and overall government budget deficits (now at more than $1.4 trillion).
According to the International Energy Agency, the global demand for oil in the next thirty years will grow by 66 percent. Furthermore, an insufficient amount of sources currently exist to meet such high demand.
DOD Directive 1404.10 seems to be everywhere these days. The directive, issued back in January, established the DOD Civilian Expeditionary Workforce (CEW)− a civilian workforce within the DOD that is capable of providing combat and non-combat support to the military.