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What Is Building Partner Capacity Issues for Congress

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Since 2001, successive U.S. administrations have increasingly prioritized efforts to build foreign security forcesparticularly in weak and failing statesarguing that doing so advances U.S. national security objectives. In turn, the Department of Defense DOD has invested billions of dollars in Building Partner Capacity, a term that refers to a broad set of missions, programs, activities, and authorities intended to improve the ability of other nations to achieve those security-oriented goals they share with the United States. As a consequence, these efforts and programs have been a growing focus of Congressional attention. Many partner capacity building programs and activities have their roots in the post-World War II period, if not well before, yet today they are implemented more widely, and often with greater resourcing, than efforts prior to September 11, 2001. Indeed, building partner capacity was a central feature of the 2003-2010 Iraq campaign, and is a core component of the ongoing current campaigns both in Afghanistan to counter Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and in IraqSyria to counter the Islamic State. Recent events, particularly the battle between the Afghan government and the Taliban over Konduz, the inability of DOD-led efforts to produce more than a handful of anti-Assad, anti-Islamic State IS forces in Syria, and the collapse of U.S.-trained forces in Iraq in the face of the Islamic State, have called into questionincluding in the Congresswhether these BPC programs can ever achieve their desired effects. CRS surveyed the publicly available literature on the subject, and found the debate on the strategic effectiveness of BPC and related programs nascent, at best. While a variety of studies explore programmatic effectiveness, very few explore what the United States sought to achieve when engaging in a BPC effort, and whether or not doing so led to desirable outcomes.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Government and Political Science

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