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Building Better Armies: An Insider's Account of Liberia

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We have long known that helping allies build better armies and police forces is a key to regional stability and the exit strategy for costly missions like Afghanistan in an as they stand up, we stand down approach. Yet the U.S. track record on this is unacceptably weak. The 2012 coup in Mali was staged by U.S. trained Malian soldiers. In Afghanistan, after years of training, the Pentagon assessed that only one of the Afghan National Army s 23 brigades is able to operate independently. This does not augur well for U.S. troop withdrawal in 2014 or for the future of Afghanistan. Nor is the United States alone. The United Nations has suffered similar setbacks in East Timor, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where ill-trained security forces have staged coups, preyed on the civilian population, and necessarily elongated costly peacekeeping missions. There are many reasons for these failures Building professional security forces in conflict affected countries is hard to do there is a significant theory to practice gap on how to do it there are no comprehensive practitioner guides or field manuals and few practical models exist. Worse, the de facto train and equip approach is ineffective, as it focuses too much on tactics and techniques and misses important intangibles. This monograph fills a timely gap in our knowledge of security sector reform and offers a unique model to accomplish it. Liberia was once the epicenter of conflict and human rights abuse in West Africa, frequently at the hands of the military. Ten years later, Liberia is stable and even sending a peacekeeping contingent to Mali. This makes an excellent case study in how to build an army, as told by the program s architect. The author s frank and critical analysis provides key insights into improving the U.S. capabilities in this crucial yet underserved area. The author explains that a state must have the monopoly of force to uphold its rule of law.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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