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Low Cost, High Returns: Getting More from International Partnerships

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Journal article

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Unbeknownst to most Americans, over 8,000 international military personnel are trained or educated annually in the United States at the invitation of the U.S. Government, studying every aspect of the military profession. The most select officers with future leadership potential are invited to participate in senior Professional Military Education PME courses alongside U.S. officers at schools such as National Defense University NDU and the Army, Naval, Air, and Marine Corps War Colleges. Many of these students are funded by the United States through security assistance programs such as the International Military Education and Training IMET program, which has an annual cost of over 100 million. This is a significant investment of time and treasure by the United States, and as we will show, the initial returns of these programs are high. However, despite the significant investment, once courses end, the U.S. Government expends very little effort to maintain relationships with these international graduates and use them as potential strategic partners. The lack of attention is surprising, not only because we are divesting when our returns would be their highest but also given the way Departments of State and Defense leaders view these programs. Said Admiral Michael Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Security cooperation through PME is an investment in the future of both the selected students and the nations being engaged. Like all investments, an optimal return on our investment is sought. 1 Unfortunately, we are not seeing an optimal return in the long run when benefits could be the greatest.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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