U.S. allies that are fighting al-Qaida-linked insurgencies often suffer illegitimate regimes, civil-military tension manifested by fears of a coup, economic backwardness, and discriminatory societies. These problems, coupled with allies’ divergent interests, serve to weaken allied military and security forces tactically, operationally, and strategically. The ability of the United States to change its allies’ behavior is limited, despite the tremendous difficulties these problems create, because relying on allied forces is a key component of U.S. strategy in the war on terrorism and the U.S. goal of handing off security to Iraqi military forces. To reduce the effects of allies’ weaknesses, the United States should try to increase its intelligence on allied security forces and at times act more like a third party to a conflict. In addition, Washington must have realistic expectations of what training and other efforts can accomplish.
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