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“Governance” Assistance


My latest column at WPR is about the difference between security assistance and “governance” assistance:

In March, the Stimson Center released a report (.pdf) by Gordon Adams and Rebecca Williams reviewing U.S. security assistance programs. Titled “A New Way Forward,” the report argued that the United States should restructure its security assistance programs away from “security,” as defined in Cold War terms, and toward “governance,” which more accurately reflects U.S. interests in the post-War on Terror world. The difference is hardly trivial. “Security” assistance focuses on improving the tactical and operational capabilities of fielded armed forces, whether against domestic or international foes, while “governance” assistance aims to “strengthen state capacity in failing, fragile, collapsing and post-conflict states.” Potentially at stake are the resources dedicated to security assistance programs, which involve training, facilitation of doctrinal learning, and very often the transfer of military equipment.

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