Off-campus for Foreign Military Training: Building Effective Armed Forces in Weak States

Project: Research project

Project Details


Foreign Military Training (FMT) is a core element of U.S efforts to build defense relationships that promote U.S security interests. The U.S government spent at least $204.6 billion to provide security assistance to countries abroad between FY2006 and FY2016. FMT also figures prominently in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union (EU) strategic objectives in the Middle East and Africa. The reality is that FMT has created few intended and many unintended outcomes. Existing research focuses squarely on the absorption stage of FMT and highlights the problem of corrupt recipient governments and conflicts between FMT provider interests and the political interests of elite actors in recipient countries as the driving factor that explains FMT failures. Insights from that research are important for explaining cross-national variations, particularly in contexts where governance is shaped by patron-client relations that undercut formal institutions and procedures. But such research does not explain in-country variations. FMT can produce highly effective military units and enclaves of competence in wider political contexts dominated by patronage networks. Iraq’s Army collapsed in the face of the Islamic State’s advance, but the Iraqi Special Operations Forces remained intact, and the same is true of Afghan Special Forces. Weobserve similar patterns of FMT outcomes in Mali, Niger, and Chad etc. What explains in-country variations in FMT outcomes, and how can we glean best practices that can inform future FMT provision?
Effective start/end date8/15/208/14/23


  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-20-1-0277)


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