Re-Building US Strategy: Missing the Point of Allies

By Robbin Laird

We hear frequently about shortage of money in blocking sound US 21st century defense strategy.  But hollow thinking is even more a threat than a hollow force.

In any calculation of shaping US forces for the 21st century, re-working the relationship with allies is crucial.  To support allies, to engage with allies, to shape plug and play forces with allies.   All of this is clear and evident.

But this is apparently not so to AFRICOM and by extension the Administration.

Recently, the French have spearheaded an operation in Mali which involves dealing with among others our good friends Al Qaeda.

You might think this is something AFRICOM would applaud.  It appears so but only at a cost!

Apparently, AFRICOM provided some support to French forces along the lead nation concept in NATO, whereby the French in this case led and selective NATO allies provided support.

What made US support unique was trying to hand the French the bill!

The French officials said they were particularly “perplexed” last week when the U.S. agreed to provide limited airlift assistance but insisted on getting reimbursed for the costs. U.S. and French officials said the U.S. estimated the bill for up to 30 cargo flights would come to between $17 million and $19 million.

So what is the plan going forward?

When we lead an allied intervention, allies will be sending the bill to the US DOD?

Perhaps we need a new NATO credit card to transfer money for allied operations?

More change you can believe in.



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