Assistant Secretary Andrew J. Shapiro Bureau of Political-Military Affairs today stressed that security assistance gives the United States leverage and influence.
At the Center for New American Security, Mr. Shapiro highlighted that U.S. funding helps tie a country’s security sector to the United States, creating strong strategic and financial incentives for the recipient countries to maintain close relations.
“The linkages through IMET also help build personal relationships between officer corps, which gives us increased access and potential points of influence. Furthermore, U.S. security assistance also often provides critical training that helps professionalize partner militaries and teaches them about core U.S. values like respect for human rights and civilian control of the military.” -Mr. Shapiro
Mr. Shapiro explained that when U.S. provides security assistance through its Foreign Military Financing program to buy U.S. defense systems, they are not just providing a country with weapons systems. They are committing themselves to a long term relationship.
“The complex and technical nature of advanced defense systems often require continuous collaboration between countries. This includes training and support in the use of the equipment, assistance in maintenance, and help to update and modernize the equipment throughout its life-cycle.” -Mr. Shapiro
He cited that when countries accept security assistance they are ultimately making a long-term strategic commitment to develop a relationship with the U.S. Security assistance is therefore a critical tool that helps undergird U.S. diplomatic relationships and strengthen alliances with countries around the world.
He noted that security assistance is a critical tool to strengthening existing partnerships and building new ones. For decades, U.S. security assistance to the Middle East, to countries like Israel and Egypt, has helped create lasting partnerships and further regional stability.
“Our assistance to Israel accounts for more than half of our security assistance and is critical to maintaining its qualitative military edge in the region. We work very closely with Israel to meet its evolving defense needs and we are committed to ensuring they are equipped with highly advanced defense systems. For more than 30 years, we have also had a very close partnership with Egypt.” -Mr. Shapiro
He reported that the U.S. government provides Egypt with $1.3 billion of security assistance per year, which is critical to ensuring Egypt’s continued role as a regional leader.
He pointed out that an emerging focus for security assistance is maritime security. He said the U.S. government is supporting the Philippines’ efforts to develop its maritime security capabilities by providing extended-range cutters, patrol boats, and light aircraft.
He noted that the influence of US security assistance was evident early this year. During the uprising in Egypt, the Egyptian military responded admirably. It allowed peaceful protests to take place and resisted calls to crack down on the protesters.
“Now of course the influence and leverage gained through our security assistance does not guarantee a country will listen. In crisis situations, leaders and regimes often act out of desperation, making them more willing to resist our calls and ignore our warnings. This is why we constantly review our security assistance and why we make every effort to be sure it is being used as it was intended.” -Mr. Shapiro