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Research Report

The Frontline Country Team: A Model for Engagement

Christopher Griffin
Thomas Donnelly
Copyright Date: Jun. 1, 2008
Pages: 51
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-1)

    For over sixty years, the United States has sought to build the capabilities of its allies and security partners. This is a mission that has accelerated since the terrorist attacks of September 2001, and it is one that any administration, be it Democratic or Republican, will inherit in January 2009. As a longstanding strategic goal, building partnership capacity has also dredged up a series of contradictions and conundrums for American policymaking, as officials attempt to foster governance without fueling dictatorships, engage “frontline states” without becoming enmeshed in their internal feuds, and manage the details of convoluted international partnerships from the...

  2. (pp. 3-9)

    Since the end of the Cold War, American statesmen and military commanders often have found this question too hard to answer. That is perhaps understandable. They faced a situation without precedent: the United States was, and still is, rightly regarded as a sole superpower, a globe-girdling presence politically, economically, militarily, and culturally. Absent a Soviet doppelganger against which to define themselves, Americans had no external yardstick by which to measure their security needs. The National Defense Panel, a committee of experts convened by Congress and the Defense Department could only see “a great paradox. On the one hand, we are...

  3. (pp. 10-19)

    Security cooperation has been a crucial element of American foreign policy since the early years of the Cold War, but it has always been a flawed instrument. For over sixty years, these programs have been handicapped by two recurring problems: the extension of interagency feuds into the embassy and the challenge of civil-military coordination in response to military threats. These problems for effective American policy were most pronounced during the conflicts in Vietnam and Laos, where bureaucratic and civil-military chaos at the country-team level repeatedly undermined American efforts to support allies that were fighting for their very existence.

    Following the...

  4. (pp. 20-25)

    Since 2001, the American apparatus for security cooperation and counterinsurgency has been placed under a degree of strain not experienced since the Vietnam War. The transformation of the War on Terror into the Long War reflects the growing realization that the United States will be committed both to fighting jihadist extremists and improving the quality of governance throughout the Islamic world for the foreseeable future. In addition to its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States is also engaged in an ongoing struggle against a panoply of groups who seek to exploit instability in Africa, the Middle East, and...

  5. (pp. 26-35)

    Although a series of reports from both Congress and the Departments of State and Defense have called for establishing the embassy as a “command post” in the Long War, they have all highlighted obstacles to doing so. The State Department has neither the proper culture nor the command structure to assume leadership in the Long War. Although the Department of Defense claims it is eager to support the State Department’s leadership in this field, it is instead investing in additional capabilities that will usurp the State Department’s traditional role.

    The principle challenges the two sides in this equation face are...

  6. (pp. 36-49)

    On November 8–9, 2007, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) held a seminar entitled “Building Partnership Capacity: The Case of Indonesia.” The conference was led by AEI resident fellow Thomas Donnelly, AEI research fellow Christopher Griffin, and AEI resident scholar Gary J. Schmitt. This exercise was designed to serve as a test case for the frontline country team proposal by presenting a scenario that required enhanced American engagement, but ruled out direct military intervention.

    The seminar brought together twenty-three experts, ranging from area specialists who study Indonesian politics, to counterterrorism experts, to former officials with direct experience building partnership capacity...