Security assistance has long been an important component of American statecraft. The foreign policies of successive administrations have focused on empowering US partners to confront their own security challenges, rather than solving them through American force alone. Today, US foreign and defense policy indicates an intent to work “by, with, and through” partner forces to achieve shared goals. However, the outsourcing of American security objectives comes with a host of potential risks to civilians living in conflict zones or fragile states. Fighting with or relying on local partners–whose interests, priorities, and capabilities may not necessarily align with those of the United States–can complicate or even degrade America’s ability to minimize civilian harm during military operations.
This Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) examines the causes and consequences of civilian harm in security partnerships, and its implications for US foreign policy