Having Their Say: Guidelines for Involving Local Civil Society in the Planning, Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of U.S. Security Assistance and Cooperation

Engaging Civil Society in Security Aid & Cooperation, UAE F-35 Deal Moves Forward, Retooling Security Assistance & more



November 2, 2020

Having Their Say: Guidelines for Involving Local Civil Society in the Planning, Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of U.S. Security Assistance and Cooperation

Center for Civilians in Conflict, October 2020

A new report by the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) illustrates the importance of engaging civil society in America’s vast security assistance and cooperation enterprise, especially in the countries where these programs are being implemented. The report notes that skyrocketing U.S. security cooperation budgets and the globally shrinking space for civil society is leaving security institutions to operate with little oversight or accountability, and blind to a critical source of insight into public security needs.

The report’s assertions are based on three premises:  first, that legitimate governance in democratic societies requires adequate public participation in policy decision-making. Second, that justice and security service delivery, formal security sector oversight and accountability, and security sector reform processes depend heavily on civil society to perform effectively. Finally, the volume and nature of U.S. security cooperation and assistance imparts a responsibility on the United States government to ensure its programs serve the right and intended purposes without doing harm.

The report argues that engagement may take one of four major forms:

  1. Informing independent civil society;
  2. Consulting independent civil society;
  3. Involving local civil society;
  4. Supporting local civil society;
The report provides fifteen guidelines for constructing a policy framework for including local, independent civil society in the most important decisions relating to security cooperation and assistance. To read the full report, click here

Security Assistance News & Research Roundup

News & Blog Posts

House Democrats introduce bill to restrict US arms sales to Arab countries

Middle East Eye, October 30

House Democrats introduced a bill intended to restrict the sales of certain weaponry to Arab countries, the latest piece of legislation brought to Congress to protect Israel’s military edge in the region. 

U.S. moves forward with sale of 50 F-35 jets to UAE – sources

Reuters, October 29

The U.S. State Department notified Congress it approved the sale of 50 Lockheed Martin Co LMT.N F-35 jets to the United Arab Emirates in a deal that could be worth $10 billion potentially setting up a showdown with lawmakers over the deal.

Trump has ‘no plan’ to exit Afghanistan by Christmas, key lawmaker says

Defense News, October 29

 Weeks after the U.S. military was blindsided by President Donald Trump’s assertion that all U.S. troops will be out of Afghanistan by the end of the year, a top lawmaker on defense says there was no actual plan to withdraw troops by Christmas.

Will COVID-Stressed Countries Slow Their Arms Buys?

Defense One, October 28

Though the coronavirus pandemic might prompt U.S. allies to restructure arms deals for American-made weapons there is still an appetite for U.S. weapons overseas — especially F-16 fighter jets and Patriot missile batteries – according to a top State Department official. 

Amid Emirati F-35 talks, Trump administration still ‘committed’ to congressional arms sale reviews

Defense News, October 28

Amid reports the Trump administration is fast-tracking sales of the high-tech F-35 warplane to the United Arab Emirates, and after several contentious and controversial arms sales, a senior State Department official has said the administration remains committed to consulting Congress on arms sales to foreign governments. 

Pompeo Touts U.S.-India Defense Deal, With an Eye on China

Wall Street Journal, October 27

After signing a new defense deal with India which gives it access to advanced U.S. map and satellite imagery, Secretary of State praises the agreement as an effort for “a free and open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”


Research, Analysis, and Opinion


Retooling U.S. Security Sector Assistance

War on the Rocks, October 28

Authors Stephen Tankel and Tommy Ross argue that U.S. security assistance is not fit for purpose, and is out of sync with U.S. priorities, overly focused on tactical capabilities over administration and professionalism. 

Is Iraq’s Military Good Enough for US Troops to Leave?

Defense One, October 28

As the U.S. considers withdrawing more troops from Iraq, Katie Bo Williams explores whether U.S. security assistance to Iraq has worked enough for the Iraqis to manage their own security affairs. U.S. military officials warn that as long as Iraq is a cornerstone in U.S. foreign policy, they can’t afford to leave.

From the U.S. Government

Department of Defense

Major Arms Sale: Australia – Javelin Missiles

October 30, 2020

Estimated cost of $46 million

Major Arms Sale: Guyana – Bell 412EPI and 429 Helicopters

October 30, 2020

Estimated cost of $256 million.


Data Fact of the Week:

Growth in Annual U.S. Security Assistance Since FY2001

The graphic above illustrates the growth in U.S. security assistance between FY2001 and FY2019. 

U.S. security assistance has grown substantially in the last two decades, despite significant gaps in oversight and accountability, particularly in recipient countries.  A new report by CIVIC looks at the need to engage civil society to help fill in these gaps, and ensure the appropriate application of security assistance and cooperation. 

To read the full report, click here

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