Expanding U.S. Military’s ‘Smart-Power Toolbox’

Posted June 9, 2016 at 9:02am

The Wall Street Journal reports that “last year the United States Africa Command, known as Africom, spotted an opportunity and took unusual action. It asked the Pentagon for approval to support a civilian government initiative that it believed would help counter the spread of violent extremist groups and keep American soldiers safer.”  

“Africom had noticed that civilian programs led by the U.S. Agency for International Development in Agadez, Niger, were clearly reducing support for violent extremism there. Specifically, a combination of youth-development and conflict-mitigation programs were helping promote tolerance and reducing the allure of extremist violence among young people. So commanders asked to invest up to $5 million of the Pentagon’s $1.3 billion 2015 Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund to scale up these USAID programs, which would cost a fraction of military operations.”  

“But when Pentagon lawyers reviewed Africom’s request, they determined that current law prevents the Defense Department from sharing the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund with USAID. The lawyers effectively said that the military didn’t have the authority to deploy taxpayer dollars, already appropriated by Congress, in ways it assessed would reduce the risk to U.S. troops and make America safer.”