The Risks of Outsourcing Security: Foreign Security Forces in US National Security Policy

With Eric Rittinger

For more than a century, the United States has sought foreign security forces to promote its national security policy. Nowhere is this more evident than in Afghanistan, where the US wants the Afghan army and police to assume full responsibility for counterinsurgency operations. Local forces can obviate the need for American troops, but they can also stray from American objectives. How has the US attempted to mitigate that risk? By investigating how the US used the Salvadoran military as a proxy in the Cold War and the Colombian military as a proxy in the War on Drugs, Rittinger finds a direct connection between the rhetorical definition of that risk and the policies implemented to guard against it. This finding invites us to scrutinize the language used today to describe the dangers posed by the Afghan security forces.

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