Johns Hopkins SAIS expert available to discuss U.S. defense and security strategies in partnering with foreign militaries

How can the United States effectively build partnerships with foreign militaries? Mara Karlin, Associate Professor of the Practice of Strategic Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), combines her rigorous academic scholarship with experience as a senior Pentagon policymaker to explore one of the biggest national security issues in the new book, “Building Militaries in Fragile States: Challenges for the United States.”
Given the complex global security environment and the increasingly connected and unstable world, Karlin says the United States has a greater interest in strengthening fragile states. Particularly since World War II, the United States has often built partner militaries in fragile states to deal with their internal problems so the U.S. military can focus elsewhere. Despite a poor record with limited success, she predicts the United States will continue these partnerships because of fiscal constraints, growing transnational security threats, increasing fragility, and limited public support for U.S. military intervention.
“U.S. policymakers’ increasing focus on competitors, such as China and Russia, only heightens the need to stabilize fragile states cheaply—in blood, treasure, and time,” Dr. Karlin said. “To do so, the United States must shift its fundamentally flawed approach to building partner militaries, one that tackles this challenge as a technical matter, rather than a fundamentally political one.”
The book suggests that most analyses of these programs have focused on training and equipment, but should rather explore the roles of two key actors: the U.S. military and unhelpful external actors. With a comparative case-study approach that spans Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, Karlin offers new and provocative findings for building partner militaries in fragile states.
The scholar is available to further discuss:

  • Why are U.S. military assistance programs often disappointing?
  • How can the United States benefit from helping to stabilize fragile states?
  • What steps can the United States take to more effectively train and equip partner militaries?
  • How can the U.S. influence sensitive military affairs in fragile states?
  • How can the United States more successfully work with militaries in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan?
  • What are the implications for the future U.S. military role in Syria?
  • As the Defense Department focuses on China and Russia, how can the United States stabilize fragile states cheaply?

Karlin is also the Associate Director of the Strategic Studies Program and Executive Director of The Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She previously served in national security roles for five U.S. Secretaries of Defense, advising on policies spanning national security, strategic planning, defense budgeting, regional affairs, future wars and the evolving security environment, particularly focused on the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. Most recently, she served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development. Karlin has been awarded Department of Defense Medals for Meritorious and Outstanding Public Service, among others.
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About Johns Hopkins SAIS
A division of Johns Hopkins University, the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is a global institution that offers students an international perspective on today's critical issues. For nearly 75 years, Johns Hopkins SAIS has produced great leaders, thinkers, and practitioners of international relations. Public leaders and private sector executives alike seek the counsel of the faculty, whose ideas and research inform and shape policy. Johns Hopkins SAIS offers a global perspective across three campus locations: Bologna, Italy; Nanjing, China; and Washington, D.C. The school’s interdisciplinary curriculum is strongly rooted in the study of international economics, international relations, and regional studies, preparing students to address multifaceted challenges in the world today.
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Tuesday, March 6, 2018