The deployment of the first of the Army's specially-trained Security Force Assistance Brigades to Afghanistan in 2018 was supposed to be something of a moment of truth for a Pentagon stretched thin by the ever-expanding Global War on Terror.
But according to the U.S. government's chief watchdog for the U.S. military campaign, the units that were supposed to act as the tip of the spear for the Army's newfound emphasis on "advise-and-assist" missions have a major problem: they simply can't find enough soldiers to get the job done.
Major Jahara Matisek, USAF, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Military and Strategic Studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Dr. William Reno is a Professor in the Political Science Department at Northwestern University.
If one accepts that the American military is the most powerful armed force in human history, why does it have a mixed record when it comes to building up foreign armies in weak states?
Cameroon, the central African country once known as an oasis of stability amongst volatile neighbors, is falling apart. Recent disturbing images emerging depict a country descending into violent civil war as the Cameroonian government fights to quash an Anglophone separatist movement. Thousands of innocent civilians have fled to neighboring Nigeria and Chad to avoid the violent atrocities orchestrated by both sides.
The Army's 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) deployed downrange to bolster the U.S. training, advisory, and assistance mission in Afghanistan four months ago, and so far the unit's impact on the ground has been, well, "positive" — or, at least, according to a new Pentagon report.