Military Professionalism and the Future of Civil-Military Relations in Africa - Case Studies of U.S. Military Training and Professional Education in Colombia, El Salvador, Cameroon, and Senegal
U.S. military training and professional education has increased in Africa since 2002. Building professional militaries can improve security but also presents a moral dilemma. African regimes are often criticized for poor governance—including patrimonial, kleptocratic, and authoritarian rule—and African armies are often political in nature. More
This mid-2018 report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. Transnational crime, violent extremism, insecurity, and instability are common challenges that negatively impact U.S. interests in Africa, including democracy promotion, development, trade, peace, and security. Professional African militaries are one potential solution to these challenges. Toward this end, U.S. military training and professional education has increased in Africa since 2002. Building professional militaries can improve security but also presents a moral dilemma. African regimes are often criticized for poor governance—including patrimonial, kleptocratic, and authoritarian rule—and African armies are often political in nature. In this regard, this thesis investigated whether U.S. training and professional education encourages democratic civil-military relations or simply provides rulers with more lethal militaries. From a comparison of four case studies, the effects of U.S. security assistance to El Salvador and Colombia during the 1980s and 1990s were compared to the political and military environments of modern Cameroon and Senegal to determine potential outcomes of current and future training and professional education programs there. Results show likely increases in soldiering skills but indeterminate effects on the professionalism required for transition to democratic civil-military relations. This transition is more probable when both the partner state's regime and military are reform-minded, and reforms are implemented throughout the defense sector.
In November 2010, Cote d'Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo lost re-election in what was considered a "relatively free and fair" democratic process. The military disregarded its duty to support the constitution, came out of its barracks, helped Gbagbo flee international authorities, and attacked his opponents in an attempt to overturn the election results. Thousands died between the announcement of Gbagbo's electoral loss and his arrest in April 2011. The military had been a critical client in Gbagbo's patrimonial network during his ten-year rule and this likely prompted them to back him instead of observing the rule of law.
The Cote d'Ivoire case is a good example of undemocratic civil-military relations. Regrettably, the Cote d'Ivoire case is not unique in Africa. State use of militaries and security forces to repress political activities and other civil liberties occurs frequently in African states such as Cameroon and Zimbabwe. African militaries also attempt coups, as they did in Niger in 2010, Burkina Faso in 2014, and Burundi in 2015. It is likely that better-trained, professional militaries, which accept the civilian supremacy of the armed forces, would improve contemporary African civil-military relations (understood as a trinity of civilian control, effectiveness, and efficiency), which will ultimately result in better governance, improved legitimacy, political liberalization, and limit the misuse or misbehavior of African armed forces. Unfortunately, it is also possible that militaries in Africa will continue to impair democracy and governance since civilian authority over the military "remains a missing piece of Africa's democratic transition puzzle."
This thesis researches the current roles militaries perform in African politics and their relationship with the requirements for democratic civil-military relations. Specifically, it addresses how externally trained and educated militaries influence the democratization of civil-military relations in Africa. It also analyzes whether or not military professionalism alone is sufficient to ensure the armed forces' political neutrality and further democratization of civil-military relations in Africa.
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