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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Africa as a laboratory for the US Light-Footprint Strategy: How the US preserves its interests in Africa today
by Matton, Jean-Baptiste, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2014, 82; 10305853
Abstract (Summary)

Light-footprint missions rely on a small number of civilian and military professionals to work patiently over many years to prevent and contain security challenges. They are based on prevention, forward engagement and a deeper understanding of the interests of potential security partners. The most critical resource is human capital, adaptable professionals who are not only fluent in language, culture, politics and interpersonal relationships but also willing to wade into uncertain environments and influence outcomes with minimal resources. Instead of “nation-building” with large, traditional military formations, civilian policy-makers are increasingly opting for a combination of air power, special operators, intelligence agents, indigenous armed groups and contractors, often leveraging relationships with allies and enabling partner militaries to take more active roles.

Despite the relative appeal of these less costly forms of military intervention, the light-footprint is no universal solution. Like any policy option, the strategy has risks, costs and benefits that make it ideally suited for certain security challenges and disastrous for others. These interventions are best suited for messy, irregular conflicts against terrorist groups, insurgencies, criminal networks and other non-state actors that operate across boundaries, resist quick solutions and confound traditional military capabilities.

To be effective, the light-footprint approach to military intervention and engagement requires a full understanding of capabilities and limitations, a different strategic mindset and the right people on the ground.

While small-scale missions are not new, the sheer number and complexity of evolving security challenges demand a fresh look at the subject.

This dissertation will use AFRICOM as it’s case study and a representative of the light-footprint approach in Subsaharan Africa.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Golub, Philip
Commitee: Beau, Christian, Perry, Susan
School: The American University of Paris (France)
Department: International Affairs
School Location: France
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: International Relations, Military studies
Keywords: AFRICOM, Light-footprint strategy, Military intervention, Sub-Saharan, United States
Publication Number: 10305853
ISBN: 978-1-369-49417-4
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