Foreign security assistance, in particular the International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Sales, and other programs under the auspices of the US Pacific Command’s Theater Security Cooperation, is a keystone in America’s engagement strategy with Asia. Primarily administered by the US Departments of State and Defense, these assistance programs have funneled several billions of dollars worth of equipment, education, and training, along with other forms of “local capacity building” to partner militaries across the region.
Indeed, given the growing strains on the American economy as well as US commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need for burden sharing among American allies and partners in Asia is becoming more critical. As such, the United States is increasing its reliance on foreign security assistance to help regional partners tackle their own security challenges. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argues in the May/June 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs, “the effectiveness and credibility of the United States will only be as good as the effectiveness, credibility, and sustainability of its local partners.”