Assessing the Consequences of U.S. Military Assistance to Developing Countries

Thursday, April 12, 2018 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Assessing the Consequences of U.S. Military Assistance to Developing Countries

Thursday, April 12
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Fairwinds Alumni Center, SGA Boardroom

Open to the public
Lunch will be provided

Military assistance to foreign governments is a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. These efforts have been successful in some cases, while in others - such as Vietnam or Yemen - they have not. This workshop will feature speakers with backgrounds in academia, the military, think tanks, government and NGOs. 

Panelists will analyze and discuss:

  • The goals of U.S. military assistance programs
  • Whether and where military assistance can be effective
  • Challenges to implementing and evaluating these programs
  • Ways to bridge the gap between academia and policy on this issue


Alexis Arieff is a Specialist in African Affairs at the Congressional Research Service, where she analyzes policy issues regarding North, West, and Central Africa for Members of Congress and their staff. Her recent work for CRS has examined U.S. security assistance in the Sahel, engagement with North Africa in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, and responses to instability and humanitarian needs in Africa’s Great Lakes region. In 2015, Alexis was detailed to the State Department as a Washington-based policy advisor to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. She previously completed a detail as a regional director for West Africa in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and she served as an international election observer in Guinea in 2010 and in Tunisia in 2011 and 2014. Before joining CRS full time in 2009 as a Presidential Management Fellow, Alexis worked as a researcher on Africa at the Committee to Protect Journalists; as a research fellow at the International Crisis Group's West Africa field office in Dakar; and as a contributing writer for Freedom House. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Conakry, Guinea, in 2008 and 2009. Alexis has a BA from Brown University and an MA in international relations from Yale University.

Colby Goodman is the director of the Security Assistance Monitor where he leads research and analysis on U.S. foreign security assistance around the world. Before joining the Security Assistance Monitor, Mr. Goodman was the Deputy Director of the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs Regional Center based in Togo. There, he helped develop training manuals for Africa security forces and organized diplomatic conferences on a range of conventional arms control issues. Prior to the UN post, he worked for several civil society organizations as a researcher and advocate covering arms control and security assistance issues in Asia, Central America, and the Middle East and has been widely quoted and published in major U.S. media. He holds a Master’s degree in International Policy Studies with a focus on security and development from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Kristen A. Harkness is a Lecturer in International Relations at the University of St. Andrews. Her research interests lie at the intersection of ethnic politics, conflict studies, and democratization with a regional focus on Africa. She is the author of When Soldiers Rebel: Ethnic Armies and Political Instability in Africa (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press) and her work has been published in journals including Democratization, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the Journal of Peace Research, and the Journal of Strategic Studies, amongst others. She previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame after earning her PhD in Comparative Politics and International Relations from Princeton University.

Adam Isacson has worked on defense, security, and peacebuilding in Latin America since 1994. He now directs WOLA’s Defense Oversight program, which monitors U.S. cooperation with Latin American security forces, particularly in Colombia. Monitoring U.S. aid, and advocating for peaceful resolution to Colombia’s long armed conflict, has led him to visit Colombia more than 70 times. He has done work in 24 of the country’s 32 departments. Since 2011, Isacson has also focused on border security, and has done research along Mexico’s borders with both the US and Guatemala. Before coming to WOLA in 2010, Isacson worked on Latin American demilitarization at the Center for International Policy. There, he joined with Latin America Working Group and WOLA in creating a longstanding project that monitors U.S. military assistance to the region. With contributions from WOLA, that project continues at CIP, covering the whole world, as the Security Assistance Monitor. Isacson has produced over 250 publications, articles, book chapters, and policy memos over the course of his career. He hosts WOLA’s podcast, Latin America Today. He speaks to about 20 audiences per year, from universities to grassroots gatherings to government agencies. He has testified eight times before the U.S. Congress. At the start of his career, in the mid-1990s, Isacson worked on the Central America Demilitarization Program at the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress in Costa Rica. Isacson holds an M.A. in International Relations from Yale University and a B.A. from Hampshire College.

Stephen Tankel is an assistant professor in the School of International Service at American University and an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Dr. Tankel specializes in international security with a focus on terrorism and counterterrorism, political and military affairs in South Asia, the changing nature of alliances, and security cooperation. He has published widely on these topics and conducted field research in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan, and the Balkans. Dr. Tankel is the author of numerous works, including With Us And Against Us: How America’s Partners Help and Hinder the War on Terror (forthcoming in spring 2018) and Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba (Oxford University Press, 2011). He is also a senior editor of the web magazine War on the Rocks, associate editor of the Texas National Security Review, on the editorial boards of Terrorism and Political Violence and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, and a frequent media commentator. Dr. Tankel previously served as a Senior Advisor at the Department of Defense and frequently advises U.S. policymakers, practitioners, and members of the Intelligence Community.

Col. Christian Watt, USAF, holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He joined the Air War College faculty in 2014 and is currently the Associate Dean of Resident Programs at Maxwell Air Force Base. He is a command navigator with more than 2,300 hours in the F-15E and has accumulated 170 combat sorties and more than 600 combat hours in Operations Provide Comfort, Deny Flight, Southern Watch, and Iraqi Freedom. Before completing an Air Force Institute of Technology fellowship at the University of North Carolina, during which he studied International Relations, he was the LeMay Center Director of Doctrine Development. He commanded the 321st Expeditionary Mission Support Advisory Group in Tikrit, Iraq, where he also served as the Senior Advisor to the Commandant of the Iraqi Air Force Officer’s College. His group’s mission was to provide base-support advice to the Iraqi Air Force and to provide education and training for over 5,000 Iraqi Air Force airmen across various career fields. He is a graduate of Command and General Staff College and the Air War College. His areas of interest and expertise include airpower theory and doctrine, operations, postwar cooperation, alliances, strategic partnership, political unification, and reconciliation.

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