EDIT: Geez, I'm too damn snappy these days. This Thompson thing must've knocked a screw loose. I didn't mean for this title to sound nearly so condescending and unkind as it does. This stuff is complicated, and it's not easy to figure out the details. These folks are making an honest run at the subject and I generally agree with their conclusions, so I shouldn't have sounded so universally dismissive. Sorry! Now back to the original post... [/END EDIT]
The reason I ask is that this paper isn't so much about security assistance as it is about the total clusterfuck that is U.S. policy in the Caucasus, and specifically with regard to Georgia. The authors' argument basically comes down to this: don't support partner countries in ways that have unpredictable consequences in an unstable region. And while I generally agree that this is a sensible prescription, one could reasonably argue that consequences are always unpredictable when it comes to indirect approaches like security assistance/security force assistance. Whenever you're adding an extra layer of decision making, and the decision maker at that extra level is a sovereign state, you're often going to end up with effects that are obscure to the folks who set the whole process in motion.
That said, there are a couple of pretty rudimentary mistakes when it comes to the titular subject, none more egregious than this comment about the disconnect between donor priorities and recipient wishes:
The U.S. administration has offered away to square the circle by advocating "brains before brawn” and promoting the increase of intellectual capacity. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August 2009, “Focusing U.S. assistance initially on fundamental intellectual issues like training, doctrine and personnel management . . . is our prioritized approach, and this will serve as a foundation on which Georgia can build for years to come.” This seems a sensible approach in and of itself. However, there is no guarantee that writing a check for $1 billion for Georgia means the money will go somewhere other than the defense program even if it is not specifically targeted for defense. Rather, it allows Georgia, should it wish, to reallocate funds internally.This would definitely be a problem... if it were actually true. I mean, I suppose in a technical sense, it is true. If security assistance was provisioned by just writing a check to the partner country, then that money could just be dropped into the Georgian treasury and it becomes fungible. But that's not how the process works.
Military grant aid is provided through the Foreign Military Finance and International Military Education and Training programs, both of which are budgeted in the 150 account -- the foreign assistance budget. What this amounts to is a chunk of money dedicated to a certain country for use in purchasing U.S. military equipment, training courses, or seats in professional military education classes (war colleges, command and staff college, etc.). The recipient is obligated to use this money for its intended purpose: if Georgia got IMET money, for example, it can't buy Abrams tanks instead of seats for its majors at CGSC.
Of course, this grant aid does free up the recipient's country funds for whatever use that government chooses, if you imagine that they had already planned to buy U.S. stuff with their own money. But that's very rarely the case.
This is actually one of the few decidedly positive characteristics of military aid over other types of development aid: no one expects it to be no-strings-attached! (Well, except Pakistan, but I digress.)
Anyway, check out the article if you want some perspective on the way that a foreign and security policy based on support for client states rather than direct intervention can come back and bite you, but don't go looking for a thorough and informed analysis of the limitations of security assistance.