Shifting the Burden Responsibly: Oversight and Accountability in U.S. Security Sector Assistance

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The United States increasingly relies on allies and partners to accomplish shared security objectives around the globe. In recent years, a greater emphasis has been placed from burden sharing to burden shifting—enabling allies and partners to assume responsibility for their own security challenges through security sector assistance. Burden shifting responsibly to allies and partners requires the United States to integrate oversight and accountability measures into the implementation of security sector assistance. Oversight and accountability mechanisms for security sector assistance allow the United States to better direct, track, and calibrate its assistance to partners to ensure the full scope of U.S. policy goals are met. However, amid reforms being undertaken by the U.S. government to adapt security sector assistance policy and processes, greater clarity is needed on how to connect policy goals of oversight and accountability to planning, operations, doctrine, and training across the security assistance enterprise. This study conducted by the CSIS Cooperative Defense Project builds upon its previous initiative, entitled Oversight and Accountability in Security Sector Assistance: Seeking Return on Investment, to assess the levels of progress on implementing reforms throughout the security sector assistance enterprise and developing an action plan that addresses specific issues along planning, operations, policy and doctrine, and training lines of effort.

This report is made possible by generous support from the Open Society Foundations.



Hijab Shah

Asya Akca

Tommy Ross

Melissa Dalton