Military aid is when a country provides another with finances, training, weapons, and equipment to increase the capabilities of its armed forces. Often military aid is provided by richer nations to developing countries they see as strategically important. However, military aid is highly controversial.
Many people feel providing military assistance to other countries is the wrong thing to do. Although the criticisms of military assistance are not necessarily wrong, in fact there are many ways that overseas military aid does a lot good…
It Helps Countries Defend Themselves
The first reason why military aid is a good thing is because it helps weaker countries defend themselves.
Many countries, especially poor and developing nations, struggle to train and equip their armed forces. Many of these countries also face internal security threats and are at risk of external aggression. Providing military support to these countries is beneficial because it gives them the finances, equipment and training needed to achieve security.
All countries have the right to defend themselves. Richer countries providing military aid to poorer ones is a good thing because otherwise many would face increased internal and external security threats.
An example of how military assistance has helped countries to defend themselves include the Western support currently being given to Ukraine. Following the insurgency by Russian back separatists in the east, military aid provided by Western countries has helped Ukraine to defend it’s itself and deterred further Russian involvement.
Another example of the benefit of overseas military aid has been the support given to the Kurdish region is northern Iraq. The Kurdish Peshmerga forces receive significant funds, training, and equipment in military aid. This has helped them combat ISIS and achieve security throughout the Kurdish region of the country.
Military Aid Deters Aggression
The second reason why military aid is a good thing is because it helps countries deter aggression and reduces the likelihood that other countries will attack them.
There are many countries that face threats directly from other countries or armed groups supported by other nations. Military aid is beneficial because it increases the strength of a country’s military – acting as a deterrence against aggression.
Weaker countries are more likely to be attacked, or to have outside powers interfere in their affairs. By providing military aid, donors countries are increasing the capacity of poorer countries armed forces. Improving a country’s military through additional finances, training and improved equipment makes them harder to attack.
An example of the benefit of military aid in deterring aggression is the support given to the Baltic countries by NATO. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were all parts of the Soviet Union and some think they should fall within Russia’s sphere of influence. As EU and NATO members, all three receive substantial military support to deter interference by Russia.
A further example that shows the advantage of overseas military aid in deterring attacks by other countries is US support to South Korea. America provides billions of dollars in military aid to South Korea, as well as training and equipment, to deter invasion by North Korea.
It Can Provide Stability
Another beneficial aspect of military aid is that it can help build and maintain stability within a country or region.
Providing military aid to countries in unstable regions can help them combat threats and bring security within their territory. It can also help nations control their region and help countries to work together to combat mutual enemies. Overseas military aid is a good thing because the stability it can bring leads to increased development, investment, and trade – making countries and regions more prosperous.
Countries that are faced with instability often lack the military capabilities to bring security. Military aid is beneficial because it increases the capacity of poorer countries armed forces, making them more effective in fighting internal and external threats and bringing stability and security.
An example of the good military aid can do in helping countries achieve a degree of stability is Iraq. Following the occupation by ISIS of much of the north of country, overseas military aid helped the Iraqi armed forces to combat ISIS and bring stability to area.
Another example of how military aid can be beneficial in bringing security to a country is Egypt. Millions of dollars in military assistance is provided to Egypt, largely by America. This is used to fight internal security threats, including Islamist militants – resulting in increased stability in the country.
It Helps Fight Terrorism and International Crime
Terrorism and organised crime are major international threats. Military aid is a good thing because it helps poorer countries to tackle these threats at their source, preventing their spread.
Terrorists and international criminals often base themselves in countries that are less secure or lack effective militaries and policing. From there they are able to threaten many countries and regions as it provides a base for their operations. Military Aid is beneficial because it provides the capabilities – in training, equipment, finances, and intelligence, needed to help poorer countries tackle these issues.
Criminal gangs, such as drug cartels, mafia groups and human traffickers, as well as international terror networks, affect more than one country or region. Military aid is a good thing because it helps contain their activities.
An example of military support being used to fight international crime is the aid provided by the US to the Columbian government. This military aid is used to tackle international drug cartels. Although the fight continues, the improved ability of the Columbian armed forces to tackle drug gangs shows that military aid can be highly beneficial.
Military aid provided to many Middle Eastern countries, such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, have increased their capacity to fight terrorism and prevented attacks in Europe and America. This is another example of the good overseas military assistance can do.
Military Aid Can Be Key to Development
Another reason why overseas military aid is a good thing is because it can play a key part in helping countries develop.
Many poorer countries fail to develop because they stuck in what is known as the ‘conflict trap’. This is where a cycle is created where poverty leads to resentment that leads to conflict, which in-turn exacerbates poverty. Military aid has been proven to help countries break the conflict trap by allowing them to contain armed violence and address the root causes of poverty.
Development work can often not go ahead until conflicts are resolved. By improving a countries capacity to defeat armed groups and prevent the spread of violence, it allows space for development projects to be implemented.
An example of the benefits military aid can have in development is Iraq. Poverty and inequality were major drivers for the rise of ISIS. However, until the militant group was defeated, it was impossible to improve living conditions. Military aid played a vital role in helping the Iraqi security forces defeat ISIS and achieve security in northern Iraq – allowing for government, United Nations, and international NGOs to begin poverty reduction and development work.
It Leads to Development of New Military Technology
Overseas military aid is a good thing because it can lead to the development of more advanced military technology.
When nations work together and their militaries coordinate, they often share training, equipment, and tactics. Military aid can be beneficial to both the donor country and the recipient nation because it creates an opportunity to exchange ideas. This can lead to the development of new military technology which can benefit both countries.
Combining the expertise of different armed forces, especially those that operate in different contexts or face different threats, can be enormously beneficial. This is why military aid is a good thing.
An example of how military aid can lead to the development of new military technology is the US support given to Israel. America provides millions of dollars to Israel in military aid. This has helped develop an advanced arms industry in the country. The Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system is an instance of new military technology coming out of this partnership. The US has recently received a number of Iron Dome systems, allowing them access to the technology in part as an exchange for their military aid.
Military Aid Builds Alliances
Military aid plays a key role in building alliances between nations, and this is way it is highly beneficial.
All countries need alliances – they provide international support and can act as a deterrence against aggression. Many international alliances are built around sharing military resources and providing military assistance.
Alliances built using military aid can be between richer countries and poorer ones – where military aid is provided to help the weaker county defend itself and achieve security. They can also be built around groups of nations within a region that provide military support to each other to deter aggression.
An example of military aid being used to build alliances is NATO. European and North American countries provide training, expertise, and equipment to each other, as well as provide mutual security guarantees, in order to prevent outside forces from attacking.
It Provides Jobs and Boosts the Economy
Another reason why military aid is a good thing is that is provides a boost the economy of the donor nation.
When countries donate military aid, they often include conditions that military equipment must be bought from their companies. This gives a major boost to arms developers in donor countries – in-turn providing jobs, research and development and increased investment.
Many of the major military aid donor countries have developed extensive arms industries. Although selling weapons overseas is controversial, especially when going to unfavourable regimes, there is strong evidence that military aid provides a significant economic boost. This is definitely a factor in its favour.
An example of the benefit military can have on the economy of the donor nation is the UK arms industry. Britain exports around eleven billion pounds a year in military equipment – much in the form over overseas military aid. 200,000 jobs are created in the UK because of this industry. In fact, many believe the reluctance of the UK government to reduce arms sales to Saudi Arabia in relation to the conflict in Yemen was because of the significant economic benefit of arms sales. This was despite widespread controversy over the use of British weapons by Saudi Arabia in the conflict.
It Helps Build Peace
The final reason why overseas military aid is good is that it can help build lasting peace.
Many countries facing conflicts lack the capabilities to defeat armed groups and achieve security. Although almost all conflicts require a negotiated settlement, often military force is needed to bring warring factions to the table. Providing military aid to poorer countries is a good thing as it can help them tackle their security threats and bring an end to conflicts.
Wars devastate lives. They bring death, injury, and destruction. They prevent development and cause millions to flee their homes. Often, military assistance is needed to fight armed groups and allow governments to regain control of their territory. This allows for people to return home, rebuild their lives and begin to prosper. This is why military aid is a good thing.
An example of military aid playing a key role in achieving peace is South Korea. By bolstering the South Korean armed forces, it has allowed for a sustained period of peace. This has resulted in South Korea becoming one of the richest and most developed countries in the world since the end of the Korean War.
Another example of military aid helping to create peace and stability is NATO. The effective alliance and military partnership between North American and European countries has been credited with creating the lasting peace in Europe since World War Two. This shows the real good military aid can do.