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Security Forces in African States: Cases and Assessment By Paul Shemella and Nichola ...

Chapter 1:  The Larger Context
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Security Forces in African States:

Chapter 1

The Larger Context

Paul Shemella

It is well known that most African polities suffer from the conditions brought about by weak or bad governance: poverty, illiteracy, political instability, and often conflict.1 Less well known is the degree to which the mismanagement of security forces has contributed to these outcomes. In this realm, issues of roles and missions loom large. As a general rule, armed forces are focused on providing what is known as traditional security through deterrence and defense, while law enforcement organizations anchor the government’s efforts to create a climate of human security throughout the society.2 Armed forces can be used to help governments improve human security along the difficult road to prosperity, literacy, political stability, and domestic tranquility. But that is not the primary role of armies and navies. As central as security is to social well-being, good governance is largely an exercise in making distinctions between these two broad types of security, and then applying armed forces, law enforcement, and intelligence resources appropriately (in coordination