Civil-Military Relations and the Effectiveness of Military Alliances in International Security Preference Alignment, Coordination and Capability-Building Activities of the Republic of Korea-United States Alliance
Exploring the issue of peacetime capability-building activities, this thesis examines the question of why a military alliance is able to implement the activities effectively and acquire needed capability at some times, but cannot do so at other times. Although policy-makers of allied countries have striven to figure out ways to improve overall capability of their alliance, existing efforts in academia have yet to provide a systematic approach to understand military effectiveness of capability-building activities. Some scholars in the Alliance Effectiveness literature, paying great attention to the effect of external threat, have been shackled to the capability-aggregation assumption. Others in the literature challenge the tendency of overrating external threats, and endeavour to assess effects of internal threat, interests, norms and institutions on allies’ behaviours (i.e. such issues as alliance cohesion and reliability). Interested in explaining combat outcome, academics in the Military Effectiveness literature have typically focused on regime type, unit-level social factors (e.g. unit cohesion, leadership, or morale), organizational factors, and sources of fighting power. This literature touches on allies’ capability-building activities, but reveals their limited contribution to this thesis. Firstly, the literature is inclined to a wartime-oriented approach. Secondly, their discussions do not weave capability-building activities and military alliances together. Thirdly, the effectiveness with regard to designing and implementing capability-building activities remains unexplored and has not been a subject through which a theoretical framework has been developed.
Building on studies of burden-sharing in military alliances, this thesis maintains that smaller allies need to take more roles in the processes of capability-building activities. In general, smaller allies are dependent on their larger allies vis-à-vis military capability, meaning that the latter helps the former in terms of a capability-building activity. However, since the dependence could increase the larger ally’s concern about a smaller ally’s free-riding, the burden-sharing is conducive to maintaining the larger ally’s commitment to the capability-building activity. Moreover, such burden-sharing means that the smaller ally could proactively participate in the activity by contemplating its capability needs. In light of this, this thesis argues that, as to the question at the start of this abstract, domestic dynamics of smaller allies matter. In other words, although allies agree on ends and means of a capability-building activity, verified and solidified via an international contract, the activity could be effective or ineffective, because of dynamics internal to smaller allies. This thesis puts forward two independent variables on the domestic dynamics. Firstly, preference alignment between civilian and military leaders affects military effectiveness of capability-building activities. As agency theory suggests, if their preferences are diverged, military leaders shirk their responsibility to their chief executive and their civilian agents. As a consequence, a policy drift, a delay, ensues. Under the condition of preference cleavage, one does not see progress in the process of a capability-building activity. Secondly, military effectiveness could increase with successful civil–military coordination. If a chief executive capitalizes on monitoring measures under their authority such as appointment, support of governing party and mid-course inspections, military effectiveness rises. Moreover, civilian leaders’ efforts to promote consultations with military leaders (e.g. by conducting briefings and meetings, and organizing consultation apparatuses) greatly contribute to military effectiveness. This process, in conjunction with the monitoring measure, could facilitate exchange of relevant information, and result in more concrete and feasible guidelines from the civilian leaders. The benefits of civil–military coordination notwithstanding, monitoring and consultation measures cause costs. Monitoring means newly appointed officials may need time, budget and human resources to catch up with specifics of capability-building activities. Likewise, briefings, meetings and consultative apparatuses require additional resources.
This theory was tested with the case of the Republic of Korea (ROK)–US alliance. Well known for its degree of integration, the ROK–US alliance has not been questioned in terms of military effectiveness by academics and policy analysts. Thus, by selecting the ROK–US alliance, this thesis is able to show that such a highly integrated alliance could experience severe ineffectiveness. Therefore, this thesis intends to increase external validity of the aforementioned theory of civil-military relations. Specific tasks carried out to explore causal impact of preference alignment and civil–military coordination are as follows: categorizing capability-building activities of the ROK–US alliance, devising indicators of military effectiveness, and explaining how the impact transforms into military effectiveness. Proposing three categories of capability-building activities (procurement, deployment and command structure reform), this thesis develops effectiveness indicators of cost-sharing, training/exercises, technology transfer, contact points, supply of parts, timeliness and design adequacy. The case studies include fighter jet procurement projects, the wartime operational control (OPCON) transfer, and the Theatre High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) deployment of the ROK–US alliance. The THAAD and the OPCON are the sole cases of deployment and command structure reform, and the fighter jet projects (a.k.a. Korea Fighter Project (KFP) and FX-I) are one of the most large-scale procurement activities between the ROK and the US. Through the case studies, this thesis confirmed that variations in military effectiveness of the case studies were fully explained with preference alignment and civil–military coordination.