“By, with, and through” — a common phrase for describing partnered operations in the U.S. defense lexicon — is the new normal of U.S. military operations around the world. Partnered operations can lower the costs of achieving U.S. security goals, and, if designed well, can also improve security for civilians. Yet, even after decades of experience, too little is understood about how partnered operations can be best planned and implemented to mitigate harm to civilians. Nor is there sufficient policy guidance for circumstances in which the risks to civilians outweigh the benefits of continuing the partnership.
In recent testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, the four-star commanders of U.S. Central and Africa Commands described “by, with, and through” as the preferred approach for securing U.S. interests in their theaters. Examples of U.S.contributions to such operations include training, leading joint planning, intelligence-sharing, accompanying partner forces on counterterrorism missions, and providing air support to partner ground operations.