Bush announces expansion of
U.S. training of foreign militaries
In a speech marking the six-month anniversary of the September
11 attacks, Pres. Bush announced a plan to expand U.S. training
of foreign militaries as part of the war on terror. Currently,
the U.S. trains nearly 40,000 non-NATO military personnel each
Every Western Hemisphere nation except Cuba receives military
training assistance, as do many other nations. Training occurs
both in foreign countries and at over 100 U.S. facilities. Following
are snapshots of four countries slated for expanded training.
The Administration asserts that Abu Sayyaf militants attempting
to seize control of the southern part of the Philippines are linked
to al Qaeda. The militants are associated with the kidnapping
of American civilians. The U.S. has sent more than 1000 troops
to train Philippine forces to counter this group.
Republic of Georgia.
The Administration believes that al Qaeda operatives are working
closely with Chechen rebels in the Pankisi Gorge near the Russian
border with Georgia. The U.S. plans to send up to 150 military
trainers to instruct Georgian military personnel.
The Administration believes that al Qaeda may relocate to remote
areas along the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, an area
thought to be a source of many al Qaeda recruits. The U.S. will
train and equip Yemeni forces to block a resurgence of al Qaeda
in the region.
The U.S. currently helps to train and equip the Colombian military
to fight the "war on drugs." Current restrictions bar
the Colombian government from using this aid to fight the rebel
groups in Colombia's civil war. However, the Bush Administration's
FY02 Supplemental Appropriations request would lift those restrictions
and expand military training.
Military training curriculum
The Department of Defense runs the foreign military training
programs. The curriculum of these programs may include skills
as diverse as English language education, weapons repair, interrogation
techniques, and commando skills. Few programs include any significant
amount of human rights education. The former School of the Americas
(renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation),
after years of intense pressure from concerned citizens in the
U.S., now offers a mandatory eight hours of human rights instruction
in a four-week training program.
Some training programs have undermined the stated will of
Congress. In 1992, Congress, concerned about the human rights
record of the Indonesian military, blocked the use of funds from
the International Military Education and Training (IMET) account
to train Indonesian military personnel. The Department of Defense
sidestepped this barrier by using funds from another account.
Congress did not discover the continued training until 1998.