Bush announces expansion of
U.S. training of foreign militaries

July 2002


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 year.

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.

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