Military aid defined
Military aid is aid which is used to assist an ally in its defense efforts, or to assist a poor country in maintaining control over its own territory. Many countries receive military aid to help with counter-insurgency efforts. Or it could be given to rebellions to help fight another country.
This aid may be given in the form of credits for foreign militaries to buy weapons and equipment from the donor country.
Types of US military aid
There are three main programs where military funding is allocated:
Foreign military financing provides grants for the acquisition of U.S. defense equipment, services, and training. These grants enable friends and allies to improve their defense capabilities. The goals of FMF are
Promoting national security by contributing to regional and global stability
Strengthening military support for democratically-elected governments and containing transnational threats, including terrorism and trafficking in narcotics, weapons, and persons
Fostering closer military relationships between the U.S. and recipient nations
Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) provide voluntary support for international peacekeeping activities. These funds support non-U.N. operations and training in response to a nation’s crisis. The goals of PKO are
- Promoting increased involvement of regional organizations in conflict resolution
- Helping leverage support for multinational efforts in the event of a nation’s crisis
The International Military Education and Training program (IMET) offers military training on a grant basis to foreign military officials. The goals of IMET are
- Encouraging effective defense relationships
- Promoting interoperability with U.S. and coalition forces
Exposing foreign civilian and military officials to democratic values, military professionalism, and international norms of human rights
No single definition, many types of military aid
Public Integrity, 2007, A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding US Foreign Military Aid, http://www.publicintegrity.org/2007/05/22/5772/citizen-s-guide-understanding-us-foreign-military-aid
There is no single, accepted definition of the terms “foreign aid” or even “foreign military aid” or “military assistance.” For a government as large as that of the United States, it’s virtually impossible to track all of the various federal agencies’ programs across countries and sectors to arrive at a single number that captures the true amount of U.S. taxpayer dollars going to foreign governments, or even just their militaries.
For the “Collateral Damage” investigative study, the Center for Public Integrity created a database that tracks a subset of those financial flows: taxpayer-funded programs or assistance that contribute to a nation’s offensive military capabilities. The database does not include certain large nuclear non-proliferation programs or expenditures such as Foreign Military Sales or Direct Commercial Sales, which are not supported directly with taxpayer dollars. The database is also limited to tracking funds appropriated to either the Defense Department or the State Department. For this report, these are the criteria for “foreign military assistance” or “foreign military aid.”
Funds appropriated to the State Department and Defense Department represent the vast majority of unclassified military aid and assistance. This report does not attempt to track smaller overseas programs where funding is appropriated to the Justice Department, Drug Enforcement Agency, or Department of Homeland Security. The public does not have any way of tracking classified programs administered by the U.S. intelligence community. These classified programs likely command large amounts of funding, especially after the 9/11 attacks, and oversight is limited to members of congressional intelligence committees.
Programs included in the Center’s database:
Coalition Support Funds (CSF): created after 9/11 to reimburse key allied countries for providing assistance to the U.S. in the global war on terror.
Regional Defense Counterterrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP): created after 9/11 to give the Defense Department its own funding to train and educate foreign military officers in counterterrorism techniques. In practice, CTFP has evolved into a program very similar to IMET (see definition below).
Department of Defense Counterdrug Funding: assists foreign militaries and security forces to combat drug trafficking around the world; also known as Section 1004 appropriations.
Economic Support Fund (ESF): provides grants to foreign governments to support economic stability. ESF is often used for non-military purposes, but the grants are commonly viewed as a way to help offset military expenditures. They have historically been earmarked for key security allies of the United States. Israel and Egypt are the two largest recipients of ESF.
Foreign Military Financing (FMF): finances foreign governments’ acquisition of U.S. military articles, services and training.
International Military Education and Training (IMET): educates foreign military personnel on issues ranging from democracy and human rights to technical military techniques and training on U.S. weapons systems.
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement/Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI): the primary State Department funding effort for countering drugs, including the large Colombian initiatives.
Military Assistance Program (MAP): provides military material and services to foreign countries; the U.S. government is not reimbursed. MAP includes “emergency drawdowns,” which are emergency transfers authorized by the president for weapons, ammunition, parts and military equipment to foreign governments.
Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, De-mining and Related Activities (NADR): supports de-mining, anti-terrorism, and nonproliferation training and assistance.
Peacekeeping Operations (PKO): supports programs that improve foreign militaries’ peacekeeping capabilities.
Foreign military assistance programs
Federation of American Scientists, US Foreign Military Assistance, no date, http://www.fas.org/asmp/profiles/aid/aidindex.htm
Listed below are several U.S. programs that provide foreign states with military and related assistance, directly and indirectly supporting U.S. arms transfers.
Foreign Military Financing: Foreign Military Financing refers to congressionally appropriated grants given to foreign governments to finance the purchase of American-made weapons, services and training. Since 1950, the US government has provided over $91 billion in FMF to militaries around the world. The vast majority of these funds goes to Israel and Egypt to reward them for making a cold peace in 1979.
Economic Support Fund: Congress established the economic support fund (ESF) to promote economic and political stability in strategically important regions where the United States has special security interests. The funds are provided on a grant basis and are available for a variety of economic purposes, like infrastructure and development projects. Although not intended for military expenditure, these grants allow the recipient government to free up its own money for military programs.
- International Military Education and Training: International Military Education and Training (IMET) grants are given to foreign governments to pay for professional education in military management and technical training on US weapons systems. Over 2,000 courses are offered, including some on human rights and civil-military relations. This program is said by its proponents to promote positive military-to-military contacts, thereby familiarizing foreign officers with “US values and democratic processes,” though critics argue there is too much emphasis on military skills and not enough on human rights. The Expanded IMET program offered to certain states only focuses on the latter.
- Counter-Narcotics Assistance: Through International Narcotics Control programs, the US government provides funds for military equipment and training to overseas police and armed forces to combat the production and trafficking of illegal drugs. These funds are generally dedicated to the export of firearms and the refurbishment of surveillance aircraft, transport planes and helicopters.Additional counter-narcotics training and equipment is provided by the Department of Defense, the Drug Enforcement Agency and other agencies. In recent years, human rights abuses by military and police units receiving this aid – especially in Colombia – have intensified criticism of the program.
Non-Proliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs: This category of funding provides resources in support of a variety of security-related foreign policy objectives. Funds go to nuclear non-proliferation programs, anti-terrorism aid, demining activities, and – a new item in FY 2001 – small arms destruction programs.
- “Anti-Terrorism Program of the Department of State,” State Department, 1985. Obtained by the National Security Archive.
Peacekeeping Operations: These funds provide voluntary support for international peacekeeping activities (as opposed to the U.S. share of UN-assessed peacekeeping operations, which is financed elsewhere). PKO funds promote increased involvement of regional organizations in conflict resolution and help leverage support for multinational efforts where no formal cost sharing mechanism is available.
Assistance for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union: The Freedom Support Act (FSA) was passed in Congress on October 24, 1992 with the goal of providing the states of the former Soviet Union funds that support free market and democratic reforms through demilitarization, humanitarian and technical assistance. The bill particularly endorses American investment and trade through enterprise funds, small business programs and access to credits for purchases of U.S. food exports. The FSA also provides funding for nuclear nonproliferation programs and activities, as well as the dismantlement and destruction of biological, chemical and conventional weapons, and humanitarian aid, including health and human services programs. While funds allocated through this program are not used to purchase weapons or military training per se, they are used to enhance law enforcement and border security capabilities. These funds also free up money that the recipient government can then spend in other ways, including on defense.
Many different types of military aid. There are also different purposes
Global Issues, May 3, 2010, Military Aid, http://www.globalissues.org/article/785/military-ai
Military aid can be controversial. Its stated aim is usually to help allies or poor countries fight terrorism, counter-insurgencies or to help fight drug wars.
The aid may be in the form of training, or even giving credits for foreign militaries to purchase weapons and equipment from the donor country.
It is argued that strengthening military relationships can strengthen relationships between nations and military aid may be a way to achieve that. Where the two nations are democracies, it is believed such relationships can be strengthened even further when the militaries of the respective nations are fully behind the principles of democracy.
But military aid may even be given to opposition groups to fight nations. This could be understandable if the opposition is a potential democratic force standing up against authoritarian rule.
However, as was especially seen during the Cold War, democratic nations (or potentially emerging democratic fledgling nations) often found themselves fighting foreign supported undemocratic forces because of geopolitical goals of the superpowers who tolerated or supported such regimes and dictatorships in order to achieve their own geopolitical aims.