United States military aid

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The United States government first recognized the usefulness of foreign aid as a tool of diplomacy in World War II. It was believed that it would promote liberal capitalist models of development in other countries and that it would enhance national security.[1]

The United States is the largest contributor of military aid to foreign countries in the world, providing some form of assistance to over 150 countries each year.

Military funding programs[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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

Some examples of this would include the United States' efforts in Colombia and South Korea. Military aid has been successful in stopping insurgency, providing stability, and ending conflicts within the region.

In many other cases, military aid has laid the groundwork for other forms of aid. This aid includes building schools to promote education, providing clean drinking water, and further stabilizing food production. Without military aid, this development would have been impossible.

Some may say that military aid is increasing insurgency in the area, but examples of French and United Nations' efforts show that it has been stopping terrorist forces; especially in Africa.

Criticisms[edit]

Currently, Congress wants to cut defense spending by lowering the amount of aid given to foreign militaries.[5] Money saved from proposed cutbacks could benefit the U.S. military, which is closing military bases, freezing pay raises for service members, and cut the defense budget by $78 billion in 2011.[5]

Particular targets of criticism include

  • Funds appropriated to the State Department and Defense Department represent the vast majority of unclassified military aid and assistance. The public does not have any way of tracking classified programs administered by the U.S. intelligence community.[6]
  • The U.S. provides assistance to the Colombian army which has documented ties with paramilitary groups on the U.S. terrorist list.
  • Foreign aid often aids the giver, not the recipient.
  • Corruption is a major problem. Funds often go directly to leaders who may not share the aid with citizens.
  • The United States gives the same amount of money to its top five aid recipients as they give to the rest of the world.[7]
  • Military aid went to Latin American dictatorships in the second half of the 20th century.
  • Tunisia has received military aid for several helicopters despite blatant human rights violations, abuse of power and the existence of a police state.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]