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, with its Department of Defense providing funding and/or American military hardware aid to over 150 countries annually for defense purposes.

Military funding programs[edit]

There are three main programs where military funding is allocated:

  1. 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] FMF is allowed under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), which as amended [22 U.S.C. 2751, et. seq.], authorizes the President to finance procurement of defense articles and services for foreign countries and international organizations.[3] 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
  2. 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.[4] 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
  3. The International Military Education and Training program (IMET) offers military training on a grant basis to foreign military officials.[5] 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 South Korea, US military aid has been beneficial for the maintenance of national security, economic and social development, and civilization as a whole.[6]

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.[citation needed]


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.[7]
  • Foreign aid often aids the giver, not the recipient.[citation needed]
  • Corruption is a major problem. Funds often go directly to leaders who may not share the aid with citizens.[citation needed]
  • The United States gives the same amount of money to its top five aid recipients as they give to the rest of the world.[8]
  • Military aid went to Latin American dictatorships in the second half of the 20th century.[citation needed]
  • Generally, increasing levels of US military aid significantly reduces cooperative foreign policy behavior with the United States [9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Foreign Aid. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  2. ^ Foreign Military Financing Account Summary. Retrieved 2011-03-01.
  3. ^ "Foreign Military Financing (FMF) | The Official Home of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency". www.dsca.mil. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
  4. ^ Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy (PDF). Retrieved 2011-03-01.
  5. ^ IMET Assessment Project 2007-2008. Retrieved 2011-03-01.
  6. ^ Choi, Tae Young (1989). "Effect Analysis of U.S. Military Aid to the Republic of Korea" (PDF). Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, California. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 24, 2020.
  7. ^ A Citizen's Guide to Understanding U.S. Foreign Military Aid. Retrieved 2011-03-01.
  8. ^ Noah GrantJust the Facts: Foreign Aid vs. Military Spending. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  9. ^ Sullivan, Patricia; Tessman, Brock; Li, Xiaojun (2011). "US Military Aid and Recipient State Cooperation". Foreign Policy Analysis. 7 (3): 275–294. doi:10.1111/j.1743-8594.2011.00138.x.

External links[edit]