By Tim Starks
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, military aid to other nations has expanded. Under President Barack Obama, who has talked about minimizing the direct U.S. role in conflicts, it’s a big deal. And in the fiscal 2015 defense policy bill, there were seven new security assistance programs created and eight more reauthorized. One expert thinks it’s gone too far.
“Unfortunately, U.S. military aid programs perform poorly far too often, and they are growing rapidly without adequate congressional or public scrutiny,” writes William Hartung of the Center for International Policy. That means adding to conflict rather than ending it, or even contributing to human rights abuses.
Hartung argues that the Pentagon needs to produce a regular report on the nature of security assistance and the locales benefiting.
The proliferation of Pentagon assistance programs makes it difficult to conduct congressional oversight, or even to have an informed public discussion of these programs. A critical step towards conducting that oversight is knowing who is receiving aid, how much they are receiving, what it consists of, and how it is being used. And most importantly of all, the Pentagon should provide a clear explanation of the goals and objectives of such assistance and why it is in U.S. interests to supply arms and training to each of the proposed recipients.