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School of the Americas: U.S. Military Training for Latin American
Countries (Letter Report, 08/22/96, GAO/NSIAD-96-178).
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the
School of the Americas and a Department of Defense (DOD) initiative to
strengthen civilian institutions involved in defense and security
activities in Latin American countries.
GAO found that: (1) the School of the Americas is the predominant
training choice for Latin American military and police forces; (2) an
average of 1,371 students attended the School from 1984 to 1993; (3)
many of the School's courses provide instruction in military and combat
skills; (4) the School has broadened its curriculum to include courses
on countermine training, defense resource management, and civil-military
relations; (5) the courses range from a 1-week basic military skills
course to a 47-week command and general staff officer course; (6) 50
U.S. military personnel and 33 Latin American military personnel were
assigned to the School for fiscal year 1996; (7) the School is
strategically important to the United States as a foreign policy too
because it supports short- and long-term U.S. economic, political, and
military interests in Latin America; (8) the School's curriculum is
based on U.S. military doctrine with an emphasis on human rights; and
(9) the DOD is considering whether to establish a separate institution
to focus on civil-military relations and the development of greater
civilian expertise in Latin America.
--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------
     TITLE:  School of the Americas: U.S. Military Training for Latin 
             American Countries
      DATE:  08/22/96
   SUBJECT:  International cooperation
             Army personnel
             Foreign military students
             Foreign military training
             Foreign military assistance
             Foreign policies
IDENTIFIER:  Latin America
             International Military Education and Training Program
             Foreign Military Sales Program
             International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program
             DOD Expanded IMET Initiative
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================================================================ COVER
Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Committee on National
Security, House of Representatives
August 1996
School of the Americas
=============================================================== ABBREV
  DOD - Department of Defense
  IMET - International Military Education and Training
  NCO - noncommissioned officer
  TRADOC - Training and Doctrine Command
=============================================================== LETTER
August 22, 1996
The Honorable Ronald V.  Dellums
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives
Dear Mr.  Dellums: 
The U.S.  Army School of the Americas has been training Latin
American military students for the last 50 years.  In response to
your request, we are providing information on (1) how the Latin
American political, military, and economic environment in which the
School operates has changed in recent years; (2) who the School's
attendees are and how they are selected; (3) how the School's
curriculum has evolved; and (4) who provides the instruction. 
Additionally, we are providing information on a recent Department of
the Army study covering the School and on a Department of Defense
(DOD) initiative to strengthen civilian institutions involved in
defense and security in Latin America. 
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1
The U.S.  Army School of the Americas, located at Fort Benning,
Georgia, is a military educational institution that has trained over
57,000 officers, cadets, noncommissioned officers (NCO), and
civilians from Latin America and the United States over the past 50
years.  According to the State Department, the training provided by
the School is intended to be a long-term investment in a positive
relationship with Latin America.  Today's School is derived from
several predecessor institutions, beginning with a 1946 Army school
established primarily to provide technical instruction to U.S. 
personnel, with limited training for Latin Americans.  In 1987, under
Public Law 100-180 (10 U.S.C.  4415), Congress formally authorized
the Secretary of the Army to operate the School with the purpose of
providing military education and training to military personnel of
Central American, South American, and Caribbean countries. 
Appendix I provides a chronology of the School's history. 
The School is funded from two sources:  (1) the Army's operations and
maintenance account, which covers overhead costs such as civilians'
pay, guest instructor programs, supplies and equipment, certain
travel expenses, and contracts, and (2) reimbursements from U.S. 
security assistance provided to Latin American countries, which cover
costs associated with presenting the courses, including instructional
supplies and materials; required travel for courses; and support for
the School's library and publications.  In fiscal year 1995, the
School received $2.6 million from the Army's operations and
maintenance account.  In addition, the School's courses generated
$1.2 million from foreign militaries using U.S.  security assistance
grant funds.\1 The School retains about 35 percent of this amount to
defray its costs for course offerings.  Fort Benning uses another 37
percent to defray costs associated with infrastructure maintenance,
and the remainder is transferred to Department of the Army
\1 Sources of grant funds include International Military Education
and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing, and International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement programs. 
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2
The Latin American environment in which the School operates is
undergoing radical political and economic change.  Virtually all of
the countries of the region have representative governments and are
pursuing market-based economic policies.  In addition, the role of
the military in many of these societies is beginning to evolve from
one of political dominance to a more professional model subordinate
to the civilian authority.  However, in some countries, civilian
authority is weak and fragmented, and problems such as corruption
within the government and human rights violations associated with
government authorities, particularly military and police forces,
remain as threats to the gains made over the past decade. 
Although the School trains the majority of Latin American students
that come to the United States for Army training, primarily because
the curriculum is taught in Spanish, it provides a small percent of
the training that the Army provides to foreign students from around
the world.  Virtually all of the 745 students attending the School in
1995 represented their countries' military or police forces, with few
civilians attending the School.  Country representation in the
student population typically reflects the dominant U.S.  interests at
various points in time. 
Many of the courses at the School provide instruction in military and
combat skills, such as patrolling, infantry tactics, tactical
intelligence, and battle planning.  However, since 1990, the
curriculum has been broadened to include courses addressing post-Cold
War needs of the region, such as countermine training, defense
resource management, and civil-military relations.  The length of the
courses and attendance vary significantly, from a 1-week course that
provides an overview of basic military skills to
162 Chilean cadets to a 47-week command and general staff officer
course attended by 19 students from 9 Latin American countries and 19
officers from the U.S.  armed forces, in 1995.  The courses offered
at the School are based on U.S.  military doctrine, and foreign
students from other regions receive basically the same courses at
other Army training locations, with the exception of the School's
emphasis on human rights. 
Courses are taught by U.S.  and Latin American military personnel and
some civilian instructors.  For fiscal year 1996, 83 instructors are
assigned to the School--50 U.S.  military personnel and 33 military
personnel from Latin America.  The Latin American instructors are
nominated by their governments and are subject to U.S.  approval. 
A recent study contracted for by the Army to determine whether the
School should be retained and why concluded that the School should
continue but recommended a number of changes.  DOD agreed with many
of these recommendations in principle, and for those in its purview
it is considering how best to implement them. 
In response to the emerging post-Cold War need to strengthen civilian
institutions in Latin America, DOD is considering establishing a
separate institution to focus on civil-military relations and the
development of greater civilian expertise in the region's defense
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3
The last decade has seen remarkable change in Latin America as
countries throughout the region have embraced political and economic
freedom.  Today, all Latin American nations, except Cuba, have
democratically elected leaders, increasingly open economies, and
increased political freedoms.  It is within this changing political,
military, and economic environment that the School of the Americas
has been operating. 
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.1
The end of the Cold War and the spread of democratic government
around the world have accelerated dramatic change in Latin America. 
Over the past 15 years, the region has seen a significant shift away
from dictatorships and military regimes.  Today, virtually all Latin
American countries have representative governments, although the
democratic institutions in many of these countries are in their
embryonic stage.\2 Reflecting the fragile nature of democracy in some
countries, the 1991 Santiago Resolution of the Organization of
American States called for the preservation and strengthening of
democratic systems and was reinforced at the 1995 Defense Ministerial
of the Americas in Williamsburg, Virginia. 
However, it remains unclear whether the democratic gains of the 1980s
can be sustained.  In some countries, civilian institutions are
relatively weak and fragmented and are vulnerable to economic and
social instability.  Corruption within the governments, including
military and law enforcement agencies, also threatens the continued
stability of democratic governments. 
\2 Abraham F.  Lowenthal, and Peter Hakim, "Latin American Democracy
in the 1990s:  The Challenges Ahead," Evolving U.S.  Strategy for
Latin America and the Caribbean (Washington, D.C.:  National Defense
University Press, 1992). 
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.2
The move toward democratically elected governments has caused the
role of the militaries in Latin America to undergo significant
change.  The militaries were frequently political, and largely
autonomous, actors in regional affairs and often played a dominant
role in their societies.  In recent years, however, the militaries
appear to have become less prone to political intervention.  The
concern exists, however, that this inclination is not permanent, and
that democratization is not irreversible.  The recent coup attempt in
Paraguay, while rebuffed, demonstrates the fragile nature of
democracy in Latin America. 
Further, human rights violations continue to be a concern in the
region.  The 1995 State Department report on human rights states that
even though progress has been made, widespread abuses of human rights
continue in some Latin American countries.  For example, although
progress was made in negotiations between the Guatemalan government
and guerrillas and human rights activists were elected to the
country's congress, serious human rights abuses continued to occur in
Guatemala in 1995.  In Mexico, serious problems also remain, such as
extrajudicial killings by the police and illegal arrests. 
Colombia is another country in the region that continues to face
major human rights problems associated with its military, including
killings, torture, and disappearances.  The State Department has
expressed concerns about human rights violators' impunity from
prosecution.  The State Department's recent report on Colombia noted
that the military has usually failed to prosecute human rights abuse
cases involving military personnel.  Several sources, including the
Organization of American States, have expressed concern about
Colombia's human rights record.  In response, during its 1996
session, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, of which
Colombia is a member, authorized the High Commissioner on Human
Rights to establish an office in Colombia--an unusual step.  The
office is expected to monitor and assess the human rights situation
in Colombia, including Colombia's progress in correcting its human
rights abuses; provide assistance to Colombia to correct those
abuses; and report its findings at next year's convention. 
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.3
Economically, the region is shifting from protectionist and statist
economic models to free markets and export-oriented growth.  Leaders
throughout the region recognize the need to achieve macroeconomic
stability, and many countries are enduring painful economic
adjustments.  In some cases, economic reforms have further
exacerbated the concentration of income and wealth and thus widened
the already large disparity between the rich and the poor.  Although
the region's total gross domestic product increased between 1991 and
1993, an estimated 45 percent of the people are living in poverty. 
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.4
The end of the Cold War presented the United States with a new
foreign policy opportunity in Latin America.  The United States no
longer needs to bolster the militaries to stop communism and has
begun focusing more efforts on promoting economic and political
At the December 1994 Summit of the Americas hosted by the United
States, 34 democratically elected leaders from Latin America gathered
to commit their governments to open new markets, create a free trade
area throughout the hemisphere, strengthen the movement to democracy,
and improve the quality of life for all people of the region.  The
United States is working through multilateral institutions to further
the goals of the Summit of the Americas.  In recent testimony, for
example, the State Department described how the Inter-American
Development Bank is working for sustainable development and promoting
specific Summit mandates in the fields of health and education.\3
Consistent with the changing political and economic environment, the
United States is approaching security issues in the region in terms
of mutual cooperation.  Today, the U.S.  policy reflects the retreat
of the Communist threat and the political transformation in the Latin
American region.  It emphasizes support for democratically elected
governments, defense cooperation, confidence-building measures, and
the mitigation of transnational threats such as narcotrafficking and
international terrorism. 
The United States considers educating and training foreign militaries
and civilians a critical part of its national security strategy to
pursue the specific goal of promoting democracy in the Latin American
and Caribbean region.  Senior Army officials told us that
international military training programs\4 expose students to U.S. 
military doctrine and practices and include instruction for foreign
military members and civilians on developing defense resource
management systems, regard for democratic values and civilian control
of military, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and
counterdrug operations. 
In the U.S.  Security Strategy for the Americas, DOD identifies the
School of the Americas and two other military training institutions\5
as regional assets through which the United States can engage its
counterparts in the region. 
\3 U.S.  Foreign Policy and the International Financial Institutions,
statement by Joan E.  Spero, Department of State, before the
Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, House
Committee on Banking and Financial Services (Apr.25, 1996). 
\4 Foreign militaries purchase training from the U.S.  military using
funds granted or appropriated through three U.S.  foreign assistance
programs--Foreign Military Financing, International Narcotics and Law
Enforcement, and IMET.  In 1995, over 18,000 students received
training through these programs; about 2,600 were from countries in
Latin America and the Caribbean. 
\5 The other institutions are the Naval Small Craft and Technical
Training School, located in Panama, and the Inter-American Air Forces
Academy, located at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.  The schools are
operated by the U.S.  Navy and the U.S.  Air Force, respectively, and
provide training in Spanish to students from Latin America and the
Caribbean.  Since 1963, about 4,500 personnel have attended the Navy
school, and almost 30,000 have attended the Air Force school since
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4
Although the School of the Americas is one option among the many Army
schools and installations offering courses to foreign military
students, it is the predominant training choice for Latin Americans. 
While the number of students at the School has decreased over the
past few years because of reduced U.S.  funding for international
military training, School officials expect an increase this year due
to increases in training funding for 1996.  Students at the School
come primarily from their countries' military or police forces, with
a significant proportion from military or police academies.  Although
some countries have sent more students to the School than others, the
predominant countries represented at the School typically reflect
U.S.  interests in the region at a particular time. 
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.1
Of the 5,895 foreign students that came to the United States to
attend U.S.  Army training courses in fiscal year 1995, 842 (14
percent) were from Spanish-speaking Latin American and Caribbean
countries.  Of the 842, 745 (88 percent) of those attended the School
of the Americas.  The 97 Latin Americans that did not receive their
Army training at the School attended courses at 24 other Army
installations.  Some of these students took courses not offered at
the School, while others took similar courses but received their
instruction in English. 
The 745 students who attended the School in 1995 represented a
reduction in enrollment.  Between 1984 and 1993, an average of 1,371
students attended the School each year, with attendance ranging from
996 in 1985 to 1,763 in 1992.\6
According to School officials, a reduction in funding for
international military training contributed to the decrease in the
number of students.  The IMET program funds allocated to the Latin
American region were reduced from the 1993 level of $11.3 million to
about $5.1 million in 1994 and about $4.8 million in 1995.  This
reduced allocation reflects the reduction in total IMET funding for
those years--from $42.5 million in 1993 to about $22.3 million in
1994 and about $26.4 million in 1995.  However, officials at the
School project an increase in the number of students for 1996 since
IMET funding for the Latin American region for 1996 was increased to
$9.1 million. 
School officials said that the effect of the reduction in
international training funds was further compounded by increases in
the cost of the courses.  Inflation particularly affected certain
cost components, such as ammunition, flight support, course-related
travel, and the publication of training materials.  According to
School officials, the cost of some courses has doubled over the past
5 or 6 years, in large measure because of increases in the cost
components.  As a result, foreign militaries could not afford to send
higher numbers of students to the courses. 
\6 The School maintains attendance records based on the calendar
year, and the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) maintains
records on a fiscal year basis.  We adjusted the 1995 calendar year
attendance to fiscal year attendance for comparison with the overall
Army data but could not adjust the attendance back to 1984. 
Therefore, we are comparing the fiscal year attendance in 1995 to
calendar year average attendance between 1984 and 1993. 
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.2
According to School officials, because the curriculum is taught in
Spanish, Latin American and Caribbean military forces can select
students based on their military training needs without considering
their English language skills.  This allows the countries to save
funds that might have to be spent for preparatory English language
courses.  Candidates are identified by foreign military officials and
approved by U.S.  officials at the U.S.  embassies in Latin America. 
Instructions issued by the Secretary of State in January 1994,
require U.S.  officials to review records of prospective students for
all U.S.  schools to identify any past actions or affiliations
considered undesirable, such as criminal activity, human rights
abuses, or corruption.  According to School officials, all
prospective foreign students are subject to the same screening and
selection criteria and procedures, whether they will attend the
School or other U.S.  military training institutions. 
Virtually all of the students selected for the School of the Americas
have been members of their countries' military or police forces, with
less than one percent civilian students.  Officials at the School
said that even though courses intended for civilian participation are
offered, increasing civilian attendance is difficult for two reasons. 
First, government departments in many countries tend to be
understaffed, and it is difficult for key civilian officials to leave
their positions for several weeks to attend courses in the United
States.  Second, some foreign militaries and defense ministries
prefer to spend available military training funds on members of the
armed forces rather than civilians, despite encouragement from U.S. 
officials to select some civilians for relevant courses. 
Between 1990 and 1995, about 41 percent of the students were cadets\7
from Latin American military or police academies.  Cadet-level
courses are not new; they have been offered at the School as far back
as the 1950s.  According to School officials, instructing cadets is
consistent with the mission of the School, as these students
represent the next generation of military officers.  Also, some
countries have identified their military or police cadets\8 as a top
training priority.  Since 1991, Chile has sent cadets to the School
for an 8-day course specifically developed for them.  According to
School officials, Chile used a large proportion of its IMET funds for
this one course in 1995. 
\7 Cadets are typically in their early twenties and have completed
their second or third year of their national military or police
academies.  Their countries of origin have predominantly been Chile,
Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Honduras.  The cadets have
primarily been male, although some female cadets have attended the
\8 In Colombia, Honduras, and Chile, the national police are an arm
of the Ministry of Defense. 
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.3
Students from 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries have attended
courses at the School of the Americas since its inception.\9 However,
about half of those students have come from five countries--Colombia
(17 percent), El Salvador (12 percent), Nicaragua (8 percent), Peru
(7 percent), and Panama (6 percent).  The countries that send more
students to the School are generally the same countries receiving a
higher level of U.S.  military assistance, which can be used for
training.  For example, when the United States was providing large
amounts of foreign assistance, including training, to El Salvador's
military to counter the insurgent threat in the 1980s, about
one-third of the students at the School came from El Salvador. 
Between 1991 and 1995, most of the students at the School came from
Colombia, Honduras, and Chile. 
\9 U.S.  military members attend some courses at the School, with
1,557 attending since 1946.  In 1995,
19 U.S.  military personnel attended the command and general staff
officer course, and were principally foreign area officers or Spanish
language specialists expecting future tours of duty in Latin America. 
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5
The curriculum of the School has changed from its early days, when
automotive and radio repair, artillery mechanics, and cooking were
taught along with infantry, artillery, and military police courses. 
By the 1970s, the curriculum included courses on counterinsurgency
operations to train Latin American armed forces in their efforts to
confront insurgencies in the region.  The current curriculum
encompasses a variety of courses that enhance combat and combat
support skills, encourage the development of appropriate
civil-military relations, and strengthen defense resource management
Since 1990, the School has added nine new courses that reflect
current U.S.  interests in the region.  Two of the new
courses--democratic sustainment\10 and civil-military
operations--along with the existing resource management and command
and general staff officer courses--meet DOD's criteria for the
Expanded IMET program.\11
Other new courses were developed to meet unique or urgent needs in
the region.  For example, at the request of the Organization of
American States, the School developed a countermine course to train
students to recognize, detect, and neutralize minefields and to be
able to train demining teams in their countries.  Since 1993, 25
students from nine countries have taken the course, and DOD officials
told us that this training is currently being used in demining
operations in Central America.  According to DOD, the new Peace
Operations course was developed in response to the expanding presence
of peacekeeping operations around the world and to present U.S. 
doctrine and policy for peacekeeping to the Latin American forces. 
In 1995, 21 students, including 5 civilians, from nine countries
attended the course.  Other new training includes the executive and
field grade logistics, border observation, and computer literacy
courses as well as cadet-level intelligence and counterdrug courses. 
\10 First offered in 1996. 
\11 In 1990, Congress expanded the focus of the IMET program to
include training foreign civilian and military officials in managing
and administering military establishments and budgets, creating and
maintaining effective military judicial systems, and fostering
respect for civilian control of the military. 
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.1
In 1996, the School at Fort Benning is offering 32 courses, 23 of
which are targeted toward noncommissioned and junior to mid-level
officers.  The remaining nine courses are targeted toward
cadets--eight for military cadets and one for police cadets.  While
none of the courses are intended solely for civilians, 10 courses
include civilians in the targeted audience.  The Helicopter School
Battalion at Fort Rucker, Alabama, is offering
20 courses in helicopter flight operations and maintenance.  Table 1
provides a brief description of the courses offered in 1996 and the
number of students that attended these courses in 1995. 
                                     Table 1
                      School of the Americas 1996 Curriculum
                        and Fiscal Year 1995 Attendance by
                Durati      FY
                    on    1995
                (weeks  studen
Course title         )      ts      Brief course description
--------------  ------  ------  --  --------------------------------------------
Officer, NCO, and civilian courses
Battle staff         8       6      Battalion-and brigade-level staff planning
 operations                          and low-intensity conflict exercises
Border               3      \b      Joint border observation mission planning,
 observation\a                       information gathering, and area analysis
Civil-               5      13      Planning and conducting civil-military
 military                            operations, including civil defense,
 operations\a                        disaster relief, and proper role of the
                                     military in support of civilian authority
Combat arms         17       0      Study and planning of company-and battalion-
 officer                             level infantry tactics, including
 advanced                            mechanized, airborne, and special
Command and         47    19\c      University-and postgraduate-level combat
 general staff                       service support tactics and doctrine,
 officer\                            including strategic studies, military
                                     history, and joint operations
Commando             9      17      Combat and leadership training in difficult
                                     terrain and combat conditions, including
                                     demolition, patrolling, waterborne,
                                     airborne, and air assault operations
Computer             2       9      Familiarization with IBM-compatible
 literacy\a                          database, graphics, word processing, and
                                     spreadsheet software
Counterdrug         11      50      Field operations in planning, leading, and
 operations                          executing drug interdiction operations,
                                     including weapons, infiltration, and
                                     surveillance techniques; patrolling;
                                     demolition; and close-quarters combat
Countermine          4      10      Recognition, detection, and neutralization
 operations                          of minefields and booby trap areas
Democratic           6      \b      Theory and practice of military and civilian
 sustainment\a                       leadership in a constitutional democracy
Executive and        4     0\d      Army logistics functions, including
 field grade                         contracting, acquisition regulations,
 logistics\a                         material readiness, and inventory and
                                     financial management
Infantry            16      17      Basic military skills, including infantry
 officer basic                       tactics and principles, weapons, mortar
                                     employment, fire support, leadership, and
                                     internal defense and development
Instructor           2      31      Training for prospective instructors to
 training                            develop, prepare, present, and evaluate
                                     military instruction
Joint                4     0\e      Decision-making and planning for
 operations\a                        multinational and joint services operations
Medical              6      25      Life-saving measures, field medical care,
 assistance\a                        and civic medical services, including water
                                     purification, emergency childbirth, and
                                     minor surgical procedures
Military            10      24      Tactical and combat intelligence operations,
 intelligence                        counterintelligence, and enemy threat
 officer                             analysis
NCO training         5      17      Planning, execution, and evaluation of small
 management                          unit and individual training programs for
NCO                 11      15      NCO leadership training in weapons, training
 professional                        management, counterdrug operations,
 development                         infantry tactics, engineer operations, fire
                                     support, communications, and battle staff
Officer              5      26      Planning, execution, and administration of
 training                            small unit and individual training programs
 management                          for officers
Peace                5      21      Peace operation tactics, techniques, and
 operations\a                        procedures related to operations other than
                                     war, including civil affairs, psychological
                                     operations, rules of engagement, medicine,
                                     engineering, and logistics
Psychological        8      15      Psychological operations doctrine,
 operations\a                        techniques, planning, analysis, and
                                     research methodology
Resource             4      12      Resource management techniques, concepts,
 management\a                        and procedures, including quantitative
                                     decision-making, organizational dynamics,
                                     personnel management, and logistics
Sapper               8       9      Battlefield engineering, including
                                     demolition, minefield operations, obstacle
                                     placement, and breaching techniques
Cadet courses
Artillery            4       0      Basic artillery skills, including fire
                                     support, battery operations, and fire
Branch               8      43      Basic combat and leadership training and
 qualification                       branch-specific training (artillery,
                                     infantry/cavalry, combat engineer,
                                     logistics, or intelligence)
Cavalry              4       0      Introduction to basic cavalry tactics,
                                     including reconnaissance techniques,
                                     scouting operations, troop-leading
                                     procedures, and assault operations
Chilean cadet        1     162      Basic military training for Chilean cadets
Counterdrug          4      50      Introduction to tactics and techniques used
                                     in counterdrug operations
Engineer             4       0      Familiarization with engineer combat
                                     operations, equipment, construction, and
                                     maintenance management
Infantry             4       0      Introduction to light infantry tactics and
                                     principles, including weapons, land
                                     navigation, and air assault operations
Intelligence         4       0      Introduction to tactical and battlefield
                                     intelligence, including operations other
                                     than war, electronic warfare, enemy threat,
                                     internal defense and development, and
                                     counterinsurgency operations
Logistics            4      30      Unit management tasks, quartermaster
                                     functions, logistics, and supply management
Helicopter      Varied     124      Helicopter flight operations and maintenance
 school                              (20 courses)
Total                      745
\a Includes civilians in targeted students. 
\b First offered in 1996. 
\c Does not include the 19 U.S.  military personnel attending the
\d Sixteen students attended this course in the first quarter of
fiscal year 1996. 
\e Fifteen students attended this course in the first quarter of
fiscal year 1996. 
Source:  U.S.  Army School of the Americas. 
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.2
The School of the Americas' curriculum is based on U.S.  military
doctrine and practices and uses materials from courses presented to
U.S.  military personnel.  School officials told us that it is like
other U.S.  military institutions' curricula, except that it is
presented in Spanish.  For example, the military intelligence officer
course at the School uses doctrine and materials developed by the
U.S.  Army Intelligence Center and School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona,
and the executive logistics course uses material from the Defense
Logistics Command and the U.S.  Army Logistics Management College at
Fort Lee, Virginia.  Further, U.S.  military students who attend the
command and general staff officer course at the School receive the
same professional military education credit as the U.S.  military
personnel who attend the course at Fort Leavenworth. 
Officials at the School pointed out that because all international
training courses are based on U.S.  doctrine, foreign students from
other regions receive training in similar subjects as the students at
the School.  For example, in 1995, the U.S.  Army Ranger course was
provided to 43 foreign students from 17 countries, which exposed
those students to similar training and exercises as the 17 students
that attended the School's commando course.  Similarly, the Army's
infantry officer basic course was taught to 44 students from 21
countries, and similar training was provided to 17 students from
Latin America at the School.  (See app.  II.)
Instructional staff at the School can customize segments of the
courses to incorporate case studies and practical exercises relevant
to Latin America.  For example, officials at the School said that
civic action exercises conducted in Central America by U.S.  and
Latin American armed forces are discussed in the civil affairs
segment of the command and general staff officer course.\12
The course also includes 24 hours of instruction on the historical
perspective of the roles of the family, church, government, and
military in Latin America--instruction not included in the U.S. 
Reflecting the history of the region, School officials emphasized
that the School provides instruction on human rights principles to
all students.  This human rights instruction is not presented at any
other Army school.  All of the School's courses, except the computer
literacy course, include a mandatory 4-hour block of instruction on
human rights issues in military operations, including law of land
warfare, military law and ethics, civilian control of the military,
and democratization.  This instruction is expanded in some courses. 
For example, the command and general staff officer course devotes 3
days of instruction to the subject, and uses the My Lai massacre in
Vietnam as a case study.  School officials told us that they consider
this case study an excellent illustration of issues related to
professional military behavior, command and control, and changes in
U.S.  military attitudes and acceptance of the principles of human
rights.  They said that incidents in which Latin American militaries
have been involved, such as the El Mozote massacre of hundreds of
peasants in El Salvador in 1981, are also discussed. 
\12 These exercises have been conducted in several countries to
provide a realistic training environment for U.S.  armed forces and
to assist local populations improve their public facilities and
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6
Courses at the School are taught by U.S.  and Latin American military
members as well as some civilian instructors.  The School requires
that instructors possess the appropriate skills and military
background in such areas as logistics, infantry, engineering or
helicopter operations.  All instructors must also pass a special
human rights instructor program before teaching any course. 
Instructors from Latin America are involved with all of the courses
in the curriculum and work with U.S.  instructors to develop and
prepare instructional materials and teach segments of the courses. 
The School identifies the requirements for each foreign instructor
position, including rank; branch qualifications, such as combat arms
or airborne; and other prerequisites, such as graduation from a
command and general staff officer college.  The School sends these
requirements to the U.S.  embassies in Latin America to solicit
nominations of foreign military members that meet the requirements. 
Like the process used to nominate students, the foreign militaries
identify prospective instructors, who are subject to approval by U.S. 
officials at the embassies. 
Officials at the School said that the Latin American instructors have
become increasingly important over the past several years.  These
instructors provide additional opportunities for the students and
other instructors at the School to establish valuable military to
military contacts.  Salaries of the Latin American instructors are
paid by their home country. 
While the School's staff levels fluctuate throughout the year, as of
October 1995, a total of 239 staff were assigned to the School at
Fort Benning, including 50 U.S.  instructors and 33 instructors from
Latin America. 
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7
In 1995, TRADOC contracted for a study to analyze and develop
recommendations concerning the future need for the School of the
Americas and what purposes the School should serve.  The study
examined the issue of whether providing Spanish-language instruction
to Latin Americans is still a valid requirement of the School.  In
addition, the study examined the appropriateness of organizationally
placing the School under TRADOC, given the School's role as a foreign
policy tool and different focus compared to other TRADOC
The report, issued in October 1995, concluded that the School is
strategically important to the United States and supports short- and
long-term U.S.  economic, political, and military interests in Latin
America.  The report acknowledged that Spanish language instruction
was an important factor allowing the School to contribute effectively
to implementing U.S.  foreign policy in Latin America and said that
the Army should reaffirm Spanish as the language of instruction. 
However, it noted that concerns about the continued need for the
School in the post-Cold War period have surfaced, driven in part by
adverse publicity over human rights violations associated with past
students of the School. 
The study recommended that responsibility for the School be
transferred from TRADOC to the U.S.  Southern Command because the
School's role as a foreign policy tool makes it significantly
different from other TRADOC installations.  The study also
acknowledged that negative publicity about the School would probably
continue and that a new name for the School may be an appropriate way
to break with the past.  It suggested that the Department of Army
provide additional opportunities for lower- and mid-grade civil
servants from Latin America and make this an important thrust of the
School.  It also suggested that the Departments of Army and State
study the desirability of establishing a Western Hemisphere Center
for research, study, and instruction.  This center would incorporate
the School and other Spanish language military training schools and
would be affiliated with the Inter-American Defense College. 
DOD officials told us they agree in principle with many of the
recommendations in the study and are considering how best to
implement some of them.  For example, TRADOC has acted on the
recommendation to establish a board of visitors, which met for the
first time in May 1996, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense is
considering establishing a security studies center for the region. 
For some of the recommendations on which DOD has agreed in principle,
(1) the conditions prompting the recommendation have changed, (2) DOD
is not the cognizant authority for action, or (3) organizational or
legal hurdles impede action. 
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8
DOD officials have recognized that the dearth of civilian experts in
military and security affairs is a serious barrier to further
democratization of Latin American defense establishments.  In
response, DOD is pursuing plans to open an Inter-American Center for
Defense Studies in fiscal year 1998\13 to attract a new generation of
civilians to careers in ministries of defense and foreign affairs as
well as parliamentary committee staff.  The Center intends to provide
practical courses for promising civilians with university degrees,
although military officers may attend.  The curriculum would include
courses on the development of threat assessments, strategic plans,
budgets and acquisition plans, civil-military relations, and methods
of legislative oversight.  The Center would have features similar to
the already established DOD centers for the study of regional
security issues at the Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany, and at
the Asia-Pacific Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. 
The Center is not intended as a replacement or substitute for the
School of the Americas.  DOD officials contend that the School will
continue to provide important training and links to Latin American
militaries, which remain influential forces even as their roles in
their societies evolve from dominance to integration. 
\13 Five seminars will be offered as a pilot program in fiscal year
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :9
DOD concurred with our findings.  Where appropriate, we have
incorporated technical changes provided by DOD.  DOD's comments are
presented in appendix III. 
----------------------------------------------------------- Letter :10
We developed information on the political, military, and economic
characteristics in Latin America by talking to Latin American experts
from both inside and outside the federal government, reviewing
literature on the region, and using findings from other GAO reports. 
We discussed issues related to the School and the political, social,
and economic environment with representatives from the Organization
of American States, the Washington Office on Latin America,
Demilitarization for Democracy Project, Latin American Working Group,
North-South Center (affiliated with the University of Miami), Latin
American Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center, Institute for National
Strategic Studies, the Latin American Center of Stanford University,
and area experts at the University of California, Irvine; American
University; and the University of Colorado. 
To obtain information on the operations of the School of the
Americas, we met with officials at the School, including
instructional and administrative staff.  These officials provided us
with documentation on the history and current operations of the
School, including attendance, curriculum, and budget information.  We
performed a detailed review of course contents in order to understand
instructional objectives.  We also compared the course curriculum and
attendance at the school with the student attendance of Army security
assistance-funded training used by all other countries in the world. 
To develop the data on students attending the School, the courses
they took, and the countries they came from, we relied on
documentation provided by School officials.  To develop similar data
on the courses and students at other Army schools in fiscal 1995, we
relied on automated data prepared by TRADOC in Hampton, Virginia. 
We did not independently verify the accuracy of the data provided to
us.  We conducted our review from November 1995 to June 1996 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
--------------------------------------------------------- Letter :10.1
We plan no further distribution of this report until 15 days after
its issue date.  At that time, we will send copies of this report to
the Secretaries of Defense and State and appropriate congressional
committees.  We will also send copies to other interested parties
upon request. 
Please contact me at (202) 512-4128 if you or your staff have any
questions concerning this report.  Major contributors to this report
are listed in appendix IV. 
Sincerely yours,
Benjamin F.  Nelson, Director
International Affairs and Trade Issues
=========================================================== Appendix I
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:0.0.1
The U.S.  Army established the Latin America Center-Ground Division
in the Panama Canal Zone to provide instruction to U.S.  Army
personnel in garrison technical skills such as food preparation,
maintenance, and other support functions, with limited training for
Latin Americans. 
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:0.0.2
U.S.  Army renamed the institution the U.S.  Army Caribbean
School-Spanish Instruction and identified a secondary mission of
instructing Latin American military personnel. 
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:0.0.3
Increased Latin American interest in U.S.  military training led to
the elimination of English language instruction to focus on
instructing Latin American personnel. 
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:0.0.4
The institution became the U.S.  Army School of the Americas, with
Spanish declared the official language of the School. 
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:0.0.5
The School relocated to its current location at Fort Benning,
Georgia, due to a conflict between U.S.  and Panamanian officials
regarding the operation and command of the School.  The Army
reassigned operational control of the School from the U.S.  Southern
Command to the U.S.  Army Training and Doctrine Command. 
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:0.0.6
Under Public Law 100-180, Congress formally authorized the Secretary
of the Army to operate the School with the purpose of providing
military education and training to military personnel of Central
American, South American, and Caribbean countries. 
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:0.0.7
A Helicopter School Battalion at the U.S Army Aviation Center, Fort
Rucker, Alabama, was activated as part of the School to provide
Spanish language instruction for helicopter pilots and technicians. 
========================================================== Appendix II
                 Number                                         Number
                     of                                             of
Commando        student      Ranger                            student
course                s      course                                  s
--------------  -------  --  --------------------------------  -------
Bolivia               2      Canada                                 10
Colombia              8      Czech Republic                          3
Ecuador               4      Georgia                                 1
Mexico                3      Hungary                                 1
                             Italy                                   3
Total                17      Jordan                                  1
                             Lithuania                               1
                             Malawi                                  1
                             Mexico                                  2
                             Nepal                                   2
                             Philippines                             1
                             Poland                                  2
                             Singapore                               4
                             Slovenia                                1
                             Taiwan                                  3
                             Turkey                                  2
                             United Arab Emirates                    5
                             Total                                  43
                 Number                                         Number
                     of                                             of
Infantry        student                                        student
officer basic         s      Infantry officer basic course           s
--------------  -------  --  --------------------------------  -------
Colombia              8      Central African Republic                1
Ecuador               9      Colombia                                2
                             Egypt                                   3
Total                17      Guyana                                  1
                             Hungary                                 1
                             Jordan                                  1
                             Latvia                                  3
                             Lebanon                                 8
                             Maldives                                1
                             Malta                                   6
                             Niger                                   1
                             Papua New Guiena                        1
                             Saudi Arabia                            1
                             Singapore                               2
                             Slovenia                                1
                             Solomon Islands                         1
                             St Kitts and Nevis                      1
                             St. Lucia                               1
                             Taiwan                                  4
                             Thailand                                1
                             Untied Arab Emirates                    3
                             Total                                  44
Source:  U.S.  Army School of the Americas and U.S.  Army Training
and Doctrine Command. 
(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix III
========================================================== Appendix II
========================================================== Appendix IV
Nancy T.  Toolan
Muriel J.  Forster
Kevin C.  Handley
F.  James Shafer
Nancy Ragsdale
*** End of document. ***

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