|Subject: Pentagon Hopes to Expand Aid
The Washington Post
May 13, 2007
Pentagon Hopes to Expand Aid Program
Legislation Would Help Fund Foreign Governments' Military, Security Forces
Walter Pincus Washington Post Staff Writer
The Pentagon is seeking to make permanent and expand to other countries some security and foreign assistance programs underway in Iraq and Afghanistan that traditionally have been supervised by the State Department and the Agency for International Development.
Legislation sent to Capitol Hill -- under the title of Building Global Partnerships Act of 2007 -- would allow the secretary of defense, "with the concurrence of the secretary of state," to spend up to $750 million to help foreign governments build up not only their military forces, but also police and other "security forces" to "combat terrorism and enhance stability."
In a Jan. 25 memo for top Pentagon officials, Robert L. Wilkie, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, said the act would increase "speed and efficiency" in training and equipping other countries and would give the Pentagon greater ability to assist partners deployed "alongside or instead of U.S. forces." He called the act "the centerpiece of our legislative program in 2007."
The act is an outgrowth of the Section 1206 authority, which initially provided funds to the Pentagon, renewed annually, to train and equip military and police forces in Iraq and Afghanistan without State Department involvement. It was later broadened to allow for paying the costs -- with State Department agreement -- of coalition partners in Iraq, including Algeria, Chad, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Yemen, and Sao Tome and Principe.
Another Iraq initiative the Pentagon wants to expand is the Commander's Emergency Response Program, which remains under discussion with the State Department and is not in the Pentagon draft bill. Begun in Iraq in 2003 with cash seized from Saddam Hussein's government, CERP gives commanders money that they can spend on small construction projects such as rebuilding schools and roads. For fiscal 2008, the Pentagon is seeking $1 billion to fund the CERP program worldwide.
However, Congress approved authorization for an additional $500 million in the fiscal 2007 Iraq supplemental for combat commanders around the world to spend on foreign assistance within their regions of responsibility. That bill, which President Bush vetoed, is back before Congress, though the CERP funds are not an issue of debate.
Since 2002, the Defense Department has also provided $3.5 billion to countries such as Pakistan and Jordan as reimbursement for basing rights and other assistance for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The vetoed fiscal 2007 supplemental contained an additional $600 million for this program, and the fiscal 2008 request totals $1.7 billion.
On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee took a step in formalizing the Special Operations Command's activities abroad by writing into law its authority to undertake "counterinsurgency" and "information operations." In an April 23 interview with the national security blog IntelliBriefs, Maj. Gen. David P. Fridovich said the Special Operations approach includes providing "civil affairs assets to assist in humanitarian and civic assistance" and offering "information operations resources to aid the host nation in countering violent ideological threats."
The Pentagon's growing role in foreign assistance has drawn criticism. Last month, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) told a Council on Foreign Relations meeting that "we do not want uniformed military doing what others should be doing." He suggested that State Department funding should grow by 50 percent so ambassadors could lead such projects.
Last December, following an investigation directed by then-Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported that "as a result of inadequate funding for civilian programs . . . U.S. defense agencies are increasingly being granted authority and funding to fill perceived gaps" in public diplomacy and foreign economic assistance. The result "risks weakening the Secretary of State's primacy in setting the agenda for U.S. relations with foreign countries," the report said.
The committee also warned that "some foreign officials question what appears to be to them a new emphasis by the United States on military approaches to problems that are not seen as lending themselves to military solutions."
Gordon Adams, a former national security official at the Office of Management and Budget, said in congressional testimony in February that the process is gaining momentum. "The more we ask the Defense Department and the military to do, the more they become responsible for our overseas relationships," he said. He called Iraq and Afghanistan "a test bed for a new concept" in U.S. foreign aid.
Pentagon officials, however, have pushed such programs on Capitol Hill. In February testimony for the House Armed Services Committee, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for an interagency National Security Initiative Fund "to better invest in countering terrorism with other countries."
"We need a dramatic leap forward in our relationship with interagency and international partners," Pace said in prepared remarks. Terrorists sometimes "hide in countries with whom we are not at war," he said, adding that in many cases the best way to respond "is by augmenting the capacity of those countries to defeat terrorism and increase stability."
An unclassified briefing by Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, director for strategic plans and policy of the Joint Staff, said the fund -- which would be administered by the Defense and State departments -- was necessary because "beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. is underinvested in preventative strategies that build the capacity of foreign partners."
RIGHTS: Bill Shields Pentagon Aid Boost from Oversight
WASHINGTON, May 16 (IPS) - Newly proposed legislation would expand existing Pentagon security and military aid programmes in Iraq and Afghanistan to "coalition partners" in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The Building Global Partnerships Act of 2007 would authorise the secretary of defence, in consultation with the secretary of state, to allocate up to 750 million dollars to help foreign governments set up security and military forces to "combat terrorism and enhance stability".
The White House has submitted the bill to the House of Representatives and Senate but it has not been reviewed in committee or sent to the floor of either chambre for a vote.
The new legislation is an expansion of an existing programme that initially provided funds to the Pentagon to train security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and was renewed annually without State Department involvement.
State Department involvement in funding decisions was introduced when the programme expanded its reach to "coalition partners" in Algeria, Chad, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Yemen and Sao Tome Principe.
The Pentagon's ability to fund foreign aid programmes has in the past been contingent on compliance with the Foreign Assistance Act, which imposes restrictions on foreign aid recipients, including strict compliance with human rights standards.
"To ensure that commanders have adequate flexibility to meet operational needs, this section also would eliminate Foreign Assistance Act restrictions," the bill reads. "The joint approval process and advance congressional notification will ensure transparency and that respect for human rights and civilian authority remain a key component of programmes under this section without sacrificing flexibility critical to United States national security."
Last year, the Pentagon likely used a portion of its 200-million-dollar aid budget to provide military aid that may have been blocked had it not bypassed the Foreign Assistance Act, which insists on basic human rights standards to be observed by military units receiving U.S. aid.
"With Indonesia, the Pentagon has one foreign policy and the U.S. has another foreign policy," Ivan Eland, director of the Centre on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute, told IPS.
The Foreign Assistance Act has limited the allocation of military and security aid to Indonesia out of concern for the human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian military in East Timor.
"Section 1206 was intended to be a pilot programme. They were supposed to report back to congress about what happened but they have an extension until next January," George Vickers, senior policy analyst at the Open Society Policy Centre, told IPS. "There's been no reporting on if the pilot programme has worked so it's premature to be making it permanent and expanding its scope and authority."
Human rights advocates have expressed concern that the new legislation represents a structural shift that would allow the Pentagon greater leeway in setting foreign policy and permit it nearly complete protection from Congressional oversight.
"We are very concerned that this is another way the Pentagon is encroaching on territory traditionally occupied by the State Department," Scott Stedjan, legislative secretary at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, told IPS. "We're afraid this Pentagon programme will bypass the Foreign Assistance Act, and specifically the human rights component."
The new legislation would create more oversight than previous aid budgets allocated to the Pentagon because it would require State Department approval for allocation of funds, but the considerable increase in budget and its continued avoidance of congressional oversight is believed by many to give the Pentagon unprecedented leeway to distribute security and military aid with few restrictions.
Pentagon leadership would be able to more easily coordinate their military and security aid allocations with areas of interest in the "war on terror" without the congressional oversight and limitations of the Foreign Assistance Act, which have specifically limited the Pentagon's discretionary aid allocations in various African countries.
"(The Building Global Partnerships Act) will have an impact in Latin America but the area they're most interested in is Africa," said Vickers. "Sub-Saharan Africa, Somalia and Ethiopia are areas where they'd like to be able to do more to build the capacities for local forces. The way they've proposed it would allow them to make proxy armies."
The Pentagon's desires to set its own foreign aid policy independent of the state department and Congress has led a number of analysts to question the consequences of a Pentagon-led foreign aid policy with little or few restrictions.
"If you're giving aid to undesirable countries, by human rights standards, it usually backfires on you," said Eland. "It may provide short term benefits in the 'war on terror', but the long-term consequences may be unclear." (END/2007)