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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trainee data, charted

Here are the countries of origin of U.S. military and police trainees from Latin America and the Caribbean since 1999, according to the past 13 years’ State-Defense Department Foreign Military Training Reports.

The table for this data is here.

As is evident, Colombia continues to contribute the most trainees. Training appears to have declined somewhat lately; this may be due to reduced U.S. resources, but it may just be the result of incomplete reporting of the training that occurs. The recently released 2011 Foreign Military Training Report, for instance, comprises three volumes, two of which are classified.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Military and police training in Latin America, 2009

After a long delay, the Department of State released the Foreign Military Training Report (FMTR) for 2009. The report is a joint report by the Department of Defense and the Department of State and is due by March 1 of every year. The report covering 2010, therefore, is recently overdue.

Volume I of the FMTR is very useful to our project. We use the information presented in these reports to track the total number of United States training recipients in the region via different assistance programs. The report also provides us with the information necessary to keep track of courses, training locations, recipient units, and how much money the United States spent on each training program/course. Since the State Department released its 2008 and 2009 reports within a span of a couple of weeks this year, our previously out-of-date training database now covers U.S. training in Latin America from 1999 to 2009.

A look at the new training statistics shows an increase from 2008 to 2009 in the number of Latin American military and police personnel trained. After declining from 2007 to 2008, training appears to be going back up to around average, with 15,423 military and police personnel trained in 2009.

This increase, however, owes entirely to training information received not from the 2009 FMTR, but a report about the status of aid deliveries to Mexico that we received from Republican staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee [PDF]. As Adam Isacson pointed out in a recent blog, a side-by-side comparison of the 2009 FMTR data for Mexico and the Senate report shows a massive discrepancy in the total number of Mexican military and police personnel trained by the United States in 2009. The Senate report shows 4,933 Mexican personnel trained by the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INLCE) program in 2009, while the FMTR shows 5 trained by that same program.

Therefore, if we only use the data provided by the 2009 FMTR, the total number of Latin American trainees actually continues the downward trend that started in 2008, with only 10,495 military and police personnel trained in 2009. As Adam pointed out in his blog on the 2008 FMTR data, the decline in training from 2007 to 2008 was prompted by "a sharp reduction in training of personnel from Colombia," as the United States began to wind down the large-scale military assistance programs of the 2000s.

Adam also noted that the 2008 data did not "register what is likely the most important change: the effect of sharply increased military and police aid to Mexico and Central America under the Mérida Initiative, which was barely underway in 2008." The 2009 training data, thanks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee report, shows that this Mérida Initiative effect is in full-force in Mexico. From 2008 to 2009, the number of Mexican military and police personnel trained by the United States increased from 1,074 to 5,724. That's a 728% increase over the average number of personnel from Mexico trained between 1999 and 2007.

Most of the Mérida Initiative training comes out of the State Department's INCLE program, which increased substantially in 2009 (from 707 trainees in 2008 to 5,732 in 2009), making 2009 an all-time high for the number of Latin American personnel trained by that program. Of the 5,732 personnel trained by INCLE in 2009, 4,933 were from Mexico. The majority of which (4,892) were Federal Police trained by the Narcotics Affairs Section. In 2003, the second-highest year since 1999, only 1,713 Latin American personnel were trained by INCLE, of which only 55 were from Mexico.

The Mérida effect, however, does not appear to have taken hold in Central America, at least according to the data that is currently available to us. Instead, the number of personnel from Central America trained declined 32% from 2008 (3,381) to 2009 (2,286). The countries that experienced the largest decreases in training were Nicaragua (549 to 112) and Honduras (805 to 411).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

4,933 trainees from Mexico? Or 5?

How many Mexican military and police personnel did the United States train in 2009? The answer varies very widely, depending on which official U.S. government source you consult.

Last May, a report from Republican staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee [PDF] reproduced an entire State Department document about the status of aid deliveries to Mexico. This document showed that the U.S. Embassy’s Narcotics Affairs Section alone, spending funds from the State Department’s International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) program, trained 4,933 Mexican personnel in 2009.

Table from State Department doc

But then last month the State Department produced its annual Foreign Military Training Report for 2009. In this report, required by Section 656 of the Foreign Assistance Act, the State Department must provide a full accounting of all foreign personnel trained in the past year.

The 4,933 Mexicans don’t appear in this report.

Instead, it shows only 5 Mexican personnel trained by the INCLE program, and 709 overall.

Table from FMTR

This massive discrepancy calls into question the reliability of State Department reporting, and whether congressional oversight personnel are getting the information that they requested when they put the Foreign Military Training Report into law.

It also calls into question the accuracy of the training data that we present on this website, since we rely heavily on this report. We’re left wondering what else we’re missing. Even as we await data for 2010 (the report for last year is now overdue, as the law requires State to submit it to Congress every January 31), we certainly can't say with confidence how many Mexicans received U.S. training in 2009.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Military and police training in Latin America, 1999-2008

After an inexcusably long delay, the Department of State last week released the Foreign Military Training Report (FMTR) for 2008. Added to U.S. law in 1999 and due on March 1 of each year, the FMTR is by far the best source of information about U.S. training of foreign military and police forces. Information from the FMTR forms the core of the Training section of the Just the Facts project database.

The report released last week was due almost two years ago, in March 2009. The report covering 2009, due in March 2010, is also very late, though officials assure us that its release is weeks away.

Because this newly available information is so old, it doesn’t reflect recent trends in training of Western Hemisphere security forces. In particular, it doesn’t register what is likely the most important change: the effect of sharply increased military and police aid to Mexico and Central America under the Mérida Initiative, which was barely underway in 2008.

Still, a look at the training statistics over time shows that 2008 was a year of decline. The 11,677 Latin American and Caribbean military and police personnel trained that year represented the second-lowest total measured since the FMTR began publication in 1999.


(To see the numbers underlying these graphics, view our tables of trainees by country and by aid program.)

The 2008 drop, however, owes entirely to a sharp reduction in training of personnel from Colombia, as the large-scale military assistance programs of the 2000s began the decline that continues today. Taking away Colombia reveals the number of trainees in the rest of the region – 9,700 in 2008 – to have been near the highest levels the report has shown.

With the drop in Colombian trainees came a drop in trainees funded by the Defense Department’s counter-narcotics budget. This account, known as “Section 1004,” has paid for the training of more Latin American personnel than any other U.S. aid program in the past decade. However, the Defense Department’s budget still pays for far more training than the State Department-managed foreign assistance budget. Of the programs that fund training of Latin American personnel, two of the top three, and four of the top eight, are paid for and managed by the Pentagon

Now that we have ten years of data to analyze, we can identify which countries have developed a tighter training relationship with the U.S. military, and which have grown more distant. Comparing averages of trainees in 1999-2001 and 2006-2008 yields the following results.

Of the five countries that are receiving proportionally more U.S. training, three are in Central America. Brazil appears because a large number of students educated by the Defense Department’s Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in 2007 – many of whom were likely civilians – lifted the three-year average.

Panama +543.6% from 1999-2001 to 2006-08
Guatemala +286.3%
Bahamas +254.3%
Nicaragua +220.7%
Brazil +158.4%

The list of countries receiving proportionally less U.S. training than a decade ago is not surprising. Of the “bottom 5,” the bulk of the decline in trainees comes from Venezuela and Bolivia, two “Boliviarian” countries whose relations with the United States are poor.

Venezuela -97.8% from 1999-2001 to 2006-08
Bolivia -84.2%
Suriname -72.6%
Costa Rica -72.5%
Trinidad and Tobago -66.0%

The FMTR includes a good deal of detail, including the courses given, the military units to which trainees belonged, and the location of the training. We’re still entering this data into our database, but in a week or so you should be able to view and search data for 2008. For instance, information about what countries sent students to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation will be updated through 2008. (If you click on this link and get a strange response, refresh the page and it should work. The training database is large and can be tough on our servers.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2007 Foreign Military Training Report shows significant increase in training recipients

Over the weekend, the State Department uploaded the long-overdue Foreign Military Training and DoD Engagement Activities of Interest for FY 2007 and 2008 report to its website. This document was supposedly released in January 2008, but it took a year and a half and a lot of pestering to get it posted to the website.

This Foreign Military Training Report is a joint report by the Department of Defense and the Department of State and is required by two laws: the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act (P.L. 110-161).

The first volume, which is submitted in an unclassified format, "provides the operational benefits to U.S. forces for these training and education programs and engagement activities; a description of each type of activity; a summary of all training provided along with the foreign policy justification for each country; country activity training lists; and explanations of the purpose for each training activity."

Volume I of the Foreign Military Training Report is very useful to our project. We use the information presented in these reports to track the total number of United States training recipients in the region via different assistance programs. The report also provides us with the information necessary to keep track of courses, training locations, recipient units, and how much money the United States spent on each training program/course. As of now, the Just the Facts training database only reflects the number of training recipients for 2007, however we will soon have the rest of the details up-to-date. When it is, you can find it in the Training section of the Just the Facts database.

The information we have gathered from the 2007 Foreign Military Training Report indicates a substantial increase in the number of U.S. training recipients from the previous years. In 2007, the United States trained 25,836 students from Latin America and the Caribbean, in comparison to 13,426 students according to the 2006 report (see our database for a country-by-country breakdown of training). This increase in training recipients can be seen throughout the region, however Colombia, Peru, and Brazil represent the most substantial increases in trainees between 2006 and 2007, with 6,731, 2,069, and 1,111 additional students, respectively.

Of all of the programs that provide training in the region, the Section 1004 Counter-Drug Assistance program represented the most significant increase in 2007, with 14,803 students (12,603 of whom are from Colombia). Perhaps because of a change in reporting of students, the report registers a large increase in attendance at the Defense Department's Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, which offers courses to both civilians and military personnel from the region.

Below are two trend graphs, showing the total numbers of trainees from 1999-2007. The first shows this trend by country, and the second by program, in order to give an idea of which countries receive the most training and which programs provide that training.