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US Assistance to Pakistan: $3 Bil for Security, $7.5 Bil for Economic Assistance April 7, 2009

Posted by Molly in Analysis, News.
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Pentagon officials announced plans last week to create a $500 million Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capability Fund that would be used to train and equip Pakistan security forces. This fund will likely be included in the supplemental appropriations request to be submitted to Congress this Thursday (April 9, 2009). House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman introduced a bill on Thursday (April 2, 2009) that would authorize $3 billion for this new train and equip program and would also dramatically increase US economic assistance to Pakistan to a total of $7.5 billion over 5 years. Currently, the bulk of U.S. assistance to Pakistan is military in nature, providing approximately $1 billion per year to reimburse Pakistan for its support in U.S. counter-terrorist operations. These proposals represent a major shift in strategy as outlined by President Obama two weeks ago.

However, the devil is in the details, and there are differences between the Pentagon’s plan and Chairman Berman’s. The most significant difference between the two proposals concerns authorities: should security assistance be managed through the State Department or through the Department of Defense?

The DOD proposal gives responsibility to the Pentagon and CENTCOM for consulting with Pakistan’s military and determining what equipment and training it most needed to fight insurgency. “It is a specific fund designed, again, to help the Pakistani forces develop specific capabilities — counterinsurgency capabilities,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, the leader of the Central Command, told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday. The Fund would pay for helicopters, night-vision goggles and other equipment, along with counterinsurgency training for Pakistan’s special operations forces and Frontier Corps paramilitary troops. US assistance to Pakistan has been primarily security-related in the past eight years.

pakistan-assistance-02-8Source: CRS Report for Congress, “US-Pakistan Relations,” 10 Nov 2008.

Military supporters of the program told the Washington Post that the proposal offers a speedier alternative to the traditional military assistance process overseen by the State Department, which critics say is slow to respond to the needs of a rapidly shifting counterinsurgency campaign. State Department assistance mechanisms have been criticized across accounts as being too slow and inflexible to effectively address evolving security threats and political landscapes. For example, according to a recent Washington Post article, of $400 million appropriated last year to fight drug trafficking in Mexico under the Merida Initiative, only $7 million has been spent – mostly on administration and planning.

While the Congress generally agrees on the need to support the Pakistani military in insurgency efforts, House leaders differ strongly on the role of the DOD. “This extends a pattern of militarizing foreign assistance,” Representative Howard L. Berman, a California Democrat who leads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Washington Post. Over the past eight years, the Defense Department has rapidly increased its foreign assistance activities, most notably in the areas of security assistance and stabilization and reconstruction. Collectively, the DOD has received over $50 billion for these new and expanded programs since 2001.

The congressional proposal authorizes $3 billion in aid between FY09 and FY13 to train and equip the Pakistani military over the next five years, with very explicit conditions for disbursal of assistance.

  • International Military Education and Training (IMET / E-IMET): $4 million, at least 30% must be allocated for counterinsurgency and civil-military relations training;
  • Foreign Military Financing (FMF): $500 million, at least 75% of which must be allocated to counterinsurgency and counterterrorism;
  • F-16: No more than $142 million for upgrades to F-16 fighter aircraft;
  • Drawdown authority (Section 506 of the Foreign Assistance Act): Up to $20 million.

According to the bill, the Secretary of State is required to concur with all funds appropriated for the Pakistan train and equip program.

The House bill would also triple U.S. economic assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year between FY09 and FY13 for a total of $7.5 billion over the five year period. These funds would be appropriated in a new Pakistan Democracy and Prosperity Fund, and would focus on strengthening democratic institutions, promoting economic development and improving Pakistan’s education system.

The proposed funds would signal a significant change in the focus on assistance, from a focus on security-related to economic-related activities:

pakistan-aid-averagepakistan-aid-proposed

The issue of State Department and Department of Defense authorities with regard to Pakistan is a reflection of the broadening role the DOD plays in foreign assistance. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been the backdrop for a shift of foreign policy authorities and funding from the State Department to the Department of Defense. The funding decision for assistance to Pakistan will either continue or reverse this trend.

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