Section 1206 and FMF: A Global View May 5, 2010Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
Tags: FMF, Section 1206
Counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations undertaken by the U.S. over the past decade have rapidly expanded the number of security assistance programs that focus on the problems of failed, failing, and fragile states.
DOD’s Global Train and Equip program (Section 1206) is one such program. It was established to address “urgent and emerging threats” by assisting foreign militaries with contributing to coalition operations or countering instability in their own neighborhoods. Currently, Section 1206 authority to train and equip has been used to provide counterterrorism equipment and related training to more than 20 countries worldwide.
Section 1206 is, however, at the heart of a larger security assistance debate as to the appropriate civilian-military balance with respect to our tools of foreign engagement. Traditionally, DOD has trained and equipped foreign nations through State Department programs, including Foreign Military Financing (FMF). FMF grants enable partner nations to improve their military capabilities and cultivate closer military relationships between the US and recipient nations. Section 1206 represents a break from that norm, as it is planned, funded, and implemented by DOD, although it does require Secretary of State “concurrence”.
Comparing Section 1206 and FMF is controversial. DOD views FMF as a long-term, alliance based assistance program and Section 1206 as a flexible, strategic tool to meet changing threats on the ground. Section 1206 supporters feel strongly that Combatant Commands (COCOMS) should generate the recommendations for Section 1206, as COCOMs plan and executive counterterrorism operations in the field. Reciprocally, they argue that FMF is a political tool, used to meet the ongoing, predictable security needs in allied countries as perceived by their governments.
Comparing Section 1206 and FMF is important, however, because the difference between FMF and Section 1206 is not always clear. Critics of Section 1206 note that the process has become longer-term and more institutional, making it more like FMF. Moreover, the equipment that has been provided is similar to that provided under FMF, prompting additional questions as to the “urgency” in some cases. Others question DOD’s ability and/or legitimacy in influencing foreign policy in this way because broader considerations may be missed from a military perspective.
The context of these debates differs in each of the world’s regions, making the debates themselves unique from one another. In an effort to further explore these issues, Budget Insight will be featuring regional snapshots in the upcoming weeks highlighting these accounts within a regional context.