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The Americas: A FMF and Section 1206 Comparison May 21, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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Each Friday for the next five weeks Budget Insight will be comparing State’s FMF program and DOD’s Section 1206 program within a regional context.  This week features the Western Hemisphere.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón visited Washington, DC this week and discussed, among other issues, gun control, the violence along the US-Mexican border, and immigration.  A cornerstone of the Calderón presidency has been combating organized crime and drug cartels in Mexico. The US has supported this effort and will continue to do so through additional security assistance for ongoing counternarcotics initiatives.

Traditional security assistance to the Americas is not new, ebbing and flowing as the US national security agenda has evolved.  Since the 1970s, major counternarcotics programs such as the Andean Counterdrug Program, Plan Colombia, and the Mérida Initiative have been a driving force behind training and equipping militaries in the region.

From 2006-2009, Latin America received 3 percent of global FMF funds (or $516 million) primarily in support counternarcotics efforts in Mexico and Colombia.  By comparison, the region received 7 percent (or $71 million) of global Section 1206 funds, mostly for maritime security efforts in the Caribbean Basin.

The majority of FMF allocations to the region are to individual countries, ranging from 5 to 25 countries depending on the year.  However, from FY2006-2009, 84 percent of total FMF funds to the region were allocated to Mexico and Colombia in support of counter drug programs, leaving $81 million or 16 percent for the remaining countries.

In contrast to FMF, most Section 1206 funds center on regional areas between countries, such as the Atlantic Coast, or along borders.  For example, in FY 2007, Congress provided $24.1 million for the Caribbean Basin Maritime Security which served the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Honduras Jamaica and Nicaragua.  Funds were divided between these countries for the purchase of interceptor boats, contract-provided boat crew training, among other items.

The terrorism threat in Latin America, however, is relatively small when compared with the threat of illicit trafficking or narcotics.  In fact, in FY 2008 Congress nearly denied more than $15 million in Section 1206 funding for Mexico and the Caribbean Basin on the grounds that existing foreign assistance authorities were more appropriate for addressing the threats in the region. Congress ended up approving the requests, citing improved military-to-military relations with Mexico and other recipient countries that would otherwise have little or no capacity to improve their capability to conduct counter-terrorism initiatives.

As a result, no Section 1206 funds were allocated or provided in the following fiscal year as FMF funding carried the region.

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