| Types of FMI | Other sites
U.S. military relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean
goes well beyond security assistance programs, exercises
and deployments. The Defense Department carries
out a large number of other initiatives whose primary goal is to
maintain military-to-military contact with the region. These "foreign
military interaction" (or "FMI") initiatives range
from formal mechanisms like exchange programs and confidence-building
measures to the informal contact that occurs during receptions,
meetings and even telephone conversations.
defense agencies -- in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly
the U.S. Southern Command (Southcom) – assert
that foreign military interaction is necessary for several reasons.
Maintaining regular contact, they contend, is essential for confidence-building
and exchanges of information relevant to regional security. Knowledge
of how other militaries "work" -- procedures, capabilities,
command and control -- is regarded as important for future cooperation.
The U.S. military seeks the interpersonal relationships that FMI
programs build with foreign officers; friendships and acquaintances
with top officers, the argument goes, can increase "access"
to the region's militaries, making them more likely allies in future
conflicts, more amenable to U.S. foreign policy concerns, and more
inclined to "internalize" U.S. values regarding human
rights and civil-military relations in a democracy.
manages most military-to-military contacts within its area of responsibility
(all of Latin America and the Caribbean except Mexico). The command
places a high priority on foreign military interaction programs,
which it sees as fulfilling a strategy of "cooperative regional
caution that FMI programs must undergo greater oversight and scrutiny
from civilian leaders, in order to avoid the development of a "parallel
foreign policy" that values military objectives over political
goals. Some also express concern about the tacit message of U.S.
"approval" that these activities might convey when they
involve militaries with poor human rights records or undemocratic
many FMI initiatives are too informal or ephemeral to document,
several permanent programs exist and merit some description. The
following list, which is not comprehensive, documents the military-to-military
contact activities that this study has encountered.
personnel | Exchange
programs | Office
of the Secretary of Defense | Joint
Chiefs of Staff | U.S.
Army | U.S.
Navy | U.S. Air
Force | International
Organizations | Other
that pay for FMI
Attaché Offices (DAOs)
attachés are Defense Department personnel assigned to U.S. embassies;
in most cases, they do not perform security-assistance functions.
DAO duties include "overt gathering of military information,
representing the U.S. Department of Defense in the conduct of
military liaison activities, and performing as a component of
the U.S. country team." All of these functions, particularly
the first two, call for a very close relationship with host-country
Assistance Organizations (SAOs)
Assistance Organizations (SAOs) are Defense Department personnel
stationed, like DAOs, in U.S. embassies throughout the region.
SAO members play a key role in military-to-military contact, as
their management of security-assistance programs requires them
to cultivate relationships with host-country military officers
through regular visits, meetings, and other activities.
between U.S. and foreign military personnel are governed by section
544 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (P.L. 87-195, or the "FAA"),
as amended. Section 544 specifies that exchanges must take place
on a one-to-one basis, at comparable institutions, and at no cost
to the United States.
Exchange Program (PEP)
Personnel Exchange Program is defined as "a reciprocal exchange
of personnel between a U.S. military service and a counterpart
unit in another nation's military service."2
Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEE)
Matter Expert Exchanges are short visits by three or four U.S.
military experts who exchange information with host-nation counterparts
on a mutually-agreed topic. Topics may include "personnel,
intelligence, operations, logistics, civil affairs, information
processing, and others that may be of interest." Usually,
both countries' subject-matter experts brief each other on their
methods and procedures for dealing with the topic.3
of Other Nations (SON) Program
officers participating in the Schools of Other Nations program
attend a foreign military school and get credit for courses attended.
Area Officer (FAO) Program
Foreign Area Officer program is an "immersion" training
program. Participating officers must speak the local language,
have a graduate degree, and have lived in the area for one or
two years. The FAO attends schools in the country without receiving
of the Secretary of Defense
first meeting of the hemisphere's defense ministers took place in
1995 at Williamsburg, Virginia, at the initiative of Secretary of
Defense William Perry. Subsequent Defense Ministerials were held
in 1996 at Bariloche, Argentina, and in 1998 at Cartagena, Colombia.
A U.S. defense official described Washington's objectives for the
The specific U.S. objectives for DMA-III
[the third Defense Ministerial of the Americas] are to demonstrate
our commitment to regional cooperation on defense and security
matters, and to the continuation of the DMA process; to strengthen
and consolidate the leadership of defense and security policy
in the hands of democratically elected officials; to deepen the
dialogue among the civilian and military leaders on defense and
security issues common to the hemisphere; and lastly, to promote
transparency, confidence, and security building mechanisms and
increase defense cooperation in areas such as peacekeeping, humanitarian
disaster relief, and combatting terrorism, and advocate appropriate
defense support for law enforcement and counternarcotics and other
national security topics.4
Secretaries of Defense and their staffs maintain regular contacts
with counterparts in foreign civilian defense ministries. Their
meetings are usually accompanied by a "military cooperation
committee," in which military officers from both countries
meet separately. Bilateral working groups have been established
with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.5
Chiefs of Staff
of the U.S. Joint Staff hold annual bilateral consultations with
counterparts from Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Participants in
these formal meetings share information about structures and activities.
The talks, largely regarded as confidence and security-building
measures, are normally accompanied by a good deal of informal
Mexico-U.S. Defense Commission (JMUSDC)
staffed by representatives of the Joint Staffs of the United States
and Mexico, has been largely inactive for years. It may soon be
revived, as military-to-military contact with Mexico is now in
a period of rapid growth.
of American Armies
in 1960, the Conference of American Armies is a biennial meeting
of leaders of the hemisphere's armies. The conference has seven
specialized sub-conferences, including a Training and Military
Education Conference. Technical meetings usually occur between
the formal meetings.
Army War College Peacekeeping Round Table
discussion of peacekeeping attended by representatives of the
armies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay and the United
Army Staff Talks
discussions are usually held annually.
Naval Conference (IANC)
conference, similar to the Conference of American Armies, meets
biennially and has seven specialized supporting conferences.
Seapower Symposium (ISS)
International Seapower Symposium is hosted by the U.S. Navy and
attended by 70 states worldwide, including 18 states from the
of Cooperation Among American Air Forces (SICOFAA)
SICOFAA hosts an annual Conference of the Chiefs of the American
Air Forces (CONJEFAMER), attended by 18 member states from the
hemisphere. It has a Permanent Secretariat and nine functional
Code of Military Justice
three-year effort involving thirteen countries, led by U.S. Air
Force lawyers, drew up a non-binding Model Code of Military Justice
for the Americas. The code, which began as part of the Air Force's
ongoing program of military justice Subject Matter Expert Exchanges
(SMEEs), was signed in June 1998 at a ceremony at Davis-Monthan
Air Force Base in Arizona.6
bodies discussed in this category are not coordinated by the U.S.
government. They are internationally-managed forums for FMI in which
U.S. military representatives participate.
Defense Board (IADB)
in 1942, the Inter-American Defense Board is a security body within
the Organization of American States (OAS). It has four major components:
the Council of Delegates, the Staff, the Secretariat, and the
Inter-American Defense College.
Council of Delegates advises the OAS in military matters and serves
as "an organ of planning and preparation for the defense
and security of the American Continent."7
The Staff performs planning and advisory functions. The Secretariat
performs administrative and support functions.
Defense College (IADC)
Inter-American Defense College offers military officers and civilians
with defense responsibilities a one-year post-graduate curriculum.
Each student researches and publishes a monograph on a hemispheric
defense issue. The IADC hosts symposia and conferences, as well
as organizing visits to hemispheric defense institutions throughout
Island Nations Security Conference (CINSEC)
is an annual meeting attended by representatives from Antigua
and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic,
Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent
and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States.
Canada attends as an observer.
U.S. military frequently invites officers or small groups from
foreign countries to observe an exercise or operation to become
familiar with U.S. methods, procedures and equipment.
1996 Strategic Assessment published by the National Defense
University's Institute for National Strategic Studies coins a
term, "defense diplomacy," to describe the wide variety
of high-level professional contacts and policy-related outreach
activities the U.S. Defense Department conducts with defense establishments
Strategic Assessment divides "defense diplomacy"
into five rough categories:
contacts: official visits overseas, counterpart visits
to the United States, defense ministerial meetings, bilateral-security
working groups, contact with the Washington diplomatic corps,
and personal associations with senior foreign leaders that mature
One of the most frequent visitors is the Commander-in-Chief
(CINC) of the U.S. Southern Command. The current CINC, Gen.
Charles Wilhelm, said in March 1999, "In
the last 12 months I have made 33 trips to the region during
which I have made 60 individual country visits."9
talks: bilateral Joint Staff talks, multinational service
conferences, and both joint and service expert exchange opportunities
(relating to subjects such as military law, simulations, and
professional expertise: OSD [Office of the Secretary
of Defense] briefing (teaching) teams from such staff offices
as Program Analysis and Evaluation, the Emergency Planning Directorate,
and the Defense Intelligence Agency; the U.S.-U.K. Kermit Roosevelt
exchange military lecture series; NDU's [the National Defense
University's] collaboration with the Inter-American Defense
College; and various DOD outreach programs.
an understanding of defense issues and requirements among civilian
defense officials: foreign attendance of courses in
service and defense education systems for DOD's civilian professionals;
meetings between visiting government and legislative officials
and DOD's civilian functional area experts; and short workshops
in Washington designed to address this need.
support of policy: formal affiliation with sister institutions
for military education; counterpart exchange visits by directors
of military colleges and universities; roundtable discussions
and workshops to share ideas with visiting civilian and military
dignitaries, academics, and journalists on topics of their interest;
and the distribution of magazines, reports, and other professional
literature published by service and defense academic and research
institutions--ideally material published in foreign languages."10
that pay for FMI programs
Staff and armed-service funds for operations and maintenance pay
for many FMI activities. Some accounts, however, are specifically
designed for this purpose.
Initiative Fund (CIF)
CINC Activities (TCA)
American Cooperation Funds
Commander-in-Chief (CINC) of Southcom is given a certain amount
of money each year to pay for FMI and training activities. The
chiefs of the Army, Navy, and Air Force have "Latin American
cooperation funds" for similar activities.
CINC Initiative Fund is governed by section 166a of Title 10,
U.S. Code. It authorizes the use of this account for the following
training (activities whose primary purpose is to train U.S.
exercises (including activities of participating foreign countries);
and civic assistance;
education and training to military and related civilian personnel
of foreign countries (including transportation, translation,
and administrative expenses); and
expenses of defense personnel for bilateral or regional cooperation
limitations on the fund's use include the following:
more than $7 million may be used to buy items whose individual
unit cost exceeds $15,000;
more than $1 million can pay for expenses of foreign countries
participating in joint exercises;
more than $2 million can pay for military education and training;
may not be provided for an activity that has been denied congressional
Defense Department Appropriation law for 2000 sets a $25 million
limit for the CINC initiative fund account worldwide.
to the General Accounting Office, the Traditional CINC Activities
(TCA) category allows commanders-in-chief to "fund military-to-military
contacts with foreign nations for such activities as seminars,
conferences, and educational exchanges of civilian and military
1050 of Title 10, U.S. Code authorizes Latin American cooperation
funds, allowing the secretary of an armed service to "pay
the travel, subsistence, and special compensation of officers
and students of Latin American countries and other expenses that
the Secretary considers necessary for Latin American cooperation."
and co-op funds usually pay for travel, per diems, lodging, and
"representational expenses" (small gifts, meals and
social functions) associated with military-to-military contact
programs. In Latin America and the Caribbean, these funds also
pay for Familiarization Visits
and Subject Matter Expert Exchanges. As
it may be used for contingencies and humanitarian and civic assistance,
the CIF was employed to support aid efforts in the immediate aftermath
of Hurricane Mitch in Central America
in late 1998.
United States, Department of Defense, Defense Institute of Security
Assistance Management, The Management of Security Assistance,
17th ed. (Wright-Patterson AFB, OH: May 1997): 722.
United States, Mission to the Organization of American States, "Note
From the Permanent Mission of the United States of America Forwarding
an Inventory of Confidence- and Security-Building Measures,"
I Regional Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures
in the Region, Santiago, Chile, November 8-10, 1995, Document no.
Mission to the Organization of American States 10.
Defense Official, “Secretary of Defense Trip to Colombia,” Background
Briefing (Colombia: November 25, 1998) <http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov1998/x11301998_x1125col.html>.
Lt. Amie Mize, “New code sets right tone for military justice throughout
the Americas,” Air Force News Service June 30, 1998 <http://www.af.mil/news/Jun1998/n19980629_980953.html>.
Inter-American Defense Board, Organization of American States, April
Inter-American Defense Board.
States, U.S. Southern Command, “Posture Statement Of General Charles
E. Wilhelm, United States Marine Corps Commander In Chief, United
States Southern Command Before The Senate Armed Services Committee,”
March 4, 1999.
United States, Department of Defense,
National Defense University, "Chapter nine: Defense Engagement
in Peacetime," Strategic Assessment 1996: Elements of U.S.
Power, 1996, April 1998 <http://www.ndu.edu/ndu/inss/sa96/sa96ch09.html>.
United States, General Accounting Office, Military Training: Management
and Oversight of Joint Combined Exchange Training, document number
GAO/NSIAD-99-173, (Washington, DC: GAO, July 1999) 21 <http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/useftp.cgi?IPaddress=188.8.131.52&filename=ns99173.txt&directory=/diskb/wais/data/gao>.
Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) version <http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/useftp.cgi?IPaddress=184.108.40.206&filename=ns99173.pdf&directory=/diskb/wais/data/gao>.