The Creation of Expanded International Military Education and Training (E-IMET)

Article excerpt

[This is an article developed from an original paper written at the National War College in 2008.]

The advent of the Cold War's demise and changes to the international security structure in the late 1980s-early 1990s sparked an initiative to make available new professional military education opportunities under the auspices of Security Assistance, a group of foreign aid programs that support U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives. One of the most successful of these programs, International Military Education and Training (IMET), was seen as an ideal medium from which to generate a new curriculum designed to advance democratic principles and reach a broader pool of international participants.

The new initiative, Expanded International Military Education and Training (E-IMET), was established by Congress in 1990 and provided for specific non-combat related military education and training "based upon the premise that active promotion of democratic values is one of the most effective means available for achieving U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives and fostering peaceful relationships among the nations of the world." (1) In addition, E-IMET opened up these courses to civilian officials involved in security matters in their countries, including representatives from non-governmental organizations and legislators.

Background: Why the Need for a New Program?

IMET was created as a grant program by Congress, under the International Security Assistance Act of 1976, which was an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Its purpose was:

 
   to help countries unable to purchase U.S. military training under 
   the Foreign Military Sales Act (the existing program at the time) 
   to meet their needs. Congress wished to help allies and friendly 
   countries pursue their interests with an initiative that was 
   practical, economical, and focused on the future. It saw military 
   training as the most effective vehicle within the former grant 
   military assistance program and wanted to sustain it without losing 
   legislative control. Senior Defense officials at the time endorsed 
   the new program as a better way to identify budgetary costs and 
   program objectives, while still providing a means of maintaining 
   military ties and strengthening the military potential of our 
   friends and allies. (2) 

IMET enabled recipient countries to send applicable military personnel to a variety of courses provided by the U.S. military departments (2,000 courses offered annually at 150 U.S. military schools across the country).

Funding for IMET (and other Security Assistance programs) is appropriated from the International Affairs budget of the Department of State (DOS). DoS maintains overall responsibility of IMET, and the DoD administers it. The objectives of IMET-funded training are to develop rapport, understanding, and communication links; to develop participant nations' training self-sufficiency and improve their ability to manage their own defense establishments; and to develop skills to operate and maintain U.S.-origin equipment. (3)

In 1990, staff members from the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) came up with the idea to build on IMET's successes and pursue a "higher calling" to force an agenda promoting democratic values. (4) The countries that could benefit the most fell into two categories: existing IMET recipients that needed to strengthen their human rights records and fight corruption (e.g., Guatemala and Indonesia) and nations that had no real experience with such democratic principles as transparent defense budgets, military justice, and civil-military relations (e.g., Honduras and South Africa). (5) Thus, the idea for a revised IMET program was born, one that would focus on the pillars of a democracy and offer only non-combat-related education and training--Expanded IMET. …