Ten Years Later: An Organization Entitled Defense Institute of International Legal Studies Evolves. (Education and Training)

By Munroe, Walter | DISAM Journal, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Ten Years Later: An Organization Entitled Defense Institute of International Legal Studies Evolves. (Education and Training)


Munroe, Walter, DISAM Journal


The Defense Institute of International Legal Studies (DIILS) in Newport, Rhode Island is a joint agency activity reporting directly to the Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Originally a part of the Naval Justice School, DIILS has become a major part of the Expanded International Military Education and Training Program. DIILS focuses on legal topics relating to the rule of law through mobile education teams and resident courses. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award to DIILS in August 2001. DIILS marked its tenth anniversary on June 28th.

If numbers alone could tell the story of the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies (DIILS), an impressive set of statistics could be compiled:

* 530 programs completed

* 83 countries have participated on five continents

* More than 16,000 total participants

* Several Vice Presidents, assorted ministers of state, numerous generals and admirals, and thousands of military members, and civilians in attendance

* A staff that has grown from one to seventeen

* 17,000 texts printed

* 1000+ adjunct faculty members

* Approximately twenty million air miles flown

* Thousands of hours waiting in airports and flying coach

* 20,000 + bags of airline peanuts devoured

* Two cases of malaria contracted

Yet, the weakness of numbers is that they do not convey the effort or effects of a program, and the extraordinary energy that has made DIILS a successful organization.

The concept of extending assistance for military training by one country to another country is nothing new. In America, the Revolutionary Army gratefully accepted the training offered by Baron von Steuben of Prussia and other individuals as well as the country of France. As the United States became a power in the 20th century, training was offered to other countries. President Truman stated in 1947:

I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures.

Training of this type has often been controversial, as it usually emphasized war-fighting skills with little regard for establishing the thinking that is so crucial to the proper application of force. Civilian oversight was often lacking, misuse of the training to abuse human rights occurred too often, and friendly recipient nations turned unfriendly. Throughout the Cold War, the need to influence other nations created a policy conundrum between the necessity of maintaining friends and alliances and the wise and moral use of U.S. resources. The fall of the Soviet Union ended this dilemma.

DIILS was created in response to legislative initiatives to amend the Foreign Assistance Act by expanding international training opportunities offered as part of the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. The United States sought a way to foster democratic institutions in the countries emerging from the Soviet Union as well as those countries formerly under the dominance of the Soviet Union. Four areas were identified as crucial to the democratic transition of the military in these countries: civilian control of the military, military justice, human rights, and defense resource management. Training would not only be conducted in the United States as it traditionally had been done, but also through teams that would travel to the countries that requested such training. Civilian officials were now also eligible to take part in this training. The inclusion of civilians in this training was an acknowledgement that those who shape the role of the military must also be reached. The passage of this legislation, referred to as Expanded International Military Education and Training (E-IMET), occurred in 1990.

The subject matter emphasized by E-IMET was different from traditional military training in that the philosophy, legal underpinnings, and doctrine that makes a military effective would be emphasized. …

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