Is Expanded International Military Education and Training Reaching the Right Audience? (Perspectives)

Article excerpt

A key measure of success of any governmental program is in its reaching the target audience. This is no different for an international grant aid program such as Expanded International Military Education and Training (E-IMET) which, as a segment of a broader International Military Education and Training (IMET) program is managed by the Department of Defense (DoD) with coordination and guidance from the Department of State (DoS). The program is authorized by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (as amended) with annual appropriations requested by the President and approved by the Congress.

The ratification of the Government Performance and Results Act in 1993 provided the impetus for many government agencies to document the effectiveness of their programs. Heretofore many were counted as successful based on their efficiency of getting the job done, longevity, or perceived (but quantitatively undocumented) success. While the impetus is there, the mechanism of establishing performance measures with which to quantify effectiveness is both tedious and time consuming, especially for programs which are regarded as difficult to quantify at the outset.

In the case of IMET, it was determined that the DoD would be able to best start documentation with an evaluation of the "Expanded" arm of the program as a smaller, and more easily handled facet, whose performance measures may be proven and then implemented in the context of the entire IMET design. The General Accounting Office (GAO) proposed "the implementation of a mechanism to evaluate the Expanded IMET program." (1)

It is within that context that this researcher attempted to provide solid data as to the success of E-IMET through review of various reports already compiled by U.S. governmental and non-governmental organizations, along with a survey of students who previously attended courses of study within the program. The area of concentration was Central America, more particularly the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. The following information is derived from that study.

What is IMET and E-IMET?

IMET has historically provided grant education and training to members of foreign militaries from the U.S. government. Although going through various forms, grant military training has been around since 1949, being termed IMET in 1976. The primary traditional goal of grant training has been to give "U.S. friends and allies knowledge and skills to improve their military forces and to promote self-sufficiency." (2)

A sidelight is the importance of the personal and professional relationships that are established between individuals, U.S. and international, as they attend training together. It is easy to see, tougher to quantify, how such relationships can impact policy issues and ties between the international community and the U.S. as those students attain higher levels of responsibility within their governments in the succeeding years.

The traditional goal, intact but evolving with the post-Cold War period, has been supplemented with the E-IMET scheme. Subjects such as human rights and democratization have become more important over the years, actually stipulated as early as the Mutual Security Act of 1954. These areas received more attention during the Carter Administration, and have been even more prominent over recent years. The E-IMET program has provided the arm to emphasize human rights and improved military justice systems, effective defense resource management, and civilian control of the military, these being its three specific goals. E-IMET began in 1991, and has broadened and enlarged the audience for such courses. In addition to military personnel and civilian personnel assigned within Ministries of Defense, it now permits and actually desires attendance by government civilians from other ministries as well as those serving in nongovernmental organizations within other countries. A major program thrust is establishing a greater dialogue and understanding between the military establishment and other agencies. …