School of the Americas:

U.S. Military Training for Latin American Countries

NSIAD-96-178: Published: Aug 22, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the U.S. Army School of the Americas and a Department of Defense (DOD) initiative to strengthen civilian institutions involved in defense and security activities in Latin American countries.

GAO found that: (1) the Latin American environment in which the School operates is undergoing radical political and economic change; (2) in addition, the role of the military in many of these societies is beginning to evolve from one of political dominance to a more professional model subordinate to the civilian authority; (3) although the School trains the majority of Latin American students that come to the United States for Army training, primarily because the curriculum is taught in Spanish, it provides a small percent of the training that the Army provides to foreign students from around the world; (4) virtually all of the 745 students attending the School in 1995 represented their countries' military or police forces, with few civilians attending the School; (5) many of the courses at the School provide instruction in military and combat skills; however, since 1990, the curriculum has been broadened to include courses addressing post-Cold War needs of the region; (6) the courses offered at the School are based on U.S. military doctrine, and foreign students from other regions receive basically the same courses at other Army training locations, with the exception of the School's emphasis on human rights; (7) courses are taught by U.S. and Latin American military personnel and some civilian instructors; (8) a recent study contracted for by the Army to determine whether the School should be retained and why concluded that the School should continue but recommended a number of changes; and (9) in response to the emerging post-Cold War need to strengthen civilian institutions in Latin America, DOD is considering establishing a separate institution to focus on civilian-military relations and the development of greater civilian expertise in the region's defense establishments.

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