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last updated:2/10/06
Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation
(Successor to School of the Americas) Fort Benning, Georgia

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Program description Law

The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), located at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, is the Defense Department's principal Spanish-language training facility for Latin American military and law-enforcement personnel (though some civilians attend as well). It is the successor to the School of the Americas (SOA), a facility established in 1946 and legally closed in 2001. The WHINSEC is located in the same building, and offers many of the same courses, as the school it replaces. Along with the U.S. Air Force's Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA), WHINSEC attracts the largest number of Latin American military students.

The Army’s operations and maintenance account pays the institute’s fixed costs. Student tuition costs are covered mainly by grants through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) and International Narcotics Control (INC) programs, or purchases of training through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

In 2003, the WHINSEC began adding English-language courses to its curriculum, beginning with its Non-Commissioned Officer Development and Instructor Training courses. As a result, the school began to host a contingent of students from the English-speaking Caribbean.

The School of the Americas had been questioned for years, as it trained many military personnel before and during the years of the "national security doctrine" -- the dirty war years in the Southern Cone and the civil war years in Central America -- in which Latin American militaries ruled or had disproportionate government influence and committed serious human rights violations. Training manuals used at the SOA and elsewhere from the early 1980s through 1991 promoted techniques that violated human rights and democratic standards. SOA graduates continue to surface in news reports regarding both current human rights cases and new reports on past cases.

Defenders of the SOA and its successor, however, argue that they do not teach abuse, and that today the curriculum includes human rights as a component of every class. They also argue that no school should be held accountable for the actions of only some of its graduates.

Section 911 of the 2001 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5408) added a new section 2166 to Title 10, U.S. Code (the part of U.S. law that governs the military). The new section repealed the legal authorization for the old School of the Americas and made the following changes.

  • The Fort Benning facility was renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation."

  • The renamed institute's official purpose is now "to provide professional education and training to eligible personnel of nations of the Western Hemisphere within the context of the democratic principles set forth in the Charter of the Organization of American States ... while fostering mutual knowledge, transparency, confidence, and cooperation among the participating nations and promoting democratic values, respect for human rights, and knowledge and understanding of United States customs and traditions."

  • Codifying an existing SOA policy, the new law requires that each student receive at least eight hours of instruction in "human rights, the rule of law, due process, civilian control of the military, and the role of the military in a democratic society."

  • The new law allowed Western Hemisphere civilians and police personnel to attend, and requires that the Secretary of State be consulted in the selection of students.

  • Courses must focus on leadership development, counter-drug operations, peace support operations, disaster relief, or "any other matter the Secretary [of Defense] deems appropriate."

  • The new law codified the old SOA's decade-old practice of inviting a "Board of Visitors" to review and evaluate "curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, and academic methods." A federal committee, the board must include the chairmen and ranking minority members of both houses' Armed Services Committees (or surrogates), the senior Army officer responsible for training (or a surrogate), one person chosen by the Secretary of State, the head of the U.S. Southern command (or a surrogate), and six people chosen by the Secretary of Defense ("including, to the extent practicable, persons from academia and the religious and human rights communities"). The board reviews the institute's curriculum to determine whether it complies with U.S. laws and doctrine, and whether it is consistent with U.S. policy goals toward Latin America and the Caribbean. Within sixty days of its annual meeting, the Board must submit a report to the Secretary of Defense describing its activities and its recommendations.

  • The law requires a detailed annual report on the institute's activities, which the Secretary of Defense, after consulting with the Secretary of State, must submit to Congress by March 15 of each year. No report was produced in 2001; the Defense Department claimed that the newly created institue had no activities to report. As of July 2002, the 2002 report had not yet been produced.

The "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation" is authorized by section 2166 of Title 10, U.S. Code.

Section 4415 of Title 10, which formerly authorized the School of the Americas, was repealed by section 911 of the 2001 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5408).

The changes the new law makes to the school are enumerated in the bulleted list to the left.

  • H.R. 5408, the 2001 National Defense Authorization Act (link to the "Thomas" website of the Library of Congress). The changes to the School of the Americas can be found in section 911.
  • WHINSEC Board of Visitors report to Congress for 2004 (PDF format)
  • Minutes of December 1-2, 2004 Board of Visitors' Meeting (MS Word [.doc] format)
  • Minutes of December 11-12, 2003 Board of Visitors' Meeting (MS Word [.doc] format)
  • Minutes of June 3-4, 2003 Board of Visitors' Meeting (MS Word [.doc] format)
  • Minutes of December 12, 2002 Board of Visitors' Meeting (MS Word [.doc] format)
  • Curriculum review by the Curriculum Subcommittee,
    WHINSEC Board of Visitors, September 10, 2002 (MS Word [.doc] format)
  • Minutes of June 3-4, 2002 Board of Visitors' Meeting (MS Word [.doc] format)

 


Operating budget:

The cost of keeping the WHINSEC's doors open is currently $7.5 million. According to an August 2002 WHINSEC document, $1.2 million comes from security assistance funds (mainly IMET, INC, and the Defense Department's Counter-Terror Fellowship Program) and Foreign Military Sales (FMS).[9] The document does not specify the origin of the remaining $4.4 million, though much is probably Defense Department operations and maintenance funding.

During the late 1990s, the School of the Americas' operating budget was approximately $4 million per year. In 1999, about $2.8 million paid for civilian employees' salaries and the facility's maintenance, while $1.2 million in security assistance funds and Foreign Military Sales paid for students' attendance in SOA courses. The school's overall budget, including military salaries, was about $10 million per year.[1

Source
1995 [2]
1996 [3]
1999 [1]
2000 [11]
2002 [9]
2003 [10]
2004 [14]
2004 [13]
Army operations and maintenance funds
$ 2.6 million
$2.701 million
$2.8 million
$3.2 million
n/a
$6.3 million
$6.5 million
$6.6 million
Security assistance funds
$ 1.2 million
$1.2147 million
$1.2 million
$1.2 million
$1.2 million
$1.2 million
$2.1 million
- IMET
$640,500
n/a
- FMS
$140,900
n/a
- International Narcotics Control (INC) funds
$433,300
n/a
Section 1004-DoD Drug Interdiction
DoD Counter-Terror Fellowship Program
JCS funds for exercise support
$27,800
Total
$ 3.8 million
$3.9 million
$4 million
$4.4 million
$5.6 million
$7.5 million
$9.7 million [14]

Courses:


Latin American and Caribbean Students at WHINSEC (2001-present):

2001 [9] 2002 estimate [9] 2003 [10] 2004 [12] 2005 estimate [15] 2006 estimate [16]
No. of students
% of total
No. of students
% of total
No. of students
% of total
No. of students
% of total
No. of students
% of total
No. of students
% of total
Argentina
18
3%
3%
1%
17
2%
18
3%
12
2%
Bahamas
1
0%
Belize
1
0%
Bolivia
79
12%
9%
4%
128
15%
30
5%
61
10%
Chile
159
24%
23%
15%
85
10%
50
8%
13
2%
Colombia
151
23%
17%
37%
336
39%
198
33%
256
42%
Costa Rica
20
3%
4%
3%
3
0%
3
0%
Dominica
1
0%
Dominican Republic
46
7%
8%
2%
18
2%
41
7%
26
4%
Ecuador
47
7%
3%
6%
29
3%
28
5%
37
6%
El Salvador
11
2%
6%
8%
14
2%
70
12%
28
5%
Grenada
2
0%
1
0%
Guatemala
3
0%
2%
1%
10
1%
14
2%
2
0%
Guyana
1
0%
Honduras
12
2%
2%
5%
119
14%
63
10%
94
15%
Jamaica
19
2%
6
1%
6
1%
Mexico
19
3%
1%
3%
5
1%
17
3%
18
3%
Nicaragua
3
0%
1%
2%
14
2%
15
2%
6
1%
Panama
1
0%
1%
2%
16
2%
14
2%
34
6%
Paraguay
19
3%
5%
3%
4
0%
14
2%
3
0%
Peru
18
3%
5%
4%
45
5%
18
3%
66
11%
St. Kitts and Nevis
1
0%
1
0%
St. Lucia
2
0%
1
0%
2
0%
Suriname
3
0%
4
1%
Trinidad and Tobago
1
0%
Uruguay
12
2%
3%
1%
3
0%
Venezuela
41
6%
7%
3%
1
0%
1
0%
Total
659

100%

756
100%
857
100%
872
100%
608
100%
670
100%

2004 students: Military 633 (64%); Police / Law Enforcement 334 (34%); Civilian 18 (2%) [9]
(number includes students from the United States and Canada not reflected in above table)

2001 students: Military 462; Police: 152; Civilian 44 [9]
(total of 658 comes from same source document as above table, which cites 659)


Latin American and Caribbean Students at SOA (1996-2000):

1996 [4] 1997 [5] 1998 [6] 1999 [7] 2000 estimate [8]
No. of students
% of total
No. of students
% of total
No. of students
% of total
No. of students
% of total
No. of students
% of total
Argentina
14
2
18
2
2
3
4
Bolivia
55
6
42
5
11
8
6
Brazil
2
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Chile
150
16
145
17
21
23
24
Colombia
139
15
99
12
8
23
16
Costa Rica
17
2
22
3
2
3
4
Dominican Republic
39
4
26
3
4
4
3
Ecuador
28
3
9
1
2
2
2
El Salvador
55
6
14
2
1
3
3
Guatemala
1
0
1
0
1
Honduras
123
13
33
4
9
4
4
Mexico
149
16
305
36
27
9
5
Nicaragua
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Panama
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Paraguay
4
0
11
1
1
2
2
Peru
91
10
98
12
7
6
17
Uruguay
3
0
8
1
1
4
2
Venezuela
47
5
22
3
5
5
6
Total
916
100
854
100
816
100
652
100
624
100

 


Top attendance at SOA (1996-2000) and WHINSEC (2001-present):

Rank
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000, est. 
2001
2002, est.
2003
2004
1
Chile
Mexico
Chile
Chile
Chile
Colombia
Colombia
2
Mexico
Chile
Peru
Colombia
Colombia
Chile
Bolivia
3
Colombia
Colombia
Colombia
Bolivia
Bolivia
El Salvador
Honduras
4
Honduras
Peru
Venezuela
Ecuador
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Chile
5
Peru
Bolivia
Bolivia
Dominican Republic
Venezuela
Honduras
Peru
6
Bolivia
Honduras
Mexico
Venezuela
El Salvador
Peru
Ecuador
7
El Salvador
Dominican Republic
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Paraguay
Bolivia
Jamaica
8
Venezuela
Venezuela
Argentina
Mexico
Peru
Mexico
Dominican Republic
9
Dominican Republic
Costa Rica
Honduras
Paraguay
Costa Rica
Venezuela
Argentina
10
Ecuador
Argentina
Dominican Republic
Peru / Argentina
Ecuador
Paraguay
Panama

Other sites


Sources:

1 Maj. Gen. Bruce K. Scott, U.S. Army Chief of Legislative Liaison, "U.S. Army School of the Americas Facts and Information," attachment to letter to Rep. Tammy Baldwin, February 19, 1999.

2 United States, General Accounting Office, School of the Americas: U.S. Military Training for Latin American Countries, document no. NSIAD-96-178 (Washington: GAO, August 22, 1996) <http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/useftp.cgi?IPaddress=wais.access.gpo.gov&filename=ns96178.txt&directory=/diskb/wais/data/gao> Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format <http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/useftp.cgi?IPaddress=wais.access.gpo.gov&filename=ns96178.pdf&directory=/diskb/wais/data/gao>.

3 United States, Department of Defense, response to inquiry from Rep. Sidney R. Yates, March 13, 1997.

4 U.S. Army School of the Americas, June 1997 <http://www.benning.army.mil/usarsa/main.htm>.

United States, Department of the Army, Certifications and Report on the U.S. Army School of the Americas, Washington: January 1998 <http://www.benning.army.mil/usarsa/certif/content.htm>.

5 United States Army School of the Americas, Yearly List of Students Trained at SOA, 1997.

6 United States, Department of Defense, Department of State, Foreign Military Training and DoD Engagement Activities of Interest in Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999: A Report to Congress (Washington: March 1999).

7 United States, Department of Defense, Report on the U.S. Army School of the Americas:  Prepared for the Committees on Appropriations, United States Congress (Washington: January 2000).

8 United States, Department of Defense, Report on the U.S. Army School of the Americas:  Prepared for the Committees on Appropriations, United States Congress (Washington: January 2000).

9 United States, Department of Defense, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, "Commandant's Briefing: Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation: A New Institute for a New Century," (Columbus, GA: August 2002) <http://www.benning.army.mil/whinsec/whinsec_brief/Internet%20brief%2013%20Aug.htm>.

10United States, Department of Defense, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, "Power point Briefing: Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation: Fostering Friendships, Strengthening Democracy," <http://www.benning.army.mil/whinsec2/uploadedFiles/Cmd%20Brief%20Eng-%20web%20site%2003.ppt>.

11U.S. Army School of the Americas, Command Brief <http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usamhi/usarsa/BRIEF/ENGLISH/Spring2000/CommandBrief/index.htm>.

12 Western Hemisphere Institute for Securtiy Cooperation, "Students," PowerPoint slide obtained February 2, 2005 (Fort Benning, GA: WHINSEC, 2005)

13 E-mail communication with WHINSEC personnel, February 2, 2005.

14 Board of Visitors for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, WHINSEC Report to Congress for FY 2004 (Washington: Department of Defense, November 2005) <http://www.fido.gov/facadatabase/docs_reports/2005-12170-12168_Report%20to%20Congress_(2005-11-18-09-01-39).pdf>.

15 Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Command Information Briefing, PowerPoint presentation (Fort Benning, Georgia: July 2005) <https://www.infantry.army.mil/whinsec/uploadedFiles/05%20jul%20Cmd%20Brf%20EN%20%20for%20web(1).ppt>.

16 Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, PowerPoint presentation (Fort Benning, Georgia: January 2006) <http://ciponline.org/facts/0602whin.pdf>.

 

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