Report: U.S. ignores human rights in military training programs abroad

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WASHINGTON — The United States has ignored human rights and
civilian relations in military education programs in the Middle East,
a report said.

The Government Accountability Office, in a report titled “International
Military Education and Training,” asserted that the Defense Department and
State Department have ignored human rights in military education programs in
Middle East states. GAO, in findings confirmed by the two departments, said
International Military Education and Training programs in countries
deemed dictatorships do not take into account the need for freedom and

Pakistani officers and enlisted men participate in the U.S. International Military Education and Training program (IMET). /AP

“We recommend that the Secretaries of State and Defense take steps to ensure that human rights training is identified as a priority for those IMET recipient countries with known records of human rights concerns,” GAO said.
“These steps may include highlighting human rights and related concepts in country training plans.”

GAO, in a report dated October 2011, found that IMET programs in most of the 29 countries deemed “not or partly free” do not provide instruction on such subjects as human rights, civil-military relations and military justice. IMET provides millions of dollars for programs in such countries as Algeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya and Gulf Cooperation Council states.

Jordan comprises the largest IMET program in the Middle East, reported
at $3.8 million. Lebanon, whose government is controlled by the
Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah, received $2.5 million in military eduction in
fiscal 2010.

“Though Libya received IMET funds in fiscal year 2010, it was excluded
from this analysis because program money was withdrawn for fiscal year 2011
and no current training plan exists,” the report said. “Based on information
from a State official, Saudi Arabia also was excluded from this analysis
because of the limited size and scope of its IMET program.”

Virtually the only IMET recipient in the Middle East that received some
instruction in democracy was Sudan. Egypt and Tunisia, which underwent
revolts in 2011, were trained largely in English and technical skills.

The Pentagon and State Department said they agreed with the findings and
recommendations of GAO. The report also urged the government to evaluate the
effectiveness of U.S. military education.

“These steps should build on current efforts toward a more systematic
collection of performance information — at multiple points in time, over
several years, and for a set of objective performance measures,” the report

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