From extremist attacks against civilians in Afghanistan to police abuse of Muslim community members in Kenya, people struggle every day with security threats that violate other basic human rights and inhibit development. Security assistance—the aid, arms, and training provided to other countries’ militaries and police forces—can be a helpful tool to foster stability. 

While U.S. firearms trafficked into Mexico have fueled bloodshed, it seems that German rifles are also reaching Mexico illegally and playing a destructive role. According to an official report, a German gun company has been illegally transferring thousands of G36 rifles to four prohibited states in Mexico.

Following the State Department’s budget request to boost military aid to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine for FY 2016, the Defense Department appears to be following suit with a request to increase military assistance through its European Reassurance Fund to these countries. The aim of the aid to Georgia is “to defend themselves and to enable their participation as full operational partners within NATO…” and “strengthen deterrence against aggressive actions by Russia….”

As President Obama prepares to discuss U.S.-Tunisia security cooperation to combat extremism on Thursday with President Beji Caid Essebsi at the White House, Obama will surely highlight his proposed increased U.S. military aid to Tunisia. For FY 2016, the U.S. plans to allocate $99 million in security assistance to Tunisia, which is a three-fold increase over FY 2014.

In an unprecedented move, the House Armed Services Committee is seeking a broad strategic review of all Defense Department foreign military or security assistance as part of its agreed bill to advance U.S. military programs for FY 2016. The bill, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2016 (H.R. 1753), was approved by the Committee last Wednesday and will be considered by the full House this coming Tuesday.

Combining the State and Defense Department’s FY 2016 requests, the administration is seeking to provide at least $18.7 billion in security assistance worldwide in FY 2016, a 5 percent increase from FY 2015 and a 13.2 percent increase from FY 2014 (see Figure 1). These totals come from a new Security Assistance Monitor fact sheet released today as part of a briefing we’re sponsoring entitled “Assessing Proposed U.S. Security Assistance to Africa, Latin America & Middle East.”