The military's growing foreign aid role: a bibliography

Latin America and the Caribbean

Over the past few years, Congress has acceded to several Defense Department requests to use its own budget to provide military assistance, something that it was not legally able to do on its own after 1961, when the Foreign Assistance Act became law.

The result has been a profusion of Pentagon-budget programs that provide military aid very similar to what is already provided through the foreign aid budget. The difference is that these new Defense Department programs have less (or sometimes no) involvement from the State Department; little or no oversight from the congressional foreign relations and foreign-aid committees; fewer legal restrictions on their use, including human rights restrictions; and greater obstacles to obtaining information about their use, due to lighter public reporting requirements.

Examples of such Defense Department programs on the "Just the Facts" website include "Section 1004" Counter-Drug Assistance (begun in 1991, the second-largest source of military and police aid to the region this year), the Regional Defense Counter-Terrorism Fellowship Program (begun in 2003, the fourth-largest trainer of personnel from the region), and the "Section 1206" Train and Equip Authority (begun in 2006, the fourth-largest source of aid this year). (See a full list.)

The Defense Department has made clear its desire to increase these programs' scope and to make them permanent. The result in the past two years has been an increasing debate about the Pentagon's greater role in foreign assistance, and about the military's growing foreign policy role in general.

Here is a bibliography of links to some of the key documents in what is still a very new debate.


  • July 31, 2008: Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on "Defining the Military's Role Towards Foreign Policy"
    • Rough hearing transcript (voice-recognition, from CSPAN)
    • Audio [MP3] and Video [streaming]
    • [PDF] Statement of Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware)
    • [PDF] Statement of Committee Ranking Minority Member Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana)
    • [PDF] Testimony of Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte
    • [PDF] Testimony of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman
    • [PDF] Testimony of George Rupp, CEO and President, International Rescue Committee
    • [PDF] Testimony of Reuben E. Brigety II, Director of the Sustainable Security Program, Center for American Progress
    • [PDF] Testimony of Mary Locke, Former Senior Professional Staff, Committee on Foreign Relations
    • [PDF] Testimony of Robert M. Perito, Senior Program Officer, Center for Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations, United States Institute of Peace
  • April 15, 2008: House Armed Services Committee hearing on "Building Partnership Capacity and Development of the Interagency Process"
    • Audio [MP3] Part 1, Part 2
    • Statement of Committee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Missouri)
    • [PDF] Testimony of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
    • [PDF] Testimony of Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates

Defense Department:

State Department:

Other U.S. Government:

Non-Governmental Organizations and Think-Tanks: