U.S. Foreign Military Training to Saudi Arabia

U.S. Military Training of Saudi Officials, Efforts to Prop up Afghan Air Force, Arms to the Sahel Harming Security and more



July 12, 2021

U.S. Foreign Military Training to Saudi Arabia

Security Assistance Monitor, July 2021

A new factsheet from the Security Assistance Monitor looks at U.S. military training provided to Saudi Arabia over the last two decades and comes amidst new revelations regarding the training American defense contractors provided to the Saudi assassins who murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. 

The factsheet notes that the U.S. has trained thousands of Saudis over the years, a figure that excludes training that Riyadh has purchased directly from defense contractors. Unlike training purchased through the foreign military sales process, training bought through direct commercial contracts is not publicly reported and is not included in the statutorily mandated annual U.S. Foreign Military Training report. 

Saudi Arabia has received billions in American arms and defense services over the past decades despite a recent campaign of suppression and violence directed at dissidents, activists, and political rivals of the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. 

A recent New York Times report provides new details of the training that the Saudi assassins received from U.S. Defense Contractor, Tier 1 Group, raising concerns about the safeguards in place to prevent U.S. training from reaching human rights abusers. 

For the full factsheet, click here

Security Assistance News & Research Roundup

News & Blog Post


U.S. to Prop Up Afghan Air Force

Foreign Policy, July 8

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby announced this week that the Secretary of Defense has signed an order to deliver 37 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and 3 A-29 Super Tucano strike aircraft to the Afghan Air Force, along with contractors to provide logistics, repair, and maintenance services to the Afghan Air Force.

The U.S. Is Sending A Team Of Investigators To Haiti, But Not Military Assistance

NPR, July 8

Officials from multiple United States agencies are joining the investigation into Wednesday’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse but have rebuffed Haitian requests for U.S. military assistance to stabilize the country. 

Wall Street Journal, July 5

“The US spent over $40 million on securing the Afghanistan-Tajikistan crossing,” write Yaroslav Trofimov and Ehsanullah Amiri for the WSJ. “Now the Taliban is collecting customs revenues.” The Sher Khan Bandar crossing north of the city of Kunduz, built by the United States, has become a new source of income for Taliban insurgents.

Italy Eases Curbs on Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

U.S. News, July 6

Italy recently loosened its restrictions on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in an effort to ease diplomatic tensions, according to a government source. Restrictions were initially introduced in January to curb arms exports that might be used in Yemen, where Rome is committed to “restoring peace.”

US ends military academy program with Cambodia

The Hill, July 1

Amid fears of growing Chinese influence and a minor diplomatic incident at one of Cambodia’s naval bases in June, the US has announced that Cambodian cadets are no longer eligible to attend American service academies. An embassy spokesperson said that “Cambodia’s curtailment of cooperation in several areas of traditional bilateral military-military engagement” was to blame for the change in status. 

US Congress adds condition to aid to Colombia’s police

Colombia Reports, July 1

The House Subcommittee on Foreign Operations Draft Budget for FY 2022 appropriates approximately $461 million to Colombia for counternarcotics operations; but 30% of that aid is contingent on a satisfactory report from the Secretary of State verifying the Colombian government is holding human rights violators accountable, preventing attacks against activists, and respecting the rights of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities. Funds allocated to “combating corruption and impunity,” aviation maintenance, and maritime security programs are exempt from conditionality.


Research, Analysis, and Opinion 


SIPRI warns arms for Mozambique will not necessarily end insurgency

The Diplomat, June 25

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute argues that providing new arms to armed forces in Mozambique “is not necessarily in the interests of ending violence” and would “risk worsening an already dire situation for local civilians” even as the Southern African Development Community ponders over military invention in and increased arms sales to the East African nation. 

How US-Funded Abuses Led to Failure in Afghanistan

Just Security, July 6

“U.S. policy [in Afghanistan] was guided by a number of myths,” writes Patricia Gossman of Human Rights Watch. “One was that the Afghan strongmen, warlords, and militia commanders the United States chose as allies in ousting the Taliban could help to provide security and stability, despite their records of abuses.”

NATO Is an Alliance Divided

Wall Street Journal, July 6

NATO is experiencing inner turmoil as the United States increasingly seeks to spend its military assistance dollars in the Indo-Pacific, writes Andrew Michta. This shift would require increased military commitment from European nations, which they are hesitant to provide.  

Data Fact of the Week:

Number of Saudi International Military Students Trained by the Departments of State and Defense, FY2000-2019

The graphic above shows the number of Saudi international military students trained by the U.S. Departments of Sate and Defense between FY2000 and FY2019. 

A new SAM factsheet looks at U.S. military training provided to Saudi Arabia amidst new revelations regarding the training American defense contractors provided to the Saudi assassins who murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Click here to read the full factsheet

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