U.S. military once trained Colombians implicated in Haiti assassination plot, Pentagon says

US Training Foreign Hitmen, Israeli Spyware Used to Monitor Journalists on a Global Scale, Biden Says No to Haiti Military Aid & more



July 19, 2021

U.S. military once trained Colombians implicated in Haiti assassination plot, Pentagon says

Washington Post, July 2021

A number of the Colombian security personnel implicated in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse had previously received U.S. military training. The admission by the Pentagon comes just weeks after new revelations detailed the military training members of the Saudi hit squad responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi received from a private U.S. military contractor. 

That the U.S. provided military training to individuals linked to two of the most high profile assassination of the past decade has cast a harsh spotlight on the U.S. foreign military training enterprise broadly, and has raised questions about the safeguards in place to prevent instruction from being provided to criminals, coup leaders, or human rights abusers. 

In FY2018, the U.S. provided training to over sixty-seven thousand international military students, a figure that does not include instruction purchased commercially by foreign clients, as was the case with the Saudi hit squad. The scale of the enterprise itself poses a challenge, including the ability of various stakeholders, whether executive branch managers or legislative overseers, to track and monitor those that receive U.S. training. 

In many cases, safeguards meant to prevent the provision of training to those implicated in human rights violations or other abuses are easily and routinely circumvented. Whether that is the lack of Leahy Law vetting for arms sales, the use of waivers to bypass regulations, or the fact that commercially licensed sales are not fully reported on, the lack of stronger frameworks in U.S. foreign military training increases the risk that the U.S. is implicated in the unsavory behavior of its trainees. 

To read the full article, click here, and to read our recent factsheet on U.S. training of Saudi nationals, click here


Security Assistance News & Research Roundup

News & Blog Post

Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide

Washington Post, July 18

Military-grade spyware licensed by an Israeli firm to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives and two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and 16 media partners.

Western governments chided at arms conference for ‘enabling’ Arab regimes to spy on citizens

Middle East Eye, July 17

Western nations and arms companies are complicit in aiding regimes in the Middle East to spy on their citizens, speakers at an international conference shedding light on the human rights implications of the arms trade, said on Saturday.

British arms sales to Saudi Arabian regime three times higher than previously thought, investigation finds

The Independent, July 14

According to a new investigation, the British government approved “closer to £20 billion” worth of arms sales, including bombs, missiles, and aircraft, to Saudi Arabia to help them in the war in Yemen. This figure is three times higher than the initial £6.7 billion that officials approved.

EU agrees to send military training mission to Mozambique

Reuters, July 12

The European Union will accommodate Mozambique’s request for military training in support of the government’s fight against rebels in Cabo Delgado Province. Early details indicate a training mission of 200-300 EU personnel initially lasting two years.  

Biden Administration Shows Little Appetite for Haiti’s Troop Request

New York Times, July 13

The United States government dispatched FBI and Department of Homeland Security representatives, but the Biden administration remains hesitant to send military assistance to Haiti after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse led to requests for U.S. troops. 

Israel To Seek ‘Advanced’ Tech From US In Case Of New Iran Deal

BreakingDefense, July 13

Israel will request “new military compensation” from the United States, including advanced technology that it has previously not had access to, should Washington and Tehran agree to a new nuclear deal, reports Arie Egozi for Breaking Defense.

Poland to beef up defenses with 250 US-made Abrams tanks in $6 billion deal

Stars and Stripes, July 14

The Polish government has announced the purchase of 250 M1A2 Abrams tanks at a cost of $ billion this week, citing the need to “deter a potential aggressor” in reference to Russia. US forces have been a consistent presence in Poland since 2017, and the Pentagon announced plans for a permanent military base in Poland last year.

Research, Analysis, and Opinion 


Ending Chaos in Haiti Is Not a Job for U.S. Troops

Bloomberg, July 13

The murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has left the Caribbean nation in turmoil, but it’s not the United States military’s problem to fix, writes James Stavridis for Bloomberg. Instead, “the best approach is clearly civil and multilateral,” as the Biden administration should deploy interagency operational teams in tandem with a military mission on behalf of the UN, “with an emphasis on the larger nations in the region” that previously employed peacekeeping efforts, like Brazil and Chile.

U.S.-German-Polish Cooperation Key to Securing Europe’s Eastern Flank

RealClearDefense, July 14

A new article by Andrew Michta and James Carafano urges the United States to increase military cooperation with Germany and Poland in an effort to bolster security coordination in Europe and lay the groundwork for decreased U.S. support in the future. 

Chronicle of a Defeat Foretold

Foreign Affairs, July/August

In an essay for Foreign Affairs, Christina Lamb writes a review of Carter Malkasian’s new book The American War in Afghanistan. The book is a comprehensive account of the failure of the United States in Afghanistan, making note of several missteps and missed opportunities, including how the United States failed to press an early advantage and excluded key power brokers including the Taliban from initial political structures.

Data Fact of the Week:

Top 10 Recipients of U.S. Foreign Military Training, FY2008-FY2018

The graphic above shows the top 10 recipients of U.S. foreign military training between FY2008-FY2018 

In the past month, new revelations have detailed how forces trained by the U.S. have been implicated in the two highest-profile assassinations in recent memory – the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. 

From The U.S. Government 

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