The best defense against a bully is learning to fight back. This requires training from someone who knows when to bob and weave and when to throw a punch. On a much larger scale, the same holds true for the armies of foreign nations that lack the strength and ability to ward off more powerful invaders seeking to do them harm. When this happens, which it does quite often, the smaller and weaker nations almost always look to the U.S. to teach them how it’s done.
Some of the foreign training, such as in the case of pilots, takes place in the U.S. on certain military installations. Widescale troop training is generally achieved within the country asking for help. It’s there where they are taught how to shoot straight, toss grenades, aim mortars, and fight like the men they’re purporting to be.
Some of the training is conducted by our own military forces while much of it is done via civilian contractors hired by the U.S. Defense Department. At any rate, every year the U.S. trains thousands of foreign troops to stand up for themselves so we don’t have to get involved in their deadly scraps.
For all intents and purposes, this makes fairly good sense, but as it is with everything there’s a downside. We’re also training some of the bad guys without any way of knowing it. Those guys who sliced and diced that Saudi journalist, Khashoggi? We taught a couple of them how to do it without making a huge mess.
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Or how about recently assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moise? The way the assassins pulled off what they did took strategic planning far above the skill level of everyday street thugs. It took some guys with former US training.
There are no safeguards in place to assure we aren’t teaching bad people how to be worse, and there are no feasible steps for being able to accomplish such a thing. In a sea of faces, how is one to pick out who the future coup leaders, human rights violators, and would-be assassins are?
As a better perspective, through the combined efforts of the US State Department and the Department of Defense, 62,700 security forces spread throughout 155 countries received the training they had requested in the fiscal year 2018. These figures do not include foreign entities who went straight to U.S. private firms for their training, bypassing the US government. In these cases, money talks regardless of the intent of the people doing the learning.
After spending over $88 billion over the past 20 years attempting to teach Afghan soldiers what to do in the face of danger, they ran at the sight of the Taliban. This also leads to the questions of how effective the training we’re providing actually is, and why do we bother. That $88 billion worth of taxpayer’s money could have done some good here on our own turf, but instead, our government chose to make a bad investment without asking anyone first.
For foreign troops training in the US, the vetting process is weak at best. Huge red flags have been consistently overlooked, as was the case in 2019 at a naval base in Pensacola when a Saudi military trainee shot and killed three US sailors. The investigation following the terrorist attack led to 21 more Saudi military students being red-flagged and told to pack up and get the hell out.
Before coming to the US for training, foreign military members must first be cleared by their home country. Once they arrive in the US they are once again to be vetted. The problem is that no one knows exactly what that vetting process is or which department should be doing it so the general consensus has been to trust the countries that send them here.
Yet we wonder how terrorists enter the US and how the ones pulling stunts worldwide can be so sophisticated with their methods. They’ve had the best training the world has to offer and some of them never even had to leave home to get it. And…much of it has been, and at least for now will continue to be, at the expense of middle-class American taxpayers.
How do you feel about where your hard-earned money’s been going?