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DOD Security Cooperation: An Overview of Authorities and Issues

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Technical Report

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Congressional Research Service Washington United States

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Over the past decade, the increasing scope, pace, and cost of Department of Defense DOD security cooperation missions have raised many questions about appropriate DOD and State Department roles and responsibilities in and the utility of such efforts. For some policymakers, DODs new and expanded missions enable the United States to meet the challenges of the complex global security environment more effectively. As such, congressional approval of new DOD security cooperation statutes represents a necessary response to perceived shortcomings of the overarching legal regime through which, for more than 50 years, Congress has largely authorized and funded the State Department to lead and DOD to administer security assistance to foreign countries. Other policymakers, however, question whether DODs growing emphasis on and authority to conduct security cooperation missions undermines the State Departments lead role in assisting foreign security forces and militarizes U.S. foreign policy. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress has given DOD increasing authority to conduct a wide array of security cooperation programs under Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which governs the organization and operations of DOD and U.S. military forces, as well as through the annual National Defense Authorization Acts. DOD may conduct activities such as training, equipping, and otherwise supporting foreign military forces to fight terrorist groups or to enable them to participate in coalition or other operations. DOD may also conduct humanitarian assistance, military and government educational programs, and other initiatives to assist foreign militaries, as well as their governments and populations. Such activities are intended to encourage better relations between DOD personnel and representatives from foreign militaries, governments, and populations.

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