Friday links María Teresa Ronderos: Why history was divided in two
Jul 142008

We have just added a big new section to the “Just the Facts” online database of U.S. military programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. It lists all U.S. facilities that have offered training and education to personnel from the region over the past several years.

The database reveals 127 different facilities and installations that hosted trainees and from Latin America and the Caribbean since 1999. We’ve listed below the 20 that provided the most training, and the number of trainees from the region at each. To see the entire list, visit the new page.

There, you can click on each institution to find out how many students came from each country in the region. Clicking on the resulting page reveals what courses they took and what units they belonged to.

This information comes from more than 25,000 lines of data painstakingly compiled from the State and Defense Departments’ annual Foreign Military Training Reports.

Institution 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 TOTAL
Inter-American Air Forces Academy, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas 609 580 477 575 721 766 984 654 5,366
Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Fort Benning, Georgia 452 433 705 514 748 821 575 679 4,927
Coast Guard Training Center, Yorktown, Virginia 61 56 66 64 642 482 505 692 2,568
Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies 154 217 224 269 273 234 425 379 2,175
Army Aviation Center, Fort Rucker, Alabama 109 99 145 221 147 119 96 117 1,053
Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School, Stennis Space Center, Mississippi 4 50 61 109 215 144 317 134 1,034
12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas 78 195 152 175 130 251 981
Defense Language Institute English Language Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas 123 121 91 67 86 87 67 88 730
Army Aviation Logistics School, Fort Eustis, Virginia 72 69 30 107 94 83 94 87 636
Security Assistance Training Field Activity, Fort Monroe, Virginia 385 85 470
Naval Post-Graduate School, Monterey, California 26 43 19 38 101 51 83 35 396
Air Force Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama 43 42 25 21 34 20 38 39 262
Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 27 40 30 28 35 9 15 34 218
Army Engineer School, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri 28 19 13 22 39 12 18 24 175
Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia 28 18 8 24 28 12 12 13 143
Army Medical Department Center and School, Fort Sam Houston, Texas 17 19 10 7 22 10 25 20 130
Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island 16 30 6 18 9 9 12 26 126
National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington DC 7 13 1 13 29 23 24 110
Army Logistics Management College, Fort Lee, Virginia 28 23 18 15 13 4 4 2 107
Army Ordnance Corps, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland 18 16 11 10 18 10 12 11 106

Many visitors to “Just the Facts” come seeking information about the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC, the successor to the U.S. Army School of the Americas).

Here, from the new “Just the Facts” WHINSEC page, is a country-by-country breakdown of WHINSEC students since 1999. Clicking on a country or a number reveals courses and students’ units.

Country 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 TOTAL
Colombia 95 80 235 105 304 323 220 214 1,576
Chile 8 2 159 31 82 128 52 11 473
Bolivia 57 23 48 57 35 78 4 47 349
El Salvador 7 7 13 39 36 77 75 94 348
Honduras 44 11 16 10 39 62 73 90 345
Peru 64 66 25 21 33 35 2 49 295
Ecuador 46 47 45 24 45 23 4 41 275
Dominican Republic 18 4 32 51 20 13 22 47 207
Paraguay 17 25 22 36 26 5 20 6 157
Costa Rica 22 23 23 41 22 5 3 3 142
Venezuela 8 12 35 29 26 7 117
Argentina 20 8 12 19 11 16 19 1 106
Mexico 26 12 18 5 29 3 6 99
Suriname 78 1 3 3 3 88
Panama 1 1 5 13 10 17 39 86
Nicaragua 12 2 10 10 21 13 11 79
Uruguay 8 21 18 15 7 1 70
Guatemala 8 1 13 10 8 20 60
Jamaica 2 16 16 34
Antigua and Barbuda 5 1 6
Belize 2 2 4
St. Kitts and Nevis 1 1 2 4
St. Lucia 1 3 4
Guyana 1 1
Trinidad and Tobago 1 1
Dominica 1 1
TOTAL 452 433 705 514 748 821 575 679 4,927

This is pretty cool, we don’t mind saying.

Many, many thanks to CIP Intern Stephanie DiBello for her hours of tireless work helping to get this extensive training database in working order.

11 Responses to “127 different military schools”

  1. Randy Paul Says:

    You know what really makes me happy? The complete absence of Brazil from that list.

  2. Adam Isacson Says:

    Mainly a language issue.

    We count 459 Brazilians trained at other facilities 1999-2006: see

  3. Randy Paul Says:

    Shucks. That does make sense, but on the other hand you have Suriname on this list. I assume they’re using English and not Sranan Tongo . . .

    Nevertheless, given that Brazil had the second longest military dictatorship of the last century, the fact that they are not at WHINSEC is good news. Also, your link indicates the numbers are trending down for all but the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, which includes many non-military areas such as the Foreign Ministry and Education Ministry.

  4. Adam Isacson Says:

    Yes, there are a few WHINSEC courses in English the past few years.

    The downward trend owed mainly to the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act: from mid-2004 through the end of 2006, Brazil was among the 12 countries that couldn’t get some kinds of military aid because it didn’t exempt US personnel from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The ASPA sanctions were removed from the law in 2006, so once the 2007 training numbers are released it will be interesting to see whether the downward trend ended last year.

  5. Chris Says:

    This is on another topic…

  6. Chris Says:

    Thought I would raise everyone’s blood pressure with this Op-Ed… :-)

  7. Randy Paul Says:

    Thanks, Adam. Such is serendipitous aspect of SPSA.

  8. Randy Paul Says:


    If I ever gave the proverbial rat’s ass about what Charles Krauthammer thinks – or even if he thinks – I might be annoyed.

  9. Adam Isacson Says:

    Only an extremist says “hard power, all the time” without even distinguishing between what kinds of “hard power” work and don’t work in a particular situation.

    Greg Weeks responded well to that column:

  10. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Whenever I hear some of these stupid fellows go talking about the “bad guys”, I think to myself: do these people think they are somehow the “good guys”? I bet if further inquiry into their past were undertaken, some of them might come out in a list of wife beaters, fellow killers and child molesters to say the least.

    I am good and you are bad, you are communist I am republican, you are evil I am good. Fezz off b*stards!

  11. jcg Says:

    Good work, Adam & crew. Those are some informative tables, to say the least.

    And in the spirit of information or controversy, as fate may have it…

    It appears, according to photos and video seen by CNN at least, that a single Red Cross bib was used by one of the Colombians participating in the rescue mission, which would potentially constitute a “war crime” (which, if true, could certainly be prosecuted, although it’s not exactly what comes to mind when people think of the term “war crime”, it’s still a legitimate claim).

    It doesn’t seem like the entire operation was falsely representing the red cross, just this one man.

    It seems that the helicopter itself did have a fake “International Humanitarian Mission” logo, similar to the UN’s but not identical. In other words, more like taking some elements of the UN logo (the leaves) and adding them to some other signs. It’s arguable whether that would be a war crime, since the actual logo doesn’t exist.


    An ICRC spokesman in Bogota told CNN that the organization had been in “an ongoing confidential dialogue” with the Colombian government about the report that the emblem may have been used in the operation.

    Among the photos shown to CNN are some bearing a date stamp of July 2, taken at an unidentified landing site in the jungle alongside a farm house.

    In one of those photographs about 15 members of a Colombian military intelligence-led team pose for a photo alongside a helicopter. One of the members, dressed in a dark red T-shirt or polo shirt, khaki cargo pants and a black-and-white Arab-style scarf, also wears a bib of the type worn by ICRC workers.

    The bib bears the Red Cross symbol in the center of two black circles on a white background. In the space between the two black circles appear in capital letters the French words “Comite International Geneve” (International Committee Geneva).

    The same man is standing in the doorway of the helicopter, a Russian-made MI-17 painted white and orange, in another photo. In a third photo, he is pictured walking near the helicopter still wearing the bib.

    The same man pictured in the photos can be seen fleetingly in a heavily edited video of the rescue mission issued to the media by the Defense Ministry two days after the hostages were freed. In one frame, part of what appears to be the ICRC bib is visible as the man wearing it stands in a jungle clearing alongside guerrilla commanders Gerardo Antonio Aguilar, alias “Cesar” and Alexander Farfan, known as “Enrique Gafas,” who were captured in the operation.

    The red blur of a Red Cross can be seen and part of the two black circles of the emblem and the three capital letters “-EVE.” “EVE” are also the last three letters of word Geneve (Geneva) which appears on the official ICRC emblem and bib.

    In two other frames of the officially released video, the same man, dressed in the same clothes as in the pre-departure photos, can be seen still wearing the predominantly white bib tied at the sides. In those shots the ICRC logo is not visible.

    The unpublished video also reveals an emblem that incorporates blue leaves similar to those used in the U.N. logo, although it is not clear if that would constitute a violation of the Geneva Conventions. In the three-and-a-half minute video of the operation issued by the military, emblems pasted on the side of the rescue helicopter cannot be seen. But in the unpublished video and photos shown to CNN, emblems measuring about one square meter are pasted onto the outside of the chopper.

    That emblem bears the Spanish words “Mision Internacional Humanitaria” (International Humanitarian Mission) and a stylized red bird made up of wavy red lines above two curved branches of blue leaves. The leaves are similar in shape to the ones used in the United Nations’ logo, though they appear to be a slightly darker shade than the U.N. blue.

    In the official U.N. logo, the leaves surround a view of the globe from above the North Pole, superimposed over a “wheel” of five concentric circles and eight spokes.

    Additional video clips show how the emblems on the side of the helicopter were stripped off and burned once the rescue mission had been successfully completed. The fate of the bib is not clear from the clips.

    In a brief statement Monday, the media spokesman for the ICRC mission in Bogota reiterated that the ICRC had not been officially involved in the rescue operation.

    “The International Committee of the Red Cross cannot confirm that its logo and/or the Red Cross emblem were used,” the spokesman said. “The ICRC maintains an ongoing confidential dialogue with the Colombian authorities on a variety of humanitarian issues, including news reports that the Red Cross emblem may have been used in this operation.”

    Uribe, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, armed forces chief Gen. Freddy Padilla and army chief Gen. Mario Montoya all categorically stated immediately after the rescue operation that no genuine international humanitarian emblems had been used or misused.

    In a nationally televised news conference, Uribe asked Betancourt whether she had seen any bona fide international humanitarian emblems, and she replied she had not.

    In the official video released by the military, the man wearing what appeared to be an ICRC bib is standing alongside Betancourt and another rescued hostage just before they board the rescue helicopter. That is in the part of the video in which the logo is blurred and not readily identifiable.

    On Monday, government and military spokesmen reiterated their position that all logos and emblems used in the operation had been invented and that no genuine symbols had been used.

    Both of Colombia’s two main guerrilla armies, the FARC and the smaller National Liberation Army, have been known to misuse the Red Cross symbol in the past — sometimes transporting fighters in ambulances. The Colombian government frequently makes international denunciations of rebel violations of international humanitarian law.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the world are highly respected international and national organizations, especially for their work in combat zones. Their statutes establish a position of strict neutrality in a conflict which guarantees their ability to bring humanitarian aid to all sides in a conflict. Other national and international aid organizations do not have such strict rules on neutrality and operating procedures.

    International humanitarian law, partly enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, is seen as a systematic attempt to establish certain rules of war and limit the savagery of conflict. The laws seek to set clear distinctions between warring factions, neutral parties and civilians and what rights and responsibilities each of these has in a combat zone.

    Additional Protocol One and the articles referring to the misuse of international emblems technically refers to international armed conflicts. But signatory nations as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross also consider it a benchmark for internal conflicts, such as the four-decade-old war in Colombia.

    Other photos shown to CNN indicate how little was done to disguise equipment used in the rescue. The two military MI-17 helicopters used in the rescue were repainted white and orange without removing armor-plated panels positioned around the outside of the cockpit. Another shot shows the pilots wearing what appear to be military pilots’ helmets that have been repainted white with orange or red V-shaped stripes. The helmets still have prominent mounts on the front used for attaching night vision goggles.

    The guerrillas, normally highly security conscious, appear to have failed to notice the telltale signs of armored plates and the night vision mounts.

    One other video clip shows the two guerrilla commanders, who had boarded the helicopter with their hostages, carried out of the chopper over the shoulders of two men the CNN source identified as plain-clothes military personnel. The rebels were blindfolded and partially stripped. As they were dumped on the ground, they appeared groggy and stunned.

    Prior to departure of the operation, two soldiers in camouflage uniforms can be seen on the farm where the helicopters were staged chasing a chicken and stunning it with a stun gun.

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