The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is pushing back on a Pentagon proposal to train foreign military officers from the Middle East and elsewhere, arguing that it unnecessarily replicates an existing program run by the State Department.
â€œDespite requests, I have received no information on what problem this Department of Defense proposal may seek to address, or why any such problem cannot be addressed through improvements to the existing State Department-led program,â€ Senate Foreign Relations Committee James Risch, R-Idaho, told Al-Monitor. â€œAbsent details from [the Defense Department], this appears to be a duplicative effort which would compete with the existing State Department program.â€
Risch also said that the State Departmentâ€™s International Military Education and Training (IMET) program is critical â€œfor the foreign policy of the United States and has long been overseen by the Secretary of State because of its many implications for our relations with other nations. I strongly support IMET and even welcome its expansion where that might be in the national interest.â€
Why it matters:Â Â The Pentagon proposal, first reported by Al-Monitor, would run parallel to IMET, which the United States uses to train foreign military officers from across the globe, including Iraq, Turkey, Jordan Lebanon, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The Pentagon maintains that its proposal is meant to supplement,Â not replaceÂ IMET.
Whatâ€™s next:Â Â While Risch noted that the current proposal, as written, appears to duplicate IMET, he also invited Pentagon officials to discuss any enhancements they would like to make to the State Department program.
â€œIf the Defense Department believes updates could be made, I welcome their engagement and am happy to discuss,â€ said Risch.
Know more:Â Â Congressional correspondent Bryant Harris has the full scoop and details the Pentagonâ€™s foreign military training proposal, including the original document.