Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Western Hemisphere Institute for
Richard F. Grimmett
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation was created pursuant
to language contained in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2001 (H.R. 5408),
which was incorporated into the H.R. 4205 conference report (H.Rept. 106-945),
enacted into law on October 30, 2000 (P.L. 106-398). The Institute was created by
Congress in response to a legislative initiative sponsored by the Clinton Administration.
When the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation was formally
established in Section 2166 of Title 10 U.S.C., the authorities of its controversial
predecessor, the U.S. Army School of the Americas, were repealed. This report
provides background on the purpose, structure, and other aspects of the new Institute.
It will be revised as events warrant.
The FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5408) enacted into law by
P.L.106-398, established authority for the Secretary of Defense to operate a facility for the
purpose of providing “professional education and training to eligible nations of the
Western Hemisphere within the democratic principles set forth in the Charter of the
Organization of American States...while fostering mutual knowledge, transparency,
confidence, and cooperation among the participating nations and promoting democratic
values, respect for human rights, and knowledge of United States customs and traditions.”
The name of the new facility is The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security
Cooperation (WHINSEC). This Institute is the successor to the U.S. Army School of the
Americas, whose authorities were repealed in the legislation establishing the Institute.
The purpose of the new Institute is to help prepare mid-level civilian and military
personnel of eligible countries for various challenges involved in dealing with new
transnational threats to the region. The Secretary of Defense is authorized by law to
designate the Secretary of a military department as the Defense Department’s executive
agent for carrying out the responsibilities of the Defense Secretary in administering the
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Institute. The person designated for this task is the Secretary of the Army1. The Institute
is located on the grounds of the U.S. Army base at Fort Benning, Georgia. The Institute
was formally opened on January 17, 2001, and has begun to conduct training at this2
location since that date.
Eligible Personnel. Individuals who are military, civilian, and law enforcement
personnel from nations of the Western Hemisphere are eligible to participate in the
Institute’s education and training activities. By law, the Secretary of State is to be
consulted in the selection of foreign personnel for education and training at the Institute.
Faculty and Staff. The Institute’s faculty and staff consists of United States
military officers, enlisted, and civilian personnel, in addition to guest foreign instructors.
The State Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the International
Committee of the Red Cross provide full-time and adjunct professors. The Institute also
hosts up to three visiting Fellows annually.
Curriculum. By law, the curriculum of the Institute must include “mandatory
instruction for each student, for at least 8 hours, on human rights, the rule of law, due
process, civilian control of the military, and the role of the military in a democratic
society.” The Institute is authorized to provide instruction and other training activities in
the following areas: leadership development, counterdrug operations, peace support
operations, disaster relief, and “any other matter that the Secretary determines
appropriate.” The Institute consists of three departments: Professional Military Education
(PME), Civil-Military Studies, and the Training Battalion.
The Professional Military Education Department provides five professional
development courses to senior military commanders, staff officers, and junior officers
dealing with topics such as joint military operations, course of action analysis, and decision
making. These multinational courses are taught by both U.S. and foreign guest
instructors, and range from five to 49 weeks in length.
The Civil-Military Studies Department provides courses for both military and civilian
students, focusing on skills and knowledge that can improve civil-military cooperation.
The Institute’s Human Rights/International Law Division is located in this Department.
This Department is under the supervision and guidance of a State Department Foreign
Service Officer who is an expert in Latin American and Caribbean affairs. Army lawyers,
1 On May 29, 2001, the U.S. Army was designated the executive agent for WHINSEC by the
Secretary of Defense.
2 Details on the Institute are based on its founding statute, information from the U.S. Army, and
information found at the Institute’s website at [http://www.benning.army.mil/whisc/index.htm].
The new Institute’s establishment has been linked with the disestablishment of a predecessor school
at Fort Benning , Georgia–the U.S. Army School of the Americas. A notable degree of controversy
was attached to the School of the Americas, and some opponents of that School have indicated their
opposition to the new Institute. For background on issues associated with the former U.S. Army
School of the Americas, see CRS Report RL30532, U.S. Army School of the Americas:
Background and Congressional Concerns, by Richard F. Grimmett and Mark P. Sullivan. For
views of an advocacy group critical of both the former School as well as the new Institute, see the
web site at [http://www.soaw.org/ ].
chaplains, and Latin American guest instructors conduct the eight functionally structured
civil-military courses. These courses cover a broad spectrum of areas including:
operational planning for peace operations; disaster relief, tactical planning and execution
of counter drug operations, and civil-military operations. These courses include large
numbers of civilian students representing both governmental and non-governmental
The Training Battalion at the Institute provides the organization and cadre to teach
and train military leadership and tactics to junior officers and non-commissioned officers.
It also provides interagency instruction in counterdrug operations and in disaster relief.
The Battalion provides 16 resident courses, consisting of tactical and leadership courses
for both military officers and noncommissioned officers, as well as law enforcement
officers. The goals of these courses are to enhance the professionalism of Latin American
and Caribbean military field units and their conduct of military and interagency operations,
while developing their skills in effectively interacting with civilians and neighboring military
forces during the conduct of multilateral operations.
Congress has demonstrated a long-standing interest in military instruction and training
of foreign students at U.S. military installations. Controversies related to activities at the
former U.S. Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, led to attempts from
and in some instances to abolish it and its functions entirely. The strongest critics of this
School, inside and outside the Congress, argued that in the post-Cold War circumstances,
there was no compelling reason to continue its operations.3 Others in Congress took a
different view, arguing that a military training institution for students from nations in the
Western Hemisphere had continuing utility, but that it was important to ensure that its
focus and training activities were consistent with support of U.S. interests, policies and
values. In this context, Congress authorized the creation of the Western Hemisphere
Institute for Security Cooperation, while at the same time disestablishing the U.S. Army
School of the Americas in the FY2001 Defense Department authorization , enacted into
law on October 30, 2000. Through explicit statutory guidelines for the new Institute’s
operations, the need for funds to be appropriated annually, and the requirement for an
annual report on the Institute’s activities, Congress has indicated that it will continue to
monitor the Institutes’s progress in fulfilling its mandate. Key elements of oversight of the
new Institute are described below.
Funding. The Institute receives funding from three sources: Operations and
Maintenance Funds, Army (OMA); International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL)
Funds; and International Military Education and Training (IMET) Funds. Such funds are
annually provided through the Defense Department appropriations legislation, and the
Foreign Operations appropriations legislation. By law, tuition fees charged for persons
who attend the Institute may not include the “fixed costs of operating and maintaining the
Institute.” The Defense Department’s preliminary estimate was that the initial costs of
3 For background on the controversies associated with the former school, see CRS Report
RL30532, U.S. Army School of the Americas: Background and Congressional Concerns, by
Richard F. Grimmett and Mark P. Sullivan.
operating the new Institute would be comparable to those of the now disbanded U.S.
Army School of the Americas. The Department of the Army has stated that the total cost
of operating WHINSEC in FY2002 is $5.887 million. The largest portion ($3.419 million)
of this total comes from the Army’s Operation and Maintenance account. Another
estimated $1.5 million comes from the IMET account.4
Board of Visitors and Oversight of the Institute. The statute creating the
Institute established a Board of Visitors. This Board is composed of the chairman and
ranking minority member of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees or
a designee of any of these individuals; six persons designated by the Secretary of Defense,
“including, to the extent practicable, persons from academia and the religious and human
rights communities. The Board also includes one person designated by the Secretary of
State, and additional military personnel to include the “senior military officer responsible
for training and doctrine for the Army” or a “designee” of that senior military officer, as
well as the “commander of the unified combatant command having geographic
responsibility for Latin America,” or a “designee” of that officer.
The Board of Visitors is to meet at least once a year, and is charged with inquiring
into the “curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, and academic methods
of the Institute, other matters relating to the Institute that the Board decides to consider,”
and “any other matter” determined to be appropriate by the Secretary of Defense. The
Board is to review the curriculum of the Institute to determine whether it: “complies with
applicable United States laws and regulations,” is “consistent with United States policy
goals toward Latin America and the Caribbean,” adheres to current United States
doctrine,” and that “instruction under the curriculum appropriately emphasizes” the
matters mandated in law relating to instruction on human rights, the rule of law, due
process, civilian control of the military, and the role of the military in a democratic society.
The Board is to submit to the Secretary of Defense, not later than 60 days after its annual
meeting, a “written report of its activities and of its views and recommendations pertaining
to the Institute.”
The Institute, as a Defense Department school, receives routinely scheduled visits
from standard Defense Department oversight agencies. The Defense Department, the
Joint Staff, and the U.S. Army will validate the education and training needs for North
American nations. In the case of Latin American and Caribbean nations, the Southern
Command, as the unified command responsible for that region, will conduct annual
validation reviews of courses to ensure that they support one or more the SOUTHCOM
Theater Engagement Plan’s objectives. Each year, not later than March 15, the Secretary
of Defense, by law, must submit to Congress a “detailed report on the activities of the
Institute during the preceding year. This report must be prepared in consultation with the
Secretary of State.
4 Data provided by U.S. Army. By comparison, the last available annual operating budget figure
for the U.S. Army School of the Americas was for FY2000 and was estimated to be $4.445
million. See CRS Report RL30532, U.S. Army School of the Americas: Background and
Congressional Concerns, by Richard F. Grimmett and Mark P. Sullivan, p. 2.