This legislation tiptoes around several larger issues that Congress will eventually need to address.
- Assistance to civilian counterterrorism forces: U.S. lawmakers are trying to avoid the country’s corrupt defense ministry while still supporting Yemen's counterterrorism work, handled in part by Yemen’s MOI. But congressionally-mandated limitations prohibit the Pentagon from training Interior Ministry forces through its primary counterterrorism resource, the Section 1206 global train and equip authority. This ensures that the Pentagon focuses on military-to-military cooperation and reflects a judgment that military assistance to civilian counterterrorism forces is inappropriate. Yemen now is an exception to this determination, raising complex questions about which U.S. federal department should be providing security assistance to interior security forces and police.
- Balance of security assistance authorities: Traditionally, the U.S. government supports foreign militaries and security forces through programs and initiatives planned and budgeted by the Department of State. Over the last decade, however, DOD’s role in the planning, budgeting, and implementation of foreign and security assistance programs has increased, raising concern about the militarization of U.S. foreign policy. Though this particular authority requires Secretary of State ‘concurrence’, decision making follows the money. DOD’s expanded role in security and related foreign assistance is linked, in part, to the perceived absence of sufficient flexibilities, human capabilities, and funding at State and USAID. These challenges have led Congress to provide temporary ‘workarounds’ to circumvent perceived inadequacies on the civilian side.
- Legislating by 'workarounds': Congress continues to made decisions about training and equipping foreign security forces and police on a case-by-case basis, adding or extending certain authorities to address the needs on the ground. Security assistance programs and authorities have therefore not been comprehensive developed or planned, creating instead a patchwork of authorities and programs that invariability get extended. For example, the FY2011 NDAA extended Section 1206 Authority for yet another year- its fifth- without making a formal, institutional decision about the program.