The Defense Department today announced the establishment of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC), a Spanish language professional education and training facility for military, law enforcement, and civilian officials of the nations of the Western Hemisphere. The Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2001 that President Clinton signed into law Oct. 30 authorizes the Secretary of Defense to establish the institute and to appoint a military service as executive agent.
WHISC will be located at Fort Benning, Ga. Classes begin in late January 2001. All nations of the hemisphere not under sanctions will be eligible to attend the new institute.
The new institute will provide professional education and training to eligible personnel of the nations of the Western Hemisphere. It will focus its training on the democratic principles set forth in the charter of the Organization of American States (to which the United States is a signatory). The institute will foster mutual respect, confidence, and cooperation among the participating nations and will promote democratic values, respect for human rights, and knowledge and understanding of U.S. customs and traditions among the students.
The student population will include military members, governmental and non-governmental civilians, and law enforcement officials of our hemispheric neighbors. The cadre will include United States and Latin American civilian and military instructors. Civilian faculty will include resident professorship chairs from the Department of State, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and prominent international non-governmental organizations.
The resident curriculum will also include offerings in the areas of peace support operations (such as disaster relief, disaster preparedness, transnational security threats, international operational law, and civilian operations), as well as information operations, democratic sustainment, and advanced counterdrug operations. All courses will include a program of human rights instruction.
The operations and curriculum of this institute will be reviewed regularly by an independent Board of Visitors consisting of members of the U.S. Congress, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and civilians from academia, clergy and international non-governmental organizations. The board will make recommendations and report directly to the Secretary of Defense on all aspects of governance at the institute. WHISC will also be open to visits from the public. It will maintain the highest academic standards, and its faculty and staff will present forward-looking and relevant courses to address the region's needs.