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On-the-Record Statement by Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, Director, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, to the Media

Good afternoon everyone and thank you for coming today to discuss foreign military training and education programs and the exceptional value they provide to our nation. 

I want to start by saying that while I will highlight the types of military training and education programs the United States offers and the value they provide, I want to be clear that nothing is more important than safeguarding American lives.  My heart and the hearts of all of us are with the families of those three shipmates we lost and with the people of Pensacola and the impact this event has had on the community. 

The training and education of foreign military personnel in the United States is one of our most effective security cooperation tools.  What makes the U.S. approach to security cooperation different from our near-peer competitors is that the basis of our approach isn’t the sale of goods and services, but the enduring relationship that comes along with it. 

At the heart of any defense relationship is a human relationship that is built and fostered through opportunities for U.S. and foreign military students to train alongside one another.  When international military students attend training and education in the United States, they are exposed to our values, our culture, and our people.  These human relationships serve as the building blocks for our long-term strategic and defense relationships. 

In addition to building lasting relationships, our training programs build the capacity of our allies and partners to provide for their own defense and contribute to shared security challenges.

Since the year 2000, over 1 million international military students have been trained in the United States and overseas.  We have trained over 28,000 Saudi students over the life of our security cooperation relationship.

In fact, 3,980 current and former Heads of State, Ministers of Defense, Chiefs of Defense, and other General Officers received training in the United States. 

The Chief of the German Air Force was recently here to talk about future procurements.  He noted that he did his flight training in the United States and that he feels, each time he arrives in the United States, that he is coming home. 

Recently, our own Secretary of Defense has discussed his personal experience training alongside foreign partners.  He attended West Point with students from other countries, trained at the Hellenic, or Greek, Military Academy, and trained alongside an officer from Africa while he was on active duty.

International Military Students can receive training and education in the United States under a variety of programs.  The Department of Defense and the Department of State both have authorities and appropriations to fund military training in the United States.  Most of this training occurs at Department of Defense facilities and schools.

The Department of Defense provides funds for international military training and education under a variety of DoD programs such as Section 333 Global Train and Equip, Counter Terrorism and Irregular Warfare Training Program, the Regional Centers for Security Studies, the Service Academies—West Point, Navy and Air Force—and Service-specific exchange programs.

In addition, the Department of Defense executes foreign military training pursuant to Department of State authorities and programs.  The Department of State has three main programs that support training of foreign militaries:  International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and the Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) account. 

The Department of State funding via the International Military Education and Training program is primarily focused on the professionalization of partner nation military forces.  By focusing on Professional Military Education at every level of an individual’s career, our intent is to develop professional leaders with whom the United States can work and foster enduring relationships that enable collaboration over the long-term. 

The Department of State also relies on Foreign Military Financing to fund training, which typically focuses on tactical or operational subjects and/or is directly related to a procurement made through other programs. 

In addition, State funds training through the Peacekeeping Operations account that is almost exclusively conducted in various partner nations and is primarily for peacekeeping, counterterrorism, maritime security and military professionalization purposes in select countries.

The programs I have discussed thus far are programs that rely primarily on U.S. grant assistance.  However, many of our allies and partners come to the United States for training associated with procurements of defense articles and services under the Foreign Military Sales program.   This training is primarily self-funded, meaning the partner pays using their own money.

This is important to note because it shows that our allies and partners see the benefit of the long-term relationships associated with training alongside the United States and are also willing to invest their own funds to accomplish it.

As you can see, the scope of our international military education and training programs covers both skill and task-based training, as well as college and graduate level professional military education. 

International military students are here as student visitors to learn skills and professions, but also to learn about our people, our culture, and our values.  And this cannot be overstated.  The benefits of these programs are intangible.  When you break bread with someone, learn about their family, and create memories you are creating a bond.  These human relationships promote long-term defense and strategic relationships, increase our interoperability, and enable partners to contribute to our shared security objectives over the long term.