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Monday, February 22, 2010

Security Assistance Reform: “Section 1206”Background and Issues for Congress

Nina M. Serafino
Specialist in International Security Affairs

Section 1206 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2006 provides the Secretary of Defense with authority to train and equip foreign military and foreign maritime security forces. The Department of Defense (DOD) values this authority as an important tool to train and equip military partners. Funds may be obligated only with the concurrence of the Secretary of State. Thus far, the Department of Defense (DOD) has used Section 1206 authority primarily to provide counterterrorism support. This authority expires in FY2011. 

As of October 13, 2009, Section 1206 allocations total a little under $1 billion for FY2006 through FY2009. Section 1206 allocations totaled some $100 million for FY2006, $274 million for FY2007, $272 million for FY2008, and $340 million for FY2009. (The amounts allocated are somewhat less than the amounts notified to Congress, which totaled over $1 billion for FY2006- FY2009.) 

For FY2010, Congress provided $345 million in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010, P.L. 111-118. (The amount is not specified in the act, but is included under the total appropriated to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.) The FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) put in place a temporary limit of $75 million on the use of Section 1206 funds for each FY2010 and FY2011 to train military troops that would deploy to military or stability operations in which U.S. armed forces participate. The President signed the FY2010 NDAA into law on October 28, 2009 (P.L. 111-84). 

Through the use of FY2006 through FY2009 funds, Section 1206 has supported bilateral programs in 24 countries, 13 multilateral programs, and a global human rights program. Just over 40% of the FY2006-FY2009 Section 1206 funding has been obligated for three countries: Pakistan, Lebanon, and Yemen. Pakistan has been by far the largest recipient, receiving $203.4 million or over 20% of total. About 20% has been allocated to bilateral programs in four countries: Bahrain, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Most of the Section 1206 funding to the latter three focuses on controlling the Celebes Sea that sits among them, as well as adjoining waters. Smaller allocations (i.e., those ranging from $1 million to $32 million) comprise close to 40% of the total. 

Some Members are concerned with several issues related to Section 1206 authority, both narrow and broad. Specific current concerns include whether Section 1206 funds are being used appropriately and effectively, and whether the authority should be expanded to provide training not only military forces but also to a wide range of foreign security forces. (Currently, Section 1206 limits security force training to maritime security forces.) An overarching issue is whether Congress should place Section 1206 train and equip (T&E) authority under the State Department with other T&E authorities. (Members have thus far refrained from codifying Section 1206 in permanent law, as requested by DOD.) A related issue is whether Congress should grant the State Department its own security assistance contingency fund with purposes that overlap Section 1206, as provided in the House-passed FY2010-FY2011 Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 2410, Section 841). Finally, as the Obama Administration conducts an overall assessment of foreign assistance, including security assistance, some Members may wish to examine the status of Section 1206 in the context of broader security assistance reform. 

This report will be updated as warranted. 

Date of Report: January 28, 2010
Number of Pages: 37
Order Number: RS22855
Price: $29.95