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Thursday, May 2, 2013

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, as amended and regularly extended, provides the Secretary of Defense with authority to train and equip foreign military forces for two specified purposes—counterterrorism and stability operations—and foreign maritime security forces for counterterrorism operations. 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. Through 2009, DOD used Section 1206 authority primarily to provide counterterrorism (CT) support. Since FY2010, Section 1206 authority has also been used to provide significant assistance to train and equip foreign military forces for military and stability operations in which U.S. forces participate. Currently, there is a cap of $350 million on Section 1206 obligations per fiscal year. This authority will expire in FY2014, unless extended.

Section 1206 allocations or notifications for the first seven years, FY2006-FY2012, have totaled nearly $1.8 billion. During this period, Section 1206 supported bilateral programs in 41 countries, 15 multilateral programs, and a global human rights program.

The FY2013 programs notified to Congress thus far total $163.5 million. These provide assistance to enable 10 European countries to participate in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, as well as assistance to five African countries.

Some Members have been concerned with several issues related to Section 1206 authority, both narrow and broad. Specific current concerns have included whether Section 1206 funds are being used appropriately and effectively. Some of these concerns have been partially addressed. For instance, DOD has created a new assessment mechanism and a new delivery process for Section 1206 programs. Congress, through the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112- 239, Section 1201), for the first time permits small-scale military construction assistance that some analysts view as crucial to improving sustainability.

Overarching issues include whether the authority should be expanded to provide training not only to military forces but also to a wide range of foreign security forces (currently, Section 1206 limits security force training to maritime security forces) and 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.) Finally, some Members may wish to examine the status of Section 1206 in the context of broader security assistance reform. 

Date of Report: April 19, 2013
Number of Pages: 42
Order Number: RS22855
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