The Effectiveness of U.S. Training Efforts in Internal Defense and Development

The Cases of El Salvador and Honduras

by Michael Childress


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To evaluate U.S. military training and advisory programs for teaching internal defense and development (IDAD) skills to the militaries of El Salvador and Honduras, this report examines whether U.S. training provided to foreign military students in the subject countries promotes human rights, professionalism, democratic values, national development, and appropriate civil-military relations, as well as meeting the general goals of the International Military and Education Training (IMET) program. Drawing on interviews with trainers, U.S. Embassy personnel, and an extensive review of periodicals and books, the author concludes that a causal relationship between U.S. training efforts and improvements in human rights and other values is difficult, if not impossible, to establish. Indeed, the author suggests that the influence of the country's culture, history, and politics may override U.S. training efforts intended to alter students' behavior. In short, the taproot cause of the behavior of these two countries' militaries is structural factors--factors that U.S. training efforts typically do not address. The report presents a comprehensive bibliography of background sources.

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