October 2, 2018
his is something that often gets forgotten about.
The U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) was founded in 1946 and originally located at Fort Gulick in the Panama Canal Zone. The School aimed to instruct the armed forces of Latin America using training programs that were doctrinally sound and compatible with United States customs and traditions in a cost effective and militaristically professional way. From 1961 (during the Kennedy administration), the School was assigned the specific Cold War goal of teaching "anti-communist" counterinsurgency training to military personnel of Latin American countries. At the time and in those places, the label "communist" was, in the words of anthropologist Lesley Gill, "... an enormously elastic category that could accommodate almost any critic of the status quo." During this period, Colombia supplied the largest number of students from any client country.
On September 21, 1984, the school was expelled from Panama under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. Prior to this expulsion, politicians and journalists in Panama had complained that civilian graduates from the school engaged in repressive and antidemocratic behavior In December of that year, the school reopened at Fort Benning, Georgia, as part of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. Spanish was the official language of the school and although human rights training was a part of the program, many questioned the effectiveness of this curriculum. In 1989 the School set in place a requirement that a basic, sufficient block of human rights instruction would be 8 hours long. Further international curriculum on human rights was included in the instruction, as were warnings about the penalties of human rights abuses. Despite this required instruction, the School still utilized material from Spanish language training manuals that discussed methods of coercion against insurgents through execution and torture from 1982 until 1991. The Department of Defense released excerpts of these manuals in September 1996, prompting further criticism of and controversy surrounding the School.
As the Cold War drew to a close around 1990, United States foreign policy shifted focus from "anti-communism" to the War on Drugs, with narcoguerillas replacing "communists". This term was later replaced by "the more ominous sounding 'terrorist'" Now, all elements of the School of the Americas are located at Fort Benning with the exception of the Helicopter School Battalion which is located at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
By 2000 the School of the Americas was under increasing criticism in the United States for training students who later participated in undemocratic governments and committed human rights abuses. In 2000, the US Congress, through the FY01 National Defense Act, withdrew the Secretary of the Army's authority to operate USARSA.
The next year, the institute was renamed to WHINSEC. U.S. Army Maj. Joseph Blair, a former director of instruction at the school, said in 2002 that "there are no substantive changes besides the name. [...] They teach the identical courses that I taught and changed the course names and use the same manuals."
In 2013, researcher Ruth Blakeley concluded after interviews with WHINSEC personnel and anti-SOA/WHINSEC protesters that "there was considerable transparency [...] established after the transition from SOA to WHINSEC" and that "a much more rigorous human rights training program was in place than in any other US military institution".
Two of the SOAs manuals can be found and downloaded using the following links:
I am desperately trying to find the English translations of the other manuals (Revolutionary War and Communist Ideology, Terrorism and the Urban Guerilla, Interrogation, Combat Intelligence, Analysis I)
October 2, 2018
I forgot to add this in my OP.
This video, although old, explains what this topic belongs in the terrorism section.
February 17, 2020
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