U.S. Foreign Military Assistance

Program Descriptions Program Reports Budget Requests Other Documents USAID Greenbook

Program Descriptions

Listed below are several U.S. programs that provide foreign states with military and related assistance, directly and indirectly supporting U.S. arms transfers.

Foreign Military Financing:  Foreign Military Financing refers to congressionally appropriated grants given to foreign governments to finance the purchase of American-made weapons, services and training. Since 1950, the US government has provided over $91 billion in FMF to militaries around the world. The vast majority of these funds goes to Israel and Egypt to reward them for making a cold peace in 1979.

    Economic Support FundCongress established the economic support fund (ESF) to promote economic and political stability in strategically important regions where the United States has special security interests. The funds are provided on a grant basis and are available for a variety of economic purposes, like infrastructure and development projects.  Although not intended for military expenditure, these grants allow the recipient government to free up its own money for military programs.

    International Military Education and TrainingInternational Military Education and Training (IMET) grants are given to foreign governments to pay for professional education in military management and technical training on US weapons systems. Over 2,000 courses are offered, including some on human rights and civil-military relations. This program is said by its proponents to promote positive military-to-military contacts, thereby familiarizing foreign officers with "US values and democratic processes," though critics argue there is too much emphasis on military skills and not enough on human rights. The Expanded IMET program offered to certain states only focuses on the latter.

    Counter-Narcotics Assistance:   Through International Narcotics Control programs, the US government provides funds for military equipment and training to overseas police and armed forces to combat the production and trafficking of illegal drugs. These funds are generally dedicated to the export of firearms and the refurbishment of surveillance aircraft, transport planes and helicopters.Additional counter-narcotics training and equipment is provided by the Department of Defense, the Drug Enforcement Agency and other agencies. In recent years, human rights abuses by military and police units receiving this aid - especially in Colombia - have intensified criticism of the program.

Non-Proliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs:  This category of funding provides resources in support of a variety of security-related foreign policy objectives. Funds go to nuclear non-proliferation programs, anti-terrorism aid, demining activities, and - a new item in FY 2001 - small arms destruction programs.

Peacekeeping Operations:   These funds provide voluntary support for international peacekeeping activities (as opposed to the U.S. share of UN-assessed peacekeeping operations, which is financed elsewhere). PKO funds promote increased involvement of regional organizations in conflict resolution and help leverage support for multinational efforts where no formal cost sharing mechanism is available.

Assistance for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union:   The Freedom Support Act (FSA) was passed in Congress on October 24, 1992 with the goal of providing the states of the former Soviet Union funds that support free market and democratic reforms through demilitarization, humanitarian and technical assistance. The bill particularly endorses American investment and trade through enterprise funds, small business programs and access to credits for purchases of U.S. food exports. The FSA also provides funding for nuclear nonproliferation programs and activities, as well as the dismantlement and destruction of biological, chemical and conventional weapons, and humanitarian aid, including health and human services programs. While funds allocated through this program are not used to purchase weapons or military training per se, they are used to enhance law enforcement and border security capabilities. These funds also free up money that the recipient government can then spend in other ways, including on defense.

For more information on these programs, see Chapter 1 of the Arms Trade Revealed

Military Aid Reports

Budget Requests

FY 2008

FY 2007

FY 2006

FY 2005

FY 2004

FY 2003

    FY 2002

      FY 2001

      Other Documents


      • U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants database containing foreign assistance figures (including military aid) for the years 1946-1999. Searchable by country.