The White House has admitted that it is unsure whether the Pentagon has a vetting process in place for foreign fighters that they train. National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, made the admission in response to reporters’ questions about the US conducting a review of individuals it is training in light of recent coups in countries like Niger. Kirby stated that he was not aware of any reviews being conducted by the Pentagon, but he did mention that US training focuses on democracy support, the rule of law, and anti-corruption efforts.
This admission comes after a report by The Intercept confirmed that General Moussa Salaou Barmou, one of the leaders of the coup in Niger, had been trained by the US military. General Barmou, who previously served as the chief of Niger’s Special Operations Forces, received training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the National Defense University in Washington, according to Nigerien sources and an anonymous US government official cited by The Intercept. The report also suggested that Barmou is likely not the only individual involved in the coup who has received US training.
There have been concerns about the involvement of US-trained officers in recent coups across the region. The Intercept noted that the coup in Niger is the 11th in the region where US-trained officers have been involved. Previous takeovers in countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, Gambia, Guinea, and Mauritania have also seen the participation of officers trained by the Pentagon.
While the US claims to train foreign military personnel to certain standards, including the laws of war and democratic standards, they have limited control over their actions once the training is completed. According to government sources cited by The Intercept, “We train to standards. However, these are foreign military personnel. We can’t control what they do. We have no way to stop them.”
The issue of foreign fighters receiving US training raises concerns about the potential unintended consequences. While the intent of the training may be to promote democracy, the involvement of US-trained officers in coups raises questions about the effectiveness and impact of such training programs. It also highlights the challenges of balancing the US interest in promoting democratic values with the need for stability and security in fragile regions.
The Biden administration has not yet clarified whether it plans to review the training programs or implement stricter vetting processes for the foreign fighters that the Pentagon trains. As the situation unfolds, it will be crucial for the US government to reassess its approach to training foreign military personnel and consider the potential implications of their actions on regional stability and US interests.
In conclusion, the admission by the White House that it is uncertain about the Pentagon’s vetting process for foreign fighters receiving US training raises concerns about the unintended consequences of such programs. The involvement of US-trained officers in recent coups highlights the need for a reassessment of the training programs and a consideration of the potential impact on regional stability and US interests in promoting democracy.