U.S. Training of African Security Forces

Earlier this year, the U.S. Departments of Defense and State submitted the 2012-2013 Foreign Military Training Report to Congress.  Mandated by law, this report details “all military training provided to foreign military personnel by the Department of Defense and the Department of State during the previous fiscal year and all such training proposed for the current fiscal year.“


Click to see data for chart one

From 2011 to 2012, training carried out through the Department of Defense’s Regional Centers for Security Studies program (in this case the Africa Center for Strategic Studies) declined by 92.7 percent, from 4,282 to 312 trainees; while training through the Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP) increased 32.5 percent, from 532 to 705 trainees.

Training through the Section 1206 Train and Equip Authority (PDF) program also increased from 41 trainees to 764. The majority of this increase can be attributed to the training of Ugandan forces, with 528 trainees in 2012, and Burundi with 180 trainees. Neither Uganda nor Burundi received Section 1206 assistance in 2011.

In the case of Africa, consistent with previous years, the United States trained most African security personnel through the peacekeeping assistance program called Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), which accounted for the training of over 87 percent of all African forces in 2012. On our website, GPOI training is tracked by its funding source, the Peacekeeping Operations program.

According to the U.S. State Department, GPOI is designed to

Enhance international capacity to effectively conduct United Nations and regional peace operations by building partner country capabilities to train and sustain peacekeeping proficiencies; increasing the number of capable military troops and formed police units (FPUs) available for deployment; and facilitating the preparation, logistical support, and deployment of military units and FPUs to peace operations.

 In 2010, peacekeeping training dropped by almost 68 percent, from 30,253 in 2009 to 9,750 in 2010. As shown in the graph above, 2010 was the only year to register such a decline, and training levels through the peacekeeping program returned to their high levels again in 2011 (24,772 trainees) and 2012 (26,610 trainees).

While peacekeeping training plummeted in 2010, the other training programs increased by 144 percent, from 5,961 trainees to 14,555 trainees. This trend can be seen in the graph below, which shows all training programs, minus the peacekeeping program. As evidenced by the graph, training through the Regional Centers for Security Studies increased significantly in 2010, from 608 trainees in 2009 to 7,383 trainees in 2010 – an increase of 1,114 percent. The Non-Security Assistance – Unified Command training program increased 89 percent in 2010 from 1,821 trainees in 2009 to 3,447 in 2010.  

Despite these increases in training through programs other than GPOI in 2010, training through these programs began a significant decline from 2010 to 2012, coupled with the return to “normal” training levels through the GPOI program.

After 2010, the State Department noted that Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI)’s emphasis progressed from “the direct training of peacekeepers to assisting partner country efforts to build sustainable, national peacekeeping training capacity.” This change in emphasis of the GPOI training could be a contributing factor in the recent decline of training through other programs.


Click to see data for chart two

Top recipients of U.S. training

In 2012, similar to previous years, the countries that received the most training by the United States were Burundi (6,065 trainees), Nigeria (6,020), Uganda (5,597), Ghana (2,375), and Sierra Leone (2,002 ). 


Click to see data for chart three.                 

For some of the smaller countries, such as Burundi, Ghana and Sierra Leone, the number of security personnel receiving U.S. training is notable when compared to the actual size of armed forces. Since the FMTR includes training to military and police forces, as well as ministry staff, a comparison of security personnel trained with the size of armed forces only provides rough estimates regarding the percentage of security personnel with U.S. training. Still, if one compares the number of trainees with the size of the armed forces, the numbers are very high: in the case of Burundi, the 6,065 security personnel trained by the U.S. would amount to 30 percent of the country’s armed forces. In the case of Sierra Leone, it would be 20 percent and Ghana it would be 15 percent. The variety of courses taught through GPOI is wide, with course titles ranging from “Peace Support Operations Soldier Skills Training,” and “Adult Diversion And Peacemaker Training” to “Enhanced Marksmanship,” “Mortar Training,” “Battalion Logistics Course,” and “Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course.”

Burundi has been among the top recipients of U.S. training since 2007. Prior to 2007, Burundi itself was a peacekeeping recipient. United Nations peacekeepers deployed to the country to help stabilize Burundi after a 13-year long civil war, which ended in 2005. Still in the process of transition, Burundi is now the second contributor to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, and it also deploys peacekeeping troops in Mali, Sudan – Abiye, Sudan – Darfur, Cote d’Ivoire, and soon in the Central African Republic.

According to Christian Science Monitor correspondent Elizabeth Dickinson, sending peacekeepers to other countries has allowed Burundi to build and sustain a strong army. While the U.S. provides “top notch training, . . .  the African Union (with European support) pays soldiers’ salaries while they are in theater.” Dickinson writes that the Burundi government “asked the United States to train the entire military, rather than just those troops destined to join Amisom, a request [to which] the US agreed. ”



  1. […] Burundi took over command of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). To learn more about U.S. training of Burundi’s peacekeeping forces, read our blog.  […]

  2. […] concluded on September 27th. To learn more about U.S. training of Burundian armed forces, read our blog […]

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