The Army's "New" School is the Same Old SOA Print


School of the Americas (SOA)

Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation





  • "Secretary of the Army may operate the military education and training facility known as the United States Army School of the Americas" 10 USC 4415
  • Secretary of Defense authorized to operate the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation
  • Secretary of a military branch designated as agent to run the school
This is not a substantive change to the SOA

The Secretary of the Army still runs the school and is responsible to the Secretary of Defense. The name change is an attempt to distract and confuse; to distance the SOA from its history without acknowledging or addressing it.





  • Provide "military education and training to military personnel of Central and South American countries and Caribbean countries"
  • "promote democratic values and respect for human rights; and foster cooperation among multinational military forces" SOA Course Catalog 1998/99
  • SOA currently trains police and civilians
  • Provide "professional education and training" to military, law enforcement & civilian personnel of western hemisphere nations"
  • "fostering mutual knowledge, transparency, confidence & cooperation among the participating nations & promoting democratic values, respect for human rights, & knowledge of US customs & traditions."

There is No Change in purpose between new school and current practice at SOA

  1. Leadership, peace operations, counter-drug courses, etc. already exist at SOA but have never been well attended (14% in 1999)
  2. No requirement to take these courses
  3. No restrictions on type of military training



  • No specific detail in original congressional authorization
  • Currently 8 hours human rights instruction inserted in each course (but no country-specific instruction mandated)
  • Includes minimum of 8 hours instruction in "human rights the rule of law, due process, civilian control of the military, role of the military in a democratic society"
  • Instruction & training on leadership development, counterdrug operations, peace support operations, disaster relief, any other matter that the Secretary deems appropriate
  • No restrictions on type or amount of military training

No change

  1. Codifies current practice
  2. Remains primarily combat school focused on teaching combat skills
  3. Curriculum has not addressed country specific human rights issues (i.e. paramilitaries in Colombia)






  • No mention of Board of Visitors (BOV) in original congressional authorization
  • 6-member BOV was reconstituted in 1999


  • BOV is Not independent oversight board
  • In practice, BOV has been a handpicked group of SOA proponents
  • Meets annually to "inquire into the curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods…"
  • Sec. of Defense selects 6 members including "to extent practicable" members of academic, human rights & religious communities
  • Includes Members of Armed Services Committees
  • Reports actions / recommendations to Secretary of Defense

Codifies current practice

  1. No requirement for inclusion of independent human rights experts, religious leaders, other potential critics
  2. Limited Congressional representation aimed at assuring likely proponents
  3. Members handpicked by DOD or other proponents
  4. Provides NO critical review of the school or the performance its grads




  • No provision in the original congressional authorization
  • Appropriations Committees have required report on school and "general assessment" of graduates
  • BOV submits report of "its action and of its views and recommendations" regarding the school
  • Secretary of Defense submits report on "activities" of the school during preceding year to Congress by March 15

Codifies (and weakens) current practice


  1. Simply a "report" of school's "activities"
  2. Not evaluation of effect of training on graduates or review of performance
  3. Still no tracking of or follow-up on grads