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U.S. foreign military assistance organizations

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As part of its broad scope, the United States has several types of foreign military assistance organizations that are established, on a case-by-case basis, for particular missions in friendly Host Nations (HN).

Foreign Military Sales

The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program provides equipment, and possibly instructors in its use, to a HN. It differs from a Military Assistance Program and the International Military Education and Training Program in that the recipient provides reimbursement for defense articles and services transferred.

Legal authority for Foreign Military Sales comes from the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, as amended

Monies made available under U.S. foreign aid programs may be earmarked, in part or full, to be spent on FMS.

International Military Education on Training

These programs can operate in the U.S., with the students either at a U.S. military school or with distance education, or in the HN. The level of training can range from supplying publication to attendance at a midcareer or senior military educational institution. IMET is a nonreimbursable program.

The U.S. has exchange programs with a number of countries. For example, there are often U.S. officers attending the British staff college, with their counterparts at a U.S. institution.

Military Assistance Program

MAP personnel administer the provision, in a HN, of military articles and services (e.g., training) on a nonreimbursable basis. Funds appropriated under the MAP program may or may not be reported as part of "foreign aid" to a country.

Military Assistance Advisory Group

A military assistance advisory group (MAAG) is made up of personnel from one or more services, under a MAAG commander who represents the U.S. Secretary of Defense, but routinely reports to the head of the appropriate regional Unified Combatant Command. A MAAG, while it may train HN combat forces, is not equipped or organized to lead U.S. or HN troops in combat. As opposed to a Military Assistance Program and the International Military Education and Training Program in that the recipient provides reimbursement for defense articles and services transferred. Also

Should the requirement change and the HN needs direct combat leadership or will operate as a coalition force with U.S. and other nations, the MAAG will be replaced by another type of headquarters. For example, in Vietnam, when the U.S. committed combat troops, MAAG-V was replaced by a Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MAC-V). After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, a coalition headquarters was formed, first with the Saudis and then other nations. There can be a blurred line, as in Greece in 1947, where there were U.S. advisors with Greek combat units, but the chain of combat command remained clearly Greek.

Military Assistance Command

The Military Assistance Command (MAC) is a larger organization than a MAAG, capable of commanding U.S. and multinational forces in combat, as well as continuing the support and training functions of a MAAG. With a MAC structure, there is usually an assumption that the MAC will have the principal command role, as opposed to shared leadership in coalition operations.

Coalition operations

Coalition operations, which may be for combat or for operations short of war, assume a shared command model. In most cases, U.S. units will remain under the operational control of U.S. officers but may be under a commander from a different nation, especially in operations under international organizations such as the United Nations. It is not uncommon, however, to find an officer of a nation that has generally common doctrine and communications with the U.S. to have operational control of U.S. units, and vice versa.

In Operation Desert Shield, the MAAG supporting the Saudis became subordinate to the multinational coalition. The command relationships were very carefully structured to respect national sovereignty, especially of the HN, Saudi Arabia.