"The SOA Watch November weekends since 1997 have become for me a kind of spiritual homecoming. The November event renews my spirit of hope that a better world is possible. What could be more enlivening to one's spirit than enriching educational workshops, riveting political insights, and enlivening music at the stage in front of the gates all Saturday afternoon.
The culminating event on Sunday morning of the sacred ritual procession commemorating the lives of our sisters and brothers in Latin America who have been disappeared, murdered, abused by the graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC continues to haunt me each year. To be perfectly honest I join SOA Watch at Ft. Benning gates not because the SOA Watch movement needs me as much as I need the creative and welcoming spirit of the community that gathers to feed my resolve to keep on, keeping on in the struggle for justice."
- Kathleen DeSautels, 8th Day Center for Justice, Chicago; former SOA Watch Prisoner of Conscience
WHINSEC FAST FACTS
Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation Current Facts as of October 29, 2012: Five courses in session, 325 students from 14 countries.
Course Highlights, October 29-November 2:
Intermediate Level Education Course
(59 students) conducts training on Joint Support, Army Force Generation, Army Role in Joint Operations, Focus Group, Application of Joint Operations Planning Procedures, the process of United States elections.
Captains Career Course
(31 students) conducts Cordon and Search Exercise, Urban Operations training, Pattern Analysis, Training Exercise w/o Troops in Columbus, Targeting Tactical Decision Exercise, and Company Operations Orders.
Medical Casualty Assistance Course
(26 students) conducts training on Litter Evacuation, MEDEVAC procedures, Manual Evacuation, Combat Lanes (MSTC), Litter Obstacle Course.
NCO Professional Development Course
(48 students) conducts M16A2/M4 (48 students) conducts training on Air Mobile Operations, Establishing a Check Point, Personnel Recovery, Occupying an Assembly Area, Counter Insurgency Operations, Individual Movement Techniques, Self Defense, Military Operations on Urban Terrain, gives a Tactics Exam and a Physical Fitness Test.
Cadet Leadership Development Course
(161 students) conducts training on Map Reading, Map Reading Exam, Terrain Association, then conducts Day and Night Land Navigation, and a 3-day Field Training Exercise (Continuous Operations).
Mandatory Human Rights Class
All students and instructors entering our Institute must receive human rights instruction. The Human Rights Class, like the Democracy Class, is given at the beginning of each course to impress upon the students that democratic values, international human rights law, and international humanitarian law are essential to leadership skills in the armed forces. Its length varies in proportion to the length of the course. Courses that are four weeks or less normally include an eight- or twelve-hour block of instruction, those that are more than four weeks but less than six months include at least a sixteen-hour class, and those that are six months or longer include a minimum of forty hours of human-rights instruction. Classes are tailored to the particular requirements of the course.
The Human Rights Class consists of three distinct segments: Ethical Foundations, Legal Imperatives, and Operational Considerations. The Ethical Foundations segment, taught by the Institute’s Chaplain, incorporates morals and ethics; personal and professional values; and the Just War Doctrine. Ethics are closely linked to our disciplinary code of conduct. The Judge Advocate teaches legal imperatives and international human rights law in detail. The Institute emphasizes the difference between legal and illegal orders and the duties of soldiers when issued illegal orders and/or encountering human rights abuses. International Humanitarian Law underlies operational considerations and focuses on the Hague and Geneva Conventions; the (two) Protocols; and customary international law as it applies to human rights and international humanitarian law.
Further reinforcement comes from case studies, including the massacres at My Lai, El Mozote, and Bojaya.
The second part of the human rights program consists of the human rights courses offered at the Institute. The Human Rights Instructor Course is a three-week course that incorporates human rights instruction (substantive) with human rights training methodology (procedural). The purpose of this course is to certify instructors so that they are able to train personnel in the area of human rights in their own countries.
The third part of the human rights program—Human Rights Assistance—consists of Subject-Matter-Expert Exchanges (SMEE). These involve visits to other countries in the Hemisphere for the purpose of exchanging ideas on the training of human rights, primarily focusing on subject matter and methodology or training techniques. SMEEs on human rights training and education have been conducted with the security forces of Bolivia, Colombia, and Venezuela. A human rights SMEE has also been conducted with the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica.
Democracy and Human Rights Week, the last part of the human rights program, is a week-long teaching event. As the first event on the Command and General Staff Course calendar, the week introduces students to the vital importance of human rights and democratic values in military and police operations. It maintains a keen focus on human rights, ethics and the rule of law, and consists of classes, lectures, case studies and guest speakers on professional ethics, international human rights law, international humanitarian law and democratic decision-making. The week includes the participation of a delegate from the International Committee of the Red Cross and several civilian professors, all experts in their fields.
The Institute has a broadly representative Democracy and Human Rights Interagency Working Group that advises the Institute’s leadership on all aspects of our Democracy and Human Rights Program and performs the very important function of keeping it current, productive, challenging and effective. Its annual meetings are open to the public.
The Institute additionally consults with civilian educational institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as to how security forces, human rights NGOs and other experts can work together to prevent human rights abuses during military and police operations. The International Committee of the Red Cross assists us during Human Rights Week and other training events. We welcome the participation and observations of human rights NGOs.
Major General H. R. McMaster Commanding General
Major General H. R. McMaster assumed command of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) and Fort Benning on 13 June 2012.
Prior to his arrival at Fort Benning he most recently served as Commander, Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force Shafafiyat (Transparency) in Kabul, Afghanistan. Previously he served as Director of Concept Development and Learning at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. He was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1984. He holds a PhD in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
McMaster’s previous command assignments include Eagle Troop, Second Armored Cavalry Regiment in Bamberg, Germany and in Southwest Asia during the 1991 Persian Gulf War; 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry in Schweinfurt Germany from 1999 to 2002; and 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Carson, Colorado and in Iraq from June 2004 to June 2006. Staff assignments include special assistant to Commander, Multinational Force-Iraq from February 2007 to May 2008; director, Commander’s Advisory Group at US Central Command from May 2003 to 2004; and squadron executive officer and regimental operations officer in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment from July 1997 to July 1999.
He also served as an assistant professor of history at the United States Military Academy from 1994 to 1996. McMaster’s military education and training includes the Airborne and Ranger Schools, Armor Officer Basic and Career Courses, the Cavalry Leaders Course, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and a U.S. Army War College fellowship at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace. McMaster has also served as a senior consulting fellow at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London.
Columbus, Georgia, 11/2012