152_accountForeign aid is one of the most controversial issues in the U.S., but many people who are against increasing foreign aid fail to realize that only less than 1 percent of the U.S. annual budget is devoted to foreign aid. Most of the people who want to cut foreign aid estimate that the U.S. spends up to 30 times more on foreign aid than it actually does.

The aid that the U.S. gives is divided into two subcategories — the 151 account and the 152 account. As the Center for Global Development states, while the 151 account deals with international development and humanitarian assistance, the 152 account is concerned with international security assistance. The U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department are the two groups that provide the most money for international aid. In 2010, the 152 account — international security assistance — was given 10.38 billion dollars in aid.

This money for security assistance is utilized in several different ways, and the programs are administered by the Department of Defense and the State Department. One of the most widely known programs that uses this security assistance is International Military Education and Training (IMET). IMET uses the money in order to provide training to foreign troops using U.S. military doctrines, tactics and equipment when necessary. An example of IMET in action is the security assistance that the U.S. has provided to Lebanon. Since 1985, the U.S. has had more than 1,000 Lebanese military students come to the U.S. for training and education.

In 2007, the U.S. spent $10,581 million on the 152 account, $16,287 million on the 151 account and a total of $68,408 million on their international affairs budget. While this may seem like a lot of money, in the same year, the U.S. spent $625,850 million on its national defense budget.

The 152 account is important because it provides security assistance to groups that need tactical training and weapons. It helps to ensure that the three core security objectives of the U.S. – enhancing U.S. security, bolstering America’s economic prosperity and promoting democracy abroad — are carried out. The security assistance training programs, such as IMET, are supposed to improve the relations between the U.S. and other countries and promote self-sufficiency.

– Ashrita Rau

Sources: CGD, Oxfam America Princeton The White House The White House FAS FPC GPO Congressional Research Service
Photo: American Foreign Relations