Earlier this year there was a controversial (although wonky and quiet) battle between the Department of Defense and the Department of State over who has primacy in managing U.S. foreign military assistance to allies and partners. The Department of Defense won the argument and unseated the traditional role of State in overseeing the programs. So now the Defense Department is scrambling in some respects to build the in-house infrastructure to oversee massive, complicated, sensitive, and highly consequential programs that give military gear and training to foreign countries. It's no easy task, as the State Department knows (and is very often criticized for not being perfect at). One thing we have are eyes and ears tuned to is how the Department of Defense will choose to monitor and vet military supplies according to the Leahy Law, which restricts U.S. military funding from going to units, groups, or governments that are guilty of gross violations of human rights. This important law has been a thorny issue for the State Department, who has just 9 "Leahy vetters" to monitor almost $6 billion a year. There is some understandable concern that by shifting such an important task from the diplomatic State Department to the war Defense Department might lead to a more aggressive, less rights-respecting, aid strategy. We share those concerns and will be watching this very, very closely as Congress finalizes their authority this week and as DoD starts taking over control in the coming months. It is a pretty seismic shift in U.S. military aid policy.

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