Recently made public records show that the U.S. In their deployment of proxy forces, Special Operations forces are not obligated to conduct background checks on foreign personnel for prior human rights breaches, raising worries about potential abuses and escalating tensions.
Newly disclosed documents reveal that U.S. Special Operations forces are not required to vet foreign troops they arm and train as surrogates for past human rights violations. The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, shed light on two Pentagon surrogate force programs: one for counterterrorism and another for irregular warfare. While the Pentagon is more open about security cooperation with allies, its use of surrogates remains secretive. The reliance on proxy forces has increased in American foreign policy, aiming to reduce the risk of casualties while achieving specific objectives. The disclosures have sparked calls for tighter rules on proxy forces, with concerns about training abusive units and fueling conflict. The Pentagon has defended its vetting process, but critics argue that the documents confirm human rights vetting is not required. The laws governing these programs do not provide free-standing operational authority or specify the targets.