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Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation

The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC) (School of the Americas (SOA)) is a US Army facility at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. It is a Spanish language training facility especially for Latin American military personnel. Around 60,000 people have taken courses, roughly 1,000 a year. The SOA was renamed to WHISC in January 2001 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The institute's remit is "to provide professional education and training" while "promoting democratic values, respect for human rights, and knowledge and understanding of United States customs and traditions"

WHISC's $10 million budget is funded by the Army and by tuition fees, usually paid through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) grants, the International Narcotics Control (INC) assistance programs, or through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program

The SOA was established in Panama in 1946 as the Latin American Training Center - Ground Division. It was renamed the US Army School of the Americas in 1963. It relocated to Fort Benning in 1984 following the signing of the Panama Canal Treaty.

The SOA has been attacked for training members of governments guilty of serious human rights abuses and advocating techniques that violated accepted standards. Graduates of the SOA include men such as Leopoldo Galtieri, Efraín Ríos Montt, Manuel Noriega, Omar Torrijos, Roberto Viola, Guillermo Rodriguez, Juan Velasco Alvarado, and Hugo Banzer Suarez. For this reason, the school has been nicknamed "School Of Assassins".

There is usually a demonstration at the gates of the SOA/WHISC in November around the time of the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

See also: Inter-American Air Forces Academy

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