9 Examples of Military Aid (Throughout History)

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Military aid is when a donor nation provides finances, equipment, troops, or training to another country in order to help them defend themselves and address security threats. Each year, billions of dollars are given by countries around the world to their allies in military support. Military aid has played a vital role in many conflicts throughout history. Let’s look at some examples…

US Military Aid to South Korea

South Korea is one of the largest recipients of US military aid in the world.

The United States provides around three billion US dollars’ worth of military aid to South Korea each year. Alongside this, America has 30,000 troops stationed in the country. US and South Korean forces conduct joint trainings and military exercises, and the US provides extensive military expertise to South Korean troops.

Following World War Two, the Korean peninsular was divided between Communist North Korea – backed by the Soviet Union, and Capitalist South Korea, supported by the US and Western powers.

In 1950, the Korean War broke-out when North Korea invaded the South. The US led an international force to support South Korea, eventually repelling the invasion. Since the Korean War, America has provided extensive military aid to South Korea. The aim of American military assistance to the Republic of Korea is to deter future aggression by the North and bolster South Koreas defensive capabilities.

America’s support for South Korea is a good example of military aid. The US provides funding to the South Korean military, as well as arms, materials, and training. Assisting the South Korean military is seen as being in America’s own strategic interest, and this is one reason why military aid provided.

Russian Assistance to the Syrian Regime

An example of military aid is the support given by Russia to the regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.

In 2011, the Syrian Civil War broke-out. This began by generally being Western backed rebels against the regime. However, as the war progressed, the opposition fractured to include many more Islamicist parties, eventually also including Al-Qaeda affiliates the Al-Nusra Front and ISIS.

Russia has been a long-time supporter of the Assad regime in Syria and has provided military aid for many years. From around 2014, Russia significantly increased its military assistance to the Syrian Government in order to bolster its position in the conflict and prevent it from falling.

The military aid provided by Russia to Syria is extensive. Reports suggest Russia spends up to six million dollars a day fighting in Syria – that’s over two billion dollars a year. Russia provides military assistance in the form of troops, air-strikes, logistics, training, and finances to the Syrian army.

Russian military aid to Syria is a major example of a non-Western power using military support to further its strategic interests. It is also an example of how military aid can be used to change the course of a conflict in a countries favour.

American Lend-Lease Scheme, World War Two

Another example of military aid was the Lend-Lease scheme enacted by America during World War Two. The US provided significant food, oil, and armaments to the United Kingdom, and then later to the Free French, Republic of China, and Soviet Union to help in their efforts against the Axis powers.

Lend-Lease is one of the largest and most successful military aid schemes in history. It is a prime example of a country providing military assistance to another to help it win a war. It is also an example of how countries use military aid to help other countries fight their joint enemies.

Between 1941 and 1945, 31.4 billion dollars in military aid went to the UK, 11.3 billion dollars to the Soviet Union, 3.2 billion dollars to France, 1.6 billion dollars to the Republic of China and a further 2.6 billion dollars to other allies.

The Lend-Lease scheme meant that allied countries were provided with warships, planes, and other military equipment. These were officially supposed to be returned to the United States after the war but in fact almost none were. Most of the military aid given was free, however, the US did receive free or discounted rent on airbases in allied countries after the war as a form of repayment.

Lend-Lease is one of the most important examples of military aid. It shows how military support from America significantly impacted the outcome of World War Two.

NATO Military Aid to the Afghan National Army

Following the attacks of 9/11 on the United States, the US enacted Article 5 of the NATO treaty. This meant NATO countries were obliged to assist the US in the invasion of Afghanistan that followed in October 2001.

Since the invasion, NATO has provided over three trillion dollars in military aid to the Afghan army and security services. This makes it one of the largest examples of military aid in history.

In order to help the Afghan army, police and security services fight the Taliban, NATO provided equipment, training and financial assistance. As an example of military aid, the NATO support to Afghanistan shows the range of help donor countries can provide as military assistance.

The majority of the military aid provided to Afghanistan by NATO was given by the United States, who provided extensive support to the Afghan security forces. However, other NATO countries provided training, support, and equipment.

The military assistance given by NATO to Afghanistan is another example of how countries can use military aid to help other countries address security challenges and threats. It is also an example of how countries use military aid to forward their own strategic interests.

US Assistance to Israel

Israel is one of the largest recipients of military aid in the world, almost all of it provided by the United States. In 2019, America provided 3.8 billion dollars in military aid to Israel.

US military assistance to Israel is one of the most important examples of military aid. America gives Israel funding, weapons, and training to help it achieve security. However, US military support for Israel is also an example of how military aid can be controversial, as many people disagree with how Israel uses the arms it receives.

Israel has received a total of 146 billion dollars in support from US since 1976. A large proportion of this aid is military assistance.

American support for Israel is an example of a country using military aid for its own benefit. The majority of the aid the US gives to Israel is spent on American goods and services, especially American made arms. American companies directly benefit from the aid the United States gives to Israel, and this one reason why the US gives so much military support.

United States military assistance to Israel is probably one of most commonly sighted, well-known and controversial examples of military aid.

French Military Assistance to Mali

In 2012, Islamicist militants in the north of Mali began moving south. As they began to threaten the capital Bamako, the Malian government called for external military assistance. As the former colonial power, France began providing military aid to Mali.

The French sent a force in Mali to directly fight the Islamicist insurgents alongside the Malian army. They also provided millions of Euros worth of military aid to the Malian army, including weapons, equipment, financial support, and training.

The assistance the French provided to Mali allowed for the militants to be pushed back from the capital. Since then, France has continued to have a military presence in Mali as well as provide significant military aid to the Malian government.

The support given by France to Mali is good example of military aid being given by a European country. The US is often seen as the main Western donor of military aid, but many European countries provide military assistance too.

France has key strategic interests in West Africa, and this is major reason they provided military assistance in Mali.

French Support in the American Revolutionary War

The American Revolutionary War, or the American War of Independence, was a conflict fought by thirteen American colonies that resulted in their independence from Great Britain and the creation of the United States. It was fought from 1775 – 1783.

France provided military aid to American forces during the War of Independence. It is one of the most important, and historically significant, examples of military aid in history.

In 1778, France signed the Treaty of Alliance with the rebelling colonies of America. This resulted in France providing military aid in the form of money, equipment, supplies, and troops. France’s military assistance is credited with playing a key role in the American victory in the Revolutionary War and in the independence of the United States.

The military aid France provided America during the Revolutionary War is a key example of military support being used by a donor country for political reasons. France and Great Britain had a long-standing rivalry and ongoing conflicts throughout this time and France saw providing military aid to the United States as a way to damage Britain.

France spent 1.3 billion Livres on supporting America during the revolutionary war. This is an example of how much money donor countries are willing to spend on military aid, if they see it as being in their interest.

Western Military Assistance to Ukraine

Following the 2014 Maidan protests in Ukraine that overthrew the pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, a conflict arose in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and government forces. Seeing this as Russian aggression, Western nations began providing extensive amounts of military aid to Ukraine.

The assistance given by European countries and America to Ukraine is prime modern example of military aid. No Western forces are directly fighting in Ukraine, but money, training and equipment is provided to the Ukrainian military in order to improve their capabilities.

European countries and America see the conflict in Ukraine as Russian expansionism. As a result, the military aid provided to Ukraine is another good example of countries using military assistance in-line with their own strategic objectives.

Since 2014, 125 million dollars has been provided to Ukraine in military aid. This means the military assistance program provided by the West is one of the largest examples currently ongoing.

At the same time as Western countries are providing military aid to the Ukrainian Government, Russia is providing assistance to the separatists in eastern Ukraine. The conflict in Ukraine is a good example of how two opposing countries can use military aid as part of a proxy-war.

American Military Aid to Colombia

The United States has been providing military aid to Colombia since the 1980s. Colombia has had two protracted conflicts in which the US takes an interest. The first is the War on Drugs – the fight against cartels and drug smugglers who move their produce into the United States. The second is against far-left rebel groups, such as the FARC, who wish to over through the Colombian government.

America provides tens of millions of dollars each year to Colombia to help its armed forces and security services fight both these enemies. The military aid given to Colombia by the US is a major example of a country using military assistance to help other nations achieve security, but also to allow other countries to fight conflicts that are in the donor countries strategic interests.

US military aid to Colombia is also one of the largest, and longest-running, examples of military aid.

America has provided Colombia with equipment, training, and expertise to help its army and police fight both the drug cartels and a range of left-wing armed rebel groups.

The military support provided by the United States to Colombia is also an example of how military aid can be controversial. There have been reports of US sponsored operations in Columbia committing human rights abuses.


Duncan is the founder of Humanitarian Careers. With over ten years experience in the aid industry across fifteen countries, Duncan set-up Humanitarian Careers to help people launch their own career in international aid.