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Sofa Military Acronym

Sofa Military Acronym

In many host nations, especially those with a large foreign military presence such as South Korea and Japan, the SOFA can become a major political issue following crimes allegedly committed by servicemembers. This is especially true when the incidents involve crimes such as robbery, murder, manslaughter or sex crimes, especially when the charge is defined differently in the two nations. For example, in 2002 in South Korea, a U.S. military AVLB bridge-laying vehicle on the way to the base camp after a training exercise accidentally killed two girls. Under the SOFA, a United States military court martial tried the soldiers involved. The panel found the act to be an accident and acquitted the service members of negligent homicide, citing no criminal intent or negligence. The U.S. military accepted responsibility for the incident and paid civil damages. This resulted in widespread outrage in South Korea, demands that the soldiers be retried in a South Korean court, the airing of a wide variety of conspiracy theories, and a backlash against the local expatriate community. As of 2011, American military authorities are allowing South Korea to charge and prosecute American soldiers in South Korean courts. After three brutal rapes and an arson case in 2011, convictions in South Korean courts occurred. The soldiers are, or will soon be, jailed in South Korean facilities. Soon after the rapes and other instances, the peninsula wide military curfew was reinstated.
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Sofa Military Acronym

A SOFA is intended to clarify the terms under which the foreign military is allowed to operate. Typically, purely military operational issues such as the locations of bases and access to facilities are covered by separate agreements. A SOFA is more concerned with the legal issues associated with military individuals and property. This may include issues such as entry and exit into the country, tax liabilities, postal services, or employment terms for host-country nationals, but the most contentious issues are civil and criminal jurisdiction over bases and personnel. For civil matters, SOFAs provide for how civil damages caused by the forces will be determined and paid. Criminal issues vary, but the typical provision in U.S. SOFAs is that U.S. courts will have jurisdiction over crimes committed either by a servicemember against another servicemember or by a servicemember as part of his or her military duty, but the host nation retains jurisdiction over other crimes.
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Sofa Military Acronym

A status of forces agreement (SOFA) is an agreement between a host country and a foreign nation stationing military forces in that country. SOFAs are often included, along with other types of military agreements, as part of a comprehensive security arrangement. A SOFA does not constitute a security arrangement; it establishes the rights and privileges of foreign personnel present in a host country in support of the larger security arrangement. Under international law a status of forces agreement differs from military occupation.
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Sofa Military Acronym

However, most crimes by servicemembers against local civilians occur off duty, and in accordance with the particular SOFA are considered subject to local jurisdiction. Details of the SOFAs can still prompt issues. In Japan, for example, the SOFA includes the provision that service members are not turned over to the local authorities until they are charged in a court. In a number of cases, local officials have complained that this impedes their ability to question suspects and investigate the crime. American officials allege that the Japanese police use coercive interrogation tactics and are concerned more with attaining a high conviction rate than finding “justice”. American authorities also note the difference in police investigation powers, as well as the judiciary. No lawyer can be present in investigation discussions in Japan, though a translator is provided, and no mention made of an equivalent to America’s Miranda rights. Another issue is the lack of jury trials in Japan, previous to 2009 all trials were decided by a judge or panel of judges. Currently, Japan uses a lay judge system in some criminal trials. For these reasons American authorities insist that service members be tried in military tribunals and reject article 98 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
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Sofa Military Acronym

The political issue of SOFAs is complicated by the fact that many host countries have mixed feelings about foreign bases on their soil, and demands to renegotiate the SOFA are often combined with calls for foreign troops to leave entirely. Issues of different national customs can arise – while the U.S. and host countries generally agree on what constitutes a crime, many U.S. observers feel that host country justice systems grant a much weaker set of protections to the accused than the U.S. and that the host country’s courts can be subject to popular pressure to deliver a guilty verdict; furthermore, that American servicemembers ordered to a foreign posting should not be forced to give up the rights they are afforded under the Bill of Rights. On the other hand, host country observers, having no local counterpart to the Bill of Rights, often feel that this is an irrelevant excuse for demanding special treatment, and resembles the extraterritorial agreements demanded by Western countries during colonialism. One host country where such sentiment is widespread, South Korea, itself has forces in Kyrgyzstan and has negotiated a SOFA that confers total immunity to its servicemembers from prosecution by Kyrgyz authorities for any crime whatsoever, something far in excess of the privileges many South Koreans object to in their nation’s SOFA with the United States.
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Sofa Military Acronym

List of initialisms, acronyms (“words made from parts of other words, pronounceable”), and other abbreviations used by the government and the military of the United States. Note that this list is intended to be specific to the United States government and military—other nations will have their own acronyms.
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Sofa Military Acronym

In 2004, as tasked by DoD, MHNGS sent the first team of 20 consultants to Germany. The MFLCs’ mission was to augment existing support to active military troops and their families through the provision of non-medical counseling services geared toward short term problem resolution.
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Sofa Military Acronym

To many U.S. observers, the fact that most accused criminals eventually end up being tried in a local court and found guilty proves that the system is working; to some host country observers, it reinforces the perception that the SOFA protects the guilty and makes the exceptions more glaring.

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