Implementing Security Cooperation Reform

Floyd Baker

Second of three installments from the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation (DASA (DE&C))

In response to complaints from commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan that the security cooperation program was too slow and cumbersome to respond to the urgent requirements of our friends and allies, the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) directed the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD(P)) to conduct a comprehensive review of security cooperation.

The Security Cooperation Reform Task Force conducted a series of workshops over a span of three months in late 2010 to look at a variety of areas including planning, workforce development, authorities, transportation, contracting, and technology security. The result was a set of more than 50 recommendations to improve the security cooperation process. The final report was approved by the SecDef in July 2011.

Among the recommendations, which ranged from improvements to the Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management curriculum to updating weight and cube information in the catalog system, four proposals stand out as major initiatives with the potential to dramatically improve the way we conduct our security cooperation business and improve support to our friends, partners, and allies in the future.


After looking at a variety of areas (top row), the Security Cooperation Reform Task Force developed a final report with more than 50 recommendations, including four proposed initiatives (bottom row) that could dramatically improve the way we conduct our security cooperation business and improve support to our friends, partners, and allies.

Special Defense Acquisition Fund
The authority to establish a Special Defense Acquisition Fund (SDAF) has existed since the 1980s; in fact, the fund allowed for procurement of more than $2 billion in assets before it was decapitalized in the mid-1990s due to budget pressures. The purpose of the SDAF is to procure high-demand, long-lead items in advance of customer requests so that the items will be available when needed instead of being lead-time away. Congress agreed in fall 2012 to recapitalize the fund with $100 million from the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) administrative trust fund. After reviewing recommended items from all three services, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) agreed with Army recommendations to fund the purchase of small arms, night vision devices, and body armor in the first tranche of SDAF.

Efforts are now underway to distribute the funds for these procurements, and the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation (DASA (DE&C)) is beginning to look at potential items for a second tranche that could be authorized later this year.

Defense Coalition Repair Fund
The SDAF is designed to obtain items from new procurement in anticipation of future sales. The Defense Coalition Repair Fund would allow for the repair and refurbishment of items already in the inventory, again in anticipation of future sales. The Army first submitted a legislative proposal to establish this fund in 2010. Concerns raised in the interagency staffing process over the proposed size of the fund and the length of authority led to the proposal being killed before it reached Congress.

A proposal modified to address those concerns was resubmitted last year and is now being reviewed by committee staffers on Capitol Hill. If it is included in this year’s legislative changes, the fund could be established as early as October 2012.

Expeditionary Requirements Generation Teams
The task force also determined that there was no process for performing capability package planning. This lack of planning support led to disjointed letters of request that focused on end-item procurement rather than development of a capability.

The resulting recommendation was to establish Expeditionary Requirements Generation Teams (ERGTs) that could travel on relatively short notice to assist countries and the U.S. Security Cooperation Office in identifying capability needs and requirements packages, in the form of letters of request, to meet those needs. The team would consist of members with varying expertise who could not only identify capability shortfalls, but also identify systems to meet those shortfalls quickly and affordably.

To date, ERGTs have been deployed to Bulgaria, Uzbekistan, and Iraq, with an Armenian-bound team and a second team to Iraq in the works. As a result of these teams’ work, 34 letters of request have been submitted by the host governments.

Compressed Rapid Acquisition, Fielding, and Training
The security assistance process was designed for a peacetime environment. Systems ordered through FMS typically take several years before final delivery of not only the end item, but also of related support and training, Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as efforts to challenge drug cartels south of our border, made clear the occasional need to respond in a much shorter timeframe. While there are provisions for expediting delivery under urgent circumstances, for example by diverting assets from a production line, there may be extreme circumstances when even these processes are insufficient.

To address these extreme contingencies, the task force recommended—and DSCA has developed—procedures for Compressed Rapid Acquisition, Fielding, and Training (CRAFT). If a requirement is identified as a potential CRAFT candidate, a Senior Steering Group consisting of members from DSCA, the Office of the USD(P), the Joint Staff, the Office of the USD for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, and the military departments will make a recommendation to the SecDef. The SecDef, in consultation with the Secretary of State, will then provide direction and authorization to use whatever means are necessary to expedite procurement, support, and training for the required system.

Together, these reforms will help make the security cooperation program more responsive to the ever-increasing demands of the 21st century, and a continued important tool in U.S. security and foreign policy.

NEXT: Strengthening Partnerships and Supporting the Defense Industrial Base

  • FLOYD BAKER works in the FMS Policy and Resources Directorate at DASA (DE&C). He has a B.A. in history and political science from Kent State University and an M.P.A. from the University of Dayton. Baker has worked in various international acquisition and security cooperation roles for the Army and Air Force for more than 20 years.