Chuck Meixner and Chris Mewett
Last of three installments from the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation (DASA (DE&C))
Recognizing the dual imperatives of building strong and capable partners to meet global security challenges and a need to adapt to the increasingly difficult fiscal environment facing DoD, the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation (DASA (DE&C)) is working to shape our security cooperation efforts in line with a more proactive approach called the Materiel Enterprise International Engagement Strategy (MEIES).
The intent of the MEIES is to move the Army’s relationship with partner nations from its traditional reactive footing to one in which partners’ capability gaps can be identified and materiel requirements anticipated well before equipment is needed on the ground. This approach can offer the ancillary benefit of providing greater stability and predictability to the acquisition community’s projections of international requirements—and by extension, to the domestic defense industrial base. The result is to allow for consolidated contracts, production-line sustainment, and economies of scale.
The development and implementation of the MEIES is divided into four main phases: assessing partner nation capabilities, determining appropriate materiel solutions, identifying potential policy roadblocks and working to address them, and communicating the Army’s recommended solutions.
The key to achieving this evolution in our security relationships is the creation and maintenance of comprehensive strategic assessments of partner nations. By developing a basic understanding of each country’s current capabilities, equipment, and level of engagement with the United States, analysts can better determine the most appropriate means to support the partner nation. Each report also includes an analysis of current capabilities and a projection of what materiel and/or training the country may need given specific contingencies, while taking into account the partner nation’s ultimate responsibility for determining its own requirements. DASA (DE&C) is currently compiling these assessments.
The next phase of the MEIES involves identifying appropriate materiel solutions to meet a partner nation’s projected capability gap. The strategy seeks to ensure that partner nations are prepared for the types of missions they may face, and highlights the Army’s assessment of which capability areas may be usefully supported with U.S. materiel solutions. Partner nations face a wide variety of security challenges—combating insurgencies, improving border security, responding to natural disasters, defending against external aggression, contributing to regional security organizations, and supporting coalition operations. U.S. equipment and training can help them address threats and accomplish missions across this operational spectrum, but it is important to match the right solution to each capability gap.
Identifying a possible materiel solution then allows DASA (DE&C) personnel to review policy for potential roadblocks to a materiel sale, such as technology transfer or foreign disclosure issues. DASA (DE&C) will work with project managers to identify exportable configurations of appropriate systems and gain an understanding of the authorizations and permissions that may be necessary for a sale. A proactive approach is key to ensuring that these concerns are addressed as far in advance of a sale as possible, either by expediting transfer or by leading the Army and the partner nation to find a more appropriate solution when submitting a Letter of Request.
With a solution identified and policy issues addressed, the final phase of the MEIES involves communicating the recommended solution to the partner nation through all available channels. Developing this engagement strategy provides a common baseline assessment for Combatant Commands, Theater Armies, and Country Teams to draw upon so as to present a unified voice when advocating solutions to these complex security challenges.
Moving toward the anticipatory footing outlined in the MEIES will allow the Army to face an uncertain future with confidence. As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “plans are nothing, [but] planning is everything.” By planning for the future of security cooperation, the Army can help to support partner nations with the most appropriate materiel and training solutions while achieving greater predictability in its own acquisition programs.
- CHUCK MEIXNER is a government employee with the DASA (DE&C) Strategy and Plans Directorate. He holds a B.S. in industrial studies from Moorhead State University and an M.S. in information systems from Strayer University. Meixner is Level III certified in international affairs.
CHRIS MEWETT is a support contractor with General Dynamics Information Technology Inc. in the DASA (DE&C) Strategy and Plans Directorate. He studied history at Texas A&M University and central and eastern European studies at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.