Security assistance through training and equipping partner nations

By Mr. Chuck Meixner


Security assistance through training and equipping partner nations contributes to regional and global stability, strengthens military support for democratically-elected governments, and limits the spread of transnational threats, including terrorism and trafficking in narcotics, weapons and people. Additionally, security assistance enables key allies and friends to improve their defense capabilities and foster closer military relationships. These relationships strengthen defense capabilities and promote U.S. interests around the world by preparing coalition partners and friendly foreign governments to work toward common security goals and share burdens in joint missions.

Increased military capabilities build and strengthen multilateral coalitions with the United States and enable friends and allies to be increasingly interoperable with regional, U.S. and NATO forces. By increasing demand for U.S. systems, security assistance also contributes to a strong U.S. defense industrial base, an important element of U.S. national defense strategy that reduces cost for DOD acquisitions and secures jobs for American workers.

Three key organizations —the U.S. Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization (USASATMO), the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC) and the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation (DASA(DE&C))—work as a team to build partner capacity, enable combatant commander strategies, and strengthen worldwide defense partnerships.


SATMO in Armenia
Trainers from USASATMO provide instruction to Armenian soldiers during a Warrior Leader Course conducted in Yerevan, Armenia, with support from the Kansas Army National Guard. (Photo courtesy of USASATMO)

USASATMO plans, forms, prepares, deploys, and sustains CONUS-based security assistance teams to conduct overseas security assistance training missions. USASATMO provides agile and flexible security cooperation teams in support of U.S Army campaign plans, U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives.

In February, USASATMO Soldiers deployed to Suriname to conduct a 12-day Small Unit Tactics Mobile Training Team (MTT) with the Suriname Army. The MTT served as advisers and trainers during a 12-day field exercise that focused on squad-level tactics and culminated in platoon-level field exercises. The MTT was embedded with the Surinamese Army, enabling the teams to quickly build rapport and make training much more efficient. After training concluded, Surinamese troops were more proficient in small unit tactics, including troop-leading procedures, tactical field care and map reading.

In late February and early March of this year, members from USASATMO and the Kansas Army National Guard teamed to lead a Warrior Leader Course at the Warrant Officer School in Yerevan, Armenia. The MTT condensed key lessons from the month-long U.S. Army Warrior Leadership Course into a one-week version for 46 privates and sergeants in the Armenian Army. This “lite” version of the course focused on basic leadership and soldier skills, and provided the Armenian soldiers a crucial step toward becoming better NCOs, with a better understanding of training management and warfighting skills.

Both of these recent USASATMO training missions improve defense postures and capabilities of partner nations and foster closer military relationships between the United States and partnering countries. USASATMO combines its capabilities with USASAC to further foster security assistance through training and equipping partner nations.

USASAC develops and manages security assistance programs and foreign military sales (FMS) cases to build partner capacity, support combatant command engagement strategies and strengthen U.S. global partnerships. USASAC relies on life-cycle management commands as well as other DOD agencies and U.S. industry for support. The sale of equipment to overseas customers includes the “total package” of quality materiel, facilities, spare parts, training, publications, technical documentation, maintenance support and other services that the U.S. Army Materiel Command provides to Army units.

inspection of the Kenyan Ranger Regiment Honor Guard

USASAC in Kenya
Maj. Gen. Del Turner, commanding general of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, conducts an inspection of the Kenyan Ranger Regiment Honor Guard, Kenyatta Barracks, as part of a recent United States Africa Command engagement. (Photo by Capt. David A. Weinreich)

For example, 25 M-35 trucks were sold through FMS grant funding in 2013 and delivered to the Philippine Army. Soon after, a typhoon struck the country and the M-35 trucks were an immediate asset used to deliver relief aid to citizens in remote areas of the country affected by the natural disaster. Following the relief efforts, the Philippine Army displayed interest in acquiring more vehicles through the Excess Defense Article program.

An environment of engagement also bolsters U.S. global partnerships. The USASAC commanding general holds global engagements designed to allow discussions regarding security assistance needs and current cases being developed and executed through the FMS process. The intent is to establish personal relationships between senior USASAC officials and our foreign partners. Many of the discussions center on the support provided by the National Defense Authorization Act Section 1206, which provides the Secretary of Defense the authority to train and equip foreign military forces for the specific purposes of counter-terrorism and stability operations.

FMS and continued engagements and discussions emphasize the benefits of USASAC’s military-to-military relationships in security assistance operations and foreign military sales. USASATMO and USASAC support to the security assistance mission are underpinned by support from DASA (DE&C). That organization engages with multiple leadership levels within the DOD concerned with security cooperation, and engages with partner nations to build relationships that are mutually beneficial.

instruction to Armenian soldiers

Support for the Philippines
M-35 trucks, sold through the Army’s FMS to the Philippine Armed Forces, are used to transport goods and personnel to remote areas of the country following Typhoon Haiyan. (Photo by United States Pacific Command Public Affairs Office)

Industrial base constituents and foreign allies are also key stakeholders in security cooperation activities, technology transfer and export policy matters. An example of this type of linking activity occurred in early February when Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Exports and Cooperation Ann Cataldo led a combined Army/DOD delegation to India. The purpose of the visit was to further security cooperation efforts, including a possible sale and co-development/co-production initiative with the Javelin anti-tank missile system. India is still considering initial procurement, co-production and co-development of Javelin and options were discussed to ensure the Indian government has enough information to make a decision for a possible future FMS case. The Director for India’s Defense Research and Development Organization confirmed India’s intent to renew the Master Research, Development, Test and Evaluation agreement needed to support future cooperative projects in the area of scientific research and technology development. Additional meetings were conducted with industry partners, including the U.S.-India Business Council, Raytheon, ATK and BAE to discuss the business environment in India, and learn what the U.S. Army can do to more effectively partner with India.

Cataldo also visited Malaysia on the same trip, and conducted a series of strategic engagements with the Malaysian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and its Army counterparts. Meetings with Malaysian defense officials included the Secretary General for MoD, Undersecretary for Policy in MoD, Chief of Army, and Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Planning and Development. After discussing our governments’ Master Data Exchange Agreement, Malaysian representatives expressed an interest in pursuing a cooperative opportunity to test the affects of a tropical environment on equipment performance and Soldier responsiveness (e.g., large amounts of rain, extreme heat and high humidity). Other potential research opportunities discussed include vaccine development and water purification and distribution. After examining displays at the Singapore Air Show and several brief test flights on a AH-6i Light Attack Reconnaissance helicopter, the MoD expressed interest in procuring the helicopter, and continued to show interest in procuring CH-47 Chinook helicopters and Stryker armored vehicles.

By combining the training capability of USASATMO advisers, the materiel deliveries by USASAC and the foundational work of DASA(DE&C), we can continue to build partner capacity, enable Global Combatant Commander strategies, and strengthen worldwide defense partnerships. Security assistance training and materiel deliveries promote regional stability, deter aggression, maintain alliances, enhance coalition partnerships and support the development of democratic values beneficial to the U.S and partner nation security.

Chuck Meixner is a security assistance specialist with the Strategy and Plans Directorate of DASA(DE&C). He can be reached at or 703-545-0712.