Security Cooperation Workforce Certification Program off to strong start, adjusting to workforce needs

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by David A. Williams and Cathy VanderMaarel


Editor’s note: This article provides updates to an article in the Fall 2020 issue of AL&T magazine that is available at

In 2020, the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation (DASA (DE&C)) and Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) G-3/5 developed a plan of actions and milestones for the Army to implement the DOD Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) Certification Program in 2021. The most significant milestone was the Sept. 21, 2020, “ASA(ALT) Memorandum: Department of the Army Implementation of the DOD SCW Certification Program,” which outlined how the Army will implement the program.

On May 7, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy issued Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) 5132.15: “Implementation of the DOD Security Cooperation Workforce Certification Program.” The DODI formalized DOD implementation of the program and made a number of significant program policy changes. Army completed almost all of the requirements to institutionalize program implementation.


The May 7 DODI on the Security Cooperation Workforce Certification Program firmly establishes the program within DOD. The Army has made significant progress on program implementation as outlined in the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)) memorandum.

DODI 5132.15 made nine significant changes, and other changes, to the program that officially began on Jan. 1:

  1. Removed the Expert Security Cooperation Workforce Certification level. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency and the Defense Security Cooperation University concluded that the number of positions designated at the expert level did not merit this level of certification.
  2. Created two Security Cooperation Workforce Certification types: standard and executive. The director, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, concurred with Army’s recommendation to create a certification type (executive) focused on the unique requirements of general and flag officers, and Senior Executive Service personnel. This resulted in the creation of the standard certification type for non-executive positions.
  3. Established Standard Security Cooperation Workforce Certification levels (basic, intermediate and advanced). Basic level is for positions requiring a general understanding of security cooperation. Intermediate level is for positions requiring a working-level understanding of security cooperation in a security cooperation area of concentration. Advanced level is for positions requiring and advanced-level understanding in a security cooperation area of concentration.
  4. Established executive Security Cooperation Workforce Certification determination guidance, security cooperation training requirements, and security cooperation training credit deadline policy. Key security cooperation positions at or above the grade of GS-15 (or equivalent) or rank of O-6 are eligible for, but not required to be, designated at the executive certification type. A key security cooperation position qualifies as executive if its “focus is on a broad understanding of Security Cooperation and its strategic application to achieve defense and national security objectives.” Personnel in executive-level positions must obtain credit for the Defense Security Cooperation University’s Introduction to Security Cooperation (SC-101) and Security Cooperation Executive (EXEC-901) within three years of the DOD Instruction’s issue date (for those in the program on May 7, 2021 [the DODI issue date]) or within three years after entry into the program (for those in the program after the DOD Instruction issue date). The program automatically gives Security Cooperation Workforce members credit for EXEC-901 course if they completed it under any of the Defense Security Cooperation University’s predecessor names.
  5. Changed the sequential (basic, intermediate/executive and advanced) SC training and continuous learning deadline “clock” start date to May 7, 2021 (DODI issue date) for Security Cooperation Workforce members in the program on the DODI issue date. This results in the following SC training credit deadlines for these personnel: Basic – May 7, 2022; intermediate or executive – May 7, 2024; and advanced – May 7, 2026. The deadline for the first iteration of the recurring “20 hours of Continuous Learning hours every two years” is May 7, 2023, for these personnel.
  6. Changed the Security Cooperation Experience “clock” start date to Jan. 1, 2021 (program initiation) for Security Cooperation Workforce members in the program on May 7, 2021 (DODI issue date). These personnel will meet the certification program’s “1 year of Security Cooperation Experience” requirement on Jan. 1, 2022.
  7. Changed the SC experience policy exception. Security Cooperation Workforce members in the program on or before 12/31/2020 are granted the Security Cooperation Experience required by their position and are eligible for Security Cooperation Workforce certification(s) following SC training credit in designated areas of concentration and certification level(s).
  8. Established the sequential security cooperation training and continuous learning deadline “clock” start date and the security cooperation experience “clock” start date for Security Cooperation Workforce members entered into the program after May 7, 2021 (DODI issued date). The “clock” start date for these personnel is the “Date Position Assumed.”
  9. Established ‘Certificate of Equivalency’ eligibility criteria for Foreign Service nationals, locally employed staff, Military Personnel Exchange Program personnel, and private sector (aka government contractor) employees in direct support of DOD security cooperation programs and activities.


The Security Cooperation Workforce Certification Program is about more than just obtaining certification. The program also requires personnel to continue learning, much like the Defense Acquisition Workforce Certification Program. The program provides oversight of these requirements by mandating that Security Cooperation Workforce members remain ‘In Good Standing’ with the program.  A member is ‘In Good Standing’ with the program if they:

  1. Obtain credit for their position’s security cooperation training requirements by sequential deadlines. This is the ‘Security Cooperation Workforce Certification’ part. The deadlines are outlined above.
  2. Obtain credit for 20 hours of continuous learning hours every two years. This is the “continue to learn” part. Deadlines are outlined above.

As with Security Cooperation Workforce Certification and training oversight, the program also provides a means for commands and organizations to provide ‘In Good Standing’ oversight.


As soon as possible, the Defense Security Cooperation University will add a Continuous Learning Portal to their Certification Center to augment the existing automatic continuous learning credit from the completion of their courses or applicable Defense Acquisition University courses. The Continuous Learning Portal will provide a means for Security Cooperation Workforce to submit continuous learning credit requests to their supervisor and, if approved, automatically receive continuous learning credit.

Since approximately 25 percent of the Army Security Cooperation Workforce (about 1,000 personnel) are in acquisition-coded positions, it’s important to note that if Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Certification Program Continuous Learning is also “related to Security Cooperation,” these personnel can use those continuous learning points toward Security Cooperation Workforce Certification Program Continuous Learning credit.


The Army has identified more than 4,100 civilian and military security cooperation positions in over 50 commands and organizations throughout the Department of the Army. The Army leads the services in program implementation based on the establishment of Army-wide implementation policies and procedures; documentation and maintenance of complete and correct Security Cooperation Workforce Development – Database data; documentation and coding of certification requirements into security cooperation civilian position descriptions; coding in the Army Force Management System; creation of a series of certification-related Additional Skill Identifiers and Skill Identifiers; and other efforts.

DASA (DE&C), as Army’s Office of Primary Responsibility for the Security Cooperation Workforce Development Program and Certification Program, began awarding certification to eligible Army Security Cooperation Workforce members on a weekly basis in January 2021.

For Security Cooperation Workforce members awarded the certification level required for their position, DASA (DE&C) distributes memos to applicable command or organizational leadership (1) providing a list of Security Cooperation Workforce members awarded the certification required for their position and (2) requesting recognition of their achievement. DASA (DE&C) will award Security Cooperation Workforce Certification-related Additional Skill Identifiers and Skill Identifiers to soldiers awarded certification in the near future.

DASA (DE&C) is drafting Change 1 to the Army implementation memo—primarily based on DODI-related changes—and when completed, will begin the process of creating a Department of the Army Regulation and Pamphlet.

As with any new program, there is still much to learn, do, and overcome, but the Army is continuing its progress toward institutionalizing the development of a professional Security Cooperation Workforce to plan, execute, administer, monitor, assess and evaluate security cooperation programs and activities that advance theater, National Defense Strategy and National Security Strategy objectives.


Security Cooperation Workforce members can view their certification and training requirements and status in the Certification Center of the Defense Security Cooperation University website at The Training Report section of the Certification Center provides hyperlinks to course descriptions and registrations. All Defense Security Cooperation University instructor-led courses are being conducted virtually until further notice. When in-person instruction resumes, a virtual option is expected to be available.


For program information, policies and procedures go to Topics include, but are not limited to, Transfer Credit (legacy course and non-Defense Security Cooperation University course equivalencies), Constructive Credit (Test Out), and Frequently Asked Questions.

For more information on Army-specific security cooperation programs, go to (CAC-enabled) or contact the training team using the form at

DAVID A. WILLIAMS is the lead for Army Security Cooperation Workforce development and has worked in DASA (DE&C) since 2011. A retired U.S. Marine Corps officer, he has served in security cooperation positions since 2006. He holds a Master of Military Science from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College; a Master of International Relations from Troy University; and a B.S. in industrial distribution. He obtained Level II DOD International Affairs Certification and has been awarded Intermediate Level Security Cooperation Workforce Certification in the Security Cooperation Execution Support Area of Concentration. 

CATHY VANDERMAAREL is a career Army public affairs civilian, having started in the field in 2003. She has served as a public affairs strategist at DASA (DE&C) since March 2020. She holds a Master of Public Administration from Norwich University and a B.A. in communications from the University of South Carolina. She has completed the training requirements for the Intermediate Level Security Cooperation Workforce Certification in the Security Cooperation Execution Support Area of Concentration.   

Read the full article in the Summer 2022 issue of Army AL&T magazine. 
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