Operationalizing the Capability Package Planning Model (CPPM) – The proposal process Part 1

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Operationalizing the Capability Package Planning Model (CPPM) – The proposal process Part 1: Introduction, Gaps, and Homework


One of the seven functions the Foreign Assistance Act tasked OSCs with executing is evaluation and planning of the host government’s military capabilities and requirements. Every year as an African OSC you will encounter the same planning cycle for Security Force Assistance proposals from the Combatant Command, which is a year-long process.  You will also experience the same planning cycle for Security Assistance proposals from the Department of State; however, their cycle is relatively short and does not require as much of your effort from an OSC. Unfortunately, you have PCS’d during the summer and the Combatant Command’s planning cycle has more than likely just begun a few weeks before or a few weeks after you arrive.

Up to this point as a Foreign Area Officer trainee you have attended ILE which should have expanded your understanding of the operational and strategic portions of our military; then on to IRT where you hopefully studied in depth the regional and cultural issues in Africa; and lastly, you went to DISCS where you expanded your knowledge of Africa and the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process.  Over the past three years, you have been exposed to chunks of the problem set you are about to manage.  It is time now to synchronize and use all this training.

This series intends to provide suggestions on how to develop a successful capability package for your partner nation using the Capability Package Planning Model (CPPM).  This series will do this using the military decision-making process to develop the CPPM and subsequently the proposals and concept sheets required to execute it. Using this method will allow you to: 1) identify the desired effect that fulfills the capability gap / package; 2) achieve the desired operational, generating, or executive level results through proposal design; 3) increase the potential for proposal approval; and lastly 4) decrease legacy issues that routinely result from inadequate project design.

The following series will cover four areas:

  1. The Proposal Process Part 1: Introduction, Gaps, and Homework
  2. The Proposal Process Part 2: The Request
  3. The Proposal Process Part 3: Mission Analysis
  4. The Proposal Process Part 4: The Approval Process

You are now a Conductor, a Beachmaster, and a Program Manager all in one

The OSC is the conductor of the CPPM; the OSC, the many desk officers, and component planners are the writers; your sheet music is the CPPM and its proposals and concept sheets; and the military departments, component command’s assigned units, and your partner nation are the musicians.  This is a complex endeavor with many parts and many players.  The success of a Capability Package Planning Model (CPPM) depends on multiple aspects aligning correctly through time and circumstances. From equipment availability and timely arrival to executing training efficiently to partner nation buy in and participation, to the sands of the Sahel as they shift so regularly – a successful CPPM starts with the design and writing phase.

Often, as an OSC you will be challenged by shortened timelines to prepare adequately, research, and write proposals. I was told once that I had two hours to turn “something in.” I chose to implement the approach of the phrase “an emergency on your part does not equate to an emergency on my part,” which ended up with an email to my Ambassador, who then actually walked down the hall to my office and asked me why I wasn’t turning anything in. When an Ambassador physically walks in your office, it is never good. I turned something in because their emergency now had become my emergency.  That proposal actually was funded and executed, and it did not meet the Capability Package Planning Model (CPPM) requirements. This resulted in multiple issues for me to solve the next year.  Therefore, this series also hopes to identify ways to overcome the problem sets the CPPM brings to African OSCs:

  1. The single area where African OSC’s fail is in writing and developing proposals.
  2. With limited training and limited budgets, is the OSC the right person to solely develop Capability Packages proposals?
  3. Are the cycles of the funding streams available to African OSCs helpful or hurtful?
  4. Are the restrictions on what individual programs can or cannot do hindrances to accomplishing the CCPM?

Let the deep dive begin…

More and more the United States’ Department of Defense and State’s budgets are reduced and scrutinized. Therefore, it is imperative that we use the spectrum of our security cooperation (SC) programs efficiently to achieve the effects our leaders require in support of our partner nations. It is equally important that our partner countries also perceive our efforts not as gifts or donations, but rather as investments in their abilities to assist in achieving our common strategic goals. However, “based on years of security assistance delivery, the U.S. Government has concluded that if the aim has been to develop sustained and effective African capacity to tackle security and justice challenges, then the traditional approach for providing security assistance has been incomplete.” http://cco.ndu.edu/PRISM-6-4/Article/1171855/the-security-governance-initiative/

It is fundamental to remind ourselves that some of our partner nations do not have the capacity and capability advantages that the U.S. Military has over our shared enemies. In contrast, our partners likely are at a relative disadvantage in these areas against our common strategic enemies. Two constant complaints from our host countries in Africa are that the U.S. Defense acquisition system takes too long and is too cumbersome to navigate. Most often than not the U.S. military’s capability gaps are identified, analyzed, and debated five to twenty years out; whereas some of our partner nations are facing these deficiencies months out. We are planning to plan, and they are reacting to their realities on the ground. In many circumstances, our differing acquisition systems, and the expectations from those systems could not be more disparate.

As an OSC it is always important to understand the tyranny of distance and time in Africa, from your desk to OSD(P)’s desk, and the distance from the Embassy to the partner nation’s headquarters. Basically, the distance from the United States to Africa is as long as the distance from your desk to your partner nations desk across town. The key here is that you are the single point between those two distances. You must understand the perspective of each of these points, as your proposal must go through all of them. Words matter.

Before you continue to read this series, it is required that you first read OSD(P) DASD for Security Cooperation Thomas W. Ross’ article in the Joint Force Quarterly 80, 1st Quarter 2016, titled “Enhancing Security Cooperation Effectiveness A Model for Capability Package Planning.” This entire series is built upon operationalizing the guidance given in this article.


I suggest you contemplate on the following quotes:

  1. “Too often, U.S. military capacity-building efforts have failed to deliver sustainable, effective partner capabilities that truly ease operational burdens on U.S. forces. In a time of fiscal austerity, the Department of Defense must examine how it can do better with the limited resources available.”
  2. “To set the stage for a CPPM, we must first define what we mean when we discuss a military capability.”
  3. “The CPPM is built upon the assertion that focusing on the right capability to build is half the battle.”
  4. “Capability building programs will have the greatest strategic value to the extent they focus on building partner nation capabilities that directly support the provider’s strategic national security interests.”
  5. “This article defines military capability as an ability to achieve a specific military operational objective that is supported, enabled, and sustained by all relevant defense systems at the institutional, strategic, operational, and tactical levels.”
  6. “What is needed is a range of engagements, including both short-term and long-term programs; activities targeting single individuals, small units, and broader audiences; and efforts requiring more and less intensive activities.”

Next read the AFRICOM Theater Campaign Plan, if you haven’t already, and understand the definition of the following phrases: Line of Effort, Intermediate Military Objective, Country Level Objective, Security Cooperation, Security Assistance, Security Force Assistance, Exercises, Operations, Engagements, Posture, Presence, Agreements, Executive Directive, Generating Force, and Operating Force.

Lastly, thumb through the Theater Campaign Planning Planner’s Handbook February 2012, https://community.apan.org/wg/usarpac_g5_tsccp/m/ascpc/128457. Specifically, Chapter 3 has some relevant information.


Now that you are worn out mentally, read your Integrated Country Strategy and your Country Coordination Plan.

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