Operationalizing the Capability Package Planning Model (CPPM) – The proposal process Part 2: The Request

As an African OSC you will continuously go through one of the following scenarios:

#1: The partner nation request

Imagine that you have recently arrived as the new OSC in a given country. During your first meeting with the Chief of Defense, he presents you with a formal written request for assistance with his military’s logistical shortcomings regarding a current deployment on a peace support operation (PSO). Hopefully, you do not promise anything other than to research the request and seek your Ambassador’s guidance. As you walk out of the headquarters, your previous combat deployments flash back into your mind. You compare your experiences to that of the partner nation’s. You think to yourself – if logistics is what is needed then logistics is what I’ll get them!

As you drive back to your office you realize:

1)    As a U.S. Army Officer, your only logistical experience is when you were an infantry company executive officer. You know how to request what a company needs; but you lack the experience in Building Partner Capacity (BPC) and developing Foreign Security Forces (FSF) at the Executive Decision (ED), Generating Force (GF) and Operating Force (OF) levels.

2)    You also lack detailed knowledge of the environment in which the host nation’s logistical forces are operating.

3)    The Chief of Defense requested to improve his logistical capabilities. What does that entail?

First of all, let’s step back from the scenario and look at the overall situation you are in. It is important when dealing with Security Cooperation and Security Assistance to know the academia and the policy concerns.  You work in a U.S. Embassy, welcome to diplomacy.

#2: The Combatant Command request

Imagine that you have recently arrived as the new OSC in a given country. During your first week, your desk officer sends you an email telling you it is time to update the country cooperation plan’s (CCP) country level objectives (CLO) and identify capability gaps and packages for the upcoming RSWG. Hopefully, you have read your CCP and reviewed this during your recent TDY to Stuttgart. However, more than likely as you read the email the previous training during ILE, IRT, and DISCS flashes back into your mind. You call your desk officer and begin to talk about the fact you’ve only been there for three weeks and haven’t had time to unpack your clothes little alone conduct an updated analysis of the capability gaps of the partner nations military. After hanging the phone up, you think to yourself – if an update to the CCP is what is needed then that is what I’ll get them!

As you sit in your office you realize:

1)    As a U.S. Army Officer, you’ve never read nor do you know what a Theater Campaign Plan is. You are a Major, recently working at the tactical level only.  Now they want you to determine what your partner nation needs at the Executive Decision (ED), Generating Force (GF) and Operating Force (OF) levels.

2)    You lack detailed knowledge of the host nation’s forces.

3)    The Combatant Command requested these products by next week.  It takes three weeks to get permission even to visit a base in your country.  You email the previous OSC and get a vacation out of office email.

First of all, let’s step back from the scenario and look at the overall situation you are in. Hopefully, you and your SDO/DATT are not arriving at the same time.  Talk to them before stressing too much.  You work in a U.S. Embassy but also work for a Combatant Command, welcome to the world of dealing with two bosses.

#3: The Department of State request

After you fully develop the CPPM, you should look for ways to integrate Title 22 programs into the overall model.  You will receive call out cables from the Department of State straight into your inbox.  Part 3 will address some recommended ways to exploit and integrate their programs into the CPPM fully.

The Capability Package Planning Model (CPPM): Where’s the Checklist?

DASD Ross included in his article’s title the sub phrase: “A Model for Capability Package Planning.” He also said in the article that “this model is intended not to dictate a step-by-step checklist for planners but rather to shape thinking about how to plan security cooperation activities in the practical context.” His attempt to provide a model and not provide a checklist is admirable, as he is purposefully allowing space for planners to adjust to the situation on the ground.  However, his design is so sophisticated and includes so many subsets of requirements that for security cooperation planners to operationalize his model a checklist to some extent must be made. Also, the planners he’s targeting to execute his model [in Africa] do not have the staffs, knowledge, or training required to think through how to adjust this model to their partner nation’s requirements. Military members love checklists, so this blog will try to fill in the gaps that DASD Ross has purposefully not filled.

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The Assessment

The DASD outlines five areas for consideration when assessing a partner nation when considering a CCPM.  I prefer the word analyze here, but assess works as well.

Primary areas:

  1. the provider nation’s strategic objectives to be addressed (AFRICOM TCP Line of Effort)
  2. the extent to which a partner nation’s defense strategy is aligned with the provider’s strategy (Partner Strategic Objectives)
  3. the extent to which a partner nation is committed to building a particular military capability (Partner Will / Support)
  4. the extent to which a partner nation has the capacity to absorb proposed assistance (Absorptive Capacity)
  5. the risks associated with a potential capability-building investment. (Risk Analysis)

His article gives broad but detailed enough explanations of these questions that an OSC should understand where he is going.  However, the partner nation you are assigned to will determine how easy or hard your answer to his questions are.  Some will write the CCPM for you if you ask, others may be suspicious of all the questions you are asking. Your diplomatic skills will need to kick in to get the information required for the CCPM.

The biggest part of assessing the request is determining if the partner nation’s request aligns with one of the AFRICOM’s Lines of Effort.  If it does, then great move forward.  If it doesn’t then you need to talk with your boss about how to convey the US government’s non-support for the request. It’s entirely possible they asked you to buy them an entire fleet of C-130Js, or Abrams tanks, or they just need assistance in parts distribution and accountability.  However, don’t just ignore the request, send it up to AFRICOM and let the combatant command be the decision maker.  You as the OSC should provide the U.S. Embassy’s perspective (which includes the SDO and Ambassador’s thoughts).

The problematic areas in Africa: Support, Will, Absorption, and Risk

[This series, due to its open internet nature, will not address policy concerns you will have to navigate during this phase.]

As an OSC in Africa, you will live this quote. “Partners may be strategically misaligned with providers when strategic guidance is absent or incomplete, when there are widely divergent assessments of core threats, or when partners seek fundamentally incompatible solutions to threats that are mutually identified and prioritized.” This is where your cultural skills, you hopefully learned during IRT, come into play.  Personally, I believe it is not the question you are asking in Africa; it is how or why you are asking it that matters.

Matters in Africa are incredibly relationship centric and very systematic.  Telling your partner nation that you need to assess their military to develop a CCPM might get you thrown out of an office.  Think about the cultural faux pax aspects of that request. A U.S. military Major (or LTC) just told [more than likely] a Colonel (or GO) they need to access their army.  That is the same as you walking into the Chief of Staff of the United States Army and telling GEN Milley you have arrived to solve his problems.  Some of the countries will look past your cultural issues because they know the OSC brings money, support, equipment – i.e., the capacity they lack.  Others won’t.

You will more than likely always get support in developing a capacity package from the partner nation.  Why wouldn’t you? When you don’t, then you know that the partner country may not be aware of their capability gaps.  At the same time when you get an easy yes, you should proceed with a little caution.  The DASD’s article does an excellent job of outlining the obstacles and hard lessons learned from previous partner nations concerning partner buy in, and sustaining the U.S. investment.  These should all be taking into consideration as guidance. However, realistically, there are significant differences culturally between how the U.S. military maintains items and how other militaries do.

We buy a new Stryker for $3.8M and spend probably $20M over the next thirty years supporting that piece.  African armies will just let the piece die a real death as a road sign on the side of the road, and buy a new one, or have you give them a new one.  There is something to be said about the cost savings of this approach.  Other African militaries will drive a vehicle (and a fleet) into the ground using every single part available to keep a few vehicles moving.  What they lack in budgets, their soldiers make up in innovation.  The tyranny of distance applies here.  The capability gap also applies.  I cringe every time I hear someone say “they can’t maintain their vehicles.” They can’t, or they won’t, or their leaders don’t won’t them to, or we’ve given them something that they could never have had the capacity to maintain, or we think a rusted out truck that wobbles a bit means they aren’t maintaining it. The Sahel and Somalia are ridden with Ford F350s rusting because the partner nation can’t support them, and we wonder why. They “can’t” maintain them because there is not a Ford dealership down the dirt road where they can get parts.  Not because they cannot conduct maintenance procedures.

One approach to assessments is to ask the Service Components (US Army Africa, US Naval Forces Africa, or US Air Forces Africa) to send a two to three person team to your country who specialize in the area of the request (Logistics, C-IED, ISR, etc.).  Your AFRICOM J5 desk officer can assist in this request and work with the components to apply for and fund the team’s TDY.  You need to do a little bit of homework first and broadly scope out what you need these specialists to do.  Also, keep in mind their assessment will be from a U.S. military perspective, they may quickly get overwhelmed by the culture shock of what or how the partner nation is conducting its activities.  This is where your understanding of AFRICOM and its Components planning cycles is important – they can’t get this team out to you in less than 90 days, so you need to start thinking about next year’s requests – this year.  For this year’s request hopefully, the previous OSC already did some form of assessment or gave you trip reports or other assessments previously conducted. That way all you have to do is verify the capability gap with the partner nation and update the assessment.

The last piece on assessing the DASD’s article doesn’t address that you, as an African OSC, should be concerned primarily with is – What will the effect of introducing a U.S. centric CPPM be on the partner nation?  What the DASD doesn’t mention is that the partner nations probably can sustain or absorb other supporting countries assistance, but incorporating U.S. support and its equipment is extremely challenging and expensive for them.  As you build the CPPM, part of it could be an assessment of our strategic international partner’s contributions to capability gaps the U.S. has in assisting our African partners, and how to synchronize our efforts with theirs.

At the RSWG or STRWG be prepared to answer the question: Can they absorb this?  The person asking this will be an OSD (P) or DoS person who probably already knows the answer.  The real question they may be asking is: Can you, as the OSC, absorb this and be the conductor of this symphony? You may not ever understand it, but you are part of the system, and your abilities (or lack thereof) are also a part of the CPPM.  If the conductor can’t conduct, then let’s not waste our money on the show.  We have a lot of money, and there are a lot of “shows” to see.

You need to think about your “elevator speech” concerning risk for your partner nation.  For some there are minimal issues, others it’s like rolling the dice.  Don’t go overboard, and don’t under sell.  Remember, the civilians know your country and have been following it for years if not decades.  This is where knowing how the capability gap will make an operational or strategic difference matters. This is also where if you’ve fully developed the CPPM the policy makers are more comfortable with your package.  No one wants to waste our tax payer’s dollars.  Be prepared to answer the question: What is the result if we do not fund this? Keep it short, to the point, and memorize it beforehand.

Requirements Synch Working Group (RSWG)

At this point you should be able to answer all the questions the RSWG call out message asked you, if you read the homework and this article.

  1. Lines of Effort with End States (Not your job to update)
  2. Intermediate Military Objectives (IMO) with Effects (You can influence here)
  3. Country Level Objectives with Inherited Effects (You should own this)
  4. Updated Strategic Requirements (Not your job to update)
  5. Most recent Country SFA assessment (You should highly influence this)
  6. Select Capability Areas for each Designated Partner (You should own this)
  7. Create a Capability Package title and narrative (You should own this)

As an African OSC, you will continuously go through the same cycle of planning conferences each year: the RSWG, STRWG, and SCETWG. For some OSCs, these conferences are like being put in front of a firing squad of questions to which they weren’t prepared for.  For others, they come in and become the conductor of a symphony.  When you are at the “WGs” (Wigs) you and your desk officer are writing your OERs or at least a portion of them.  Referencing the reputation sections mentioned in previous posts the WGs are reputation builders or destroyers.  Do your homework, write your talking points for yourself, and put some black paint on under your eyes.  The WGs are your Super Bowl three times a year. It will show if you are not prepared.

In conclusion, it’s time to go back to the original request, which through your analysis meets AFRICOM’s strategic requirements – your partner nation’s capability gap and CPPM will focus on their logistics capability gaps. The next post will return to the checklist and the what and how of the CCPM.  You should review the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) before reading the remaining posts.

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