Operationalizing the Capability Package Planning Model (CPPM) – The proposal process Part 4: The Approval Process

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In Part 1 of this series, I outlined four things using this method will allow you to do:

  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;
  4. Decrease legacy issues that routinely result from inadequate project design.

Then I went on to highlight four main 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 CPPM?

This last part of the series will focus on the latter four.  First, if you haven’t read the recent report from the Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press titled “Building Partner Capacity in Africa: Keys to Success,” August 2017, stop and go read at a minimum the second and fourth chapters.  Both of these are written by senior African FAOs, and they both provide a stark but honest assessment of the current condition concerning U.S. Security Cooperation and Assistance in Africa.  Throughout the rest of this blog unless specified the quotes I use will be from this publication, and some of the figures are from DASD Thomas’ article.

Capability Package Planning Model (CPPM) – Time to execute the plan

Looking back on DASD Thomas’ CPPM Figure 4 and notice three things that are a continuous part of the cycle: Assessment, Sequencing, and Sustainment.  Also, notice there is an arrow pointing left as well as right.  If your CCPM is developed for five years, or the typical Theater Campaign Plan cycle, then every year before every RSWG you should go back to the CPPM and review it. Start with assessing where you are, look at the required events that need to be submitted in time for execution, sequence them; and then look for any gaps in sustainment of equipment or training that were highlighted by events conducted in the previous year.

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Next, keep the following four quotes in mind from the BPC article:

“The United States has a reputation of promising much, assessing more, and delivering very little; thus the emphasis [from the partner nation] is on the tactical level of capability generation as partners concentrate on what they can obtain from the United States through short-term transactional engagements.”

“He suggests that U.S. efforts tend to fail when designed and implemented by those with the ‘big plan,’ those he calls ‘planners’ who focus on the ‘delivery model,’ whereas efforts that tend to succeed occur when projects are designed and implemented by those he calls ‘searchers,’ who create sustainable solutions by adapting to local conditions, understanding what really works at the ground level, and creating dynamic feedback mechanisms with those in receipt of goods and services.” (In reference to William Easterly, The White Man’s Burden)

“This finding mirrors the judgments of a 2009 USAWC study, which concluded that GCC staffs do not have the expertise or resources to develop comprehensive, cross-functional engagement plans because of an inability to tap into a trained and ready pool of subject matter experts.”

“A sustainable solution means that after the assistance program ends, if the partner nation can self-generate the resources and capability to maintain, or even expand upon, the original program intent, then a sustainable solution exists.”

The BPC article may claim that efforts in Africa to institutionalize capabilities into a capacity over time are not possible in Africa, for the reasons above and much more. I will not argue for or against their finding, other than to say that the changes the article requires are years away and require more significant shifts in our Security Cooperation and Assistance cultures and laws than the changes the 2017 NDAA brought.  Until then you as an OSC will continue to get the same three types of requests year after year. Why not try to synchronize them using the CPPM and hope that through better synchronization and better training overtime our efforts will prove fruitful?


You will hear Security Cooperation practitioners talk about the patchwork of programs available.  The below slide I captured from a recent presentation explains this very well.

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Take the time to read through the Security Cooperation Programs manual you received in DISCS again and now look back on your CPPM.  If you haven’t already you should identify the following things about the programs you have chosen:

  1. When is the call out message for the program?
  2. When is the proposal or concept sheet due?
  3. How long does it take to get approved?
  4. What agency or Component executes it?
  5. What is the maximum amount of funding it allows?
  6. What does that funding allow (training, familiarization, PKO, etc.)
  7. How much control over the scope of the program do you have, the partner nation, or the Component or agency charged with executing it?
  8. How can one program influence the other, and what is required from another program to affect the other?
  9. How can you use Senior Leader Engagements to assess and develop the CPPM? (future blog topic)

The key here to understand is T22 takes less time and is more flexible, but is less money.  T10 takes longer and is more rigid, but is an astronomical amount of money.

Your Staff

Often as an OSC, you will have several different bosses; it wasn’t until my second year as an OSC that I realized to change the relationship and instead of working for all the agencies and organizations – make them work for you.  Before you can do this, you will have to spend some time to understand the graphic below, and what the lines mean. You should have a broad knowledge of the role DSCA, SAF-IA, Navy IPO, USACE, USASAC (and SATMO), AFRICOM, USARAF, NAVAF, AFAF, and MARFORAF can be involved or already is involved in your country.  Not mentioned in the graph is DLIELC, DTRA, MEDCOM, and many others.  The point here is – don’t get overwhelmed – each one of these commands has hundreds of people you can reach out to.  Use them.

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Cycles and Funding Streams

Your CPPM depends on synchronization over a 5-year period.  Your biggest obstacles in this will be:

  1. OSC change over (solution: continuity plan and books) (future blog topic)
  2. The partner nation (coups, CHoD change, Leahy issues, etc.) (solution: you can’t control these – don’t fall in love with the plan and just deal with it)
  3. Commander and SDO change over and change in priorities (solution: if you build a good CPPM and have partner nation buy and written agreements then more than likely it will survive the revolving door effect of our military leaders)
  4. Ambassador change over and change in priorities (solution: if you have to start drawing or slowing down the CPPM it is best to postpone things if you can, but at the end of the day the Ambassador will win – don’t fall in love with the plan)
  5. The STRWG proposals: preparation, Super Bowl time baby, approval, priority (solution: build in a delay in a year to the main train and equips and your CPPM will survive the “tranches”)
  6. Component buy-in or not (a solution: contract everything, but maybe not the best one)

French or British?  How to integrate into their systems or vice versa

“Partnering with the African states sponsoring the regional schools [France] provides a central injection point for assistance and knowledge.” I’ll cover this in a future blog because there are so many areas we could be integrated into our other strategic partners in Africa, but we aren’t.  There is a significant amount of movement towards achieving interoperability of U.S. Security Cooperation, French Defence Cooperation, and British Defence Engagement in Africa.

The CPPM focuses on capability – what about capacity?

“Turning a capability, the ability to perform a mission or function at a discrete point in time, into a capacity, the ability to perform a mission or function over time, is dependent on institutionalization of knowledge and skills inside the partner defense systems.”  If you want to build capacity with your partner nation, you need to focus on the Generating Force portion of your CPPM.  Nowhere else will you influence the capability gap over time and institute the changes required in the DOTMLPF-P spectrum. Nowhere else will you move the capability forward even with the restraints the US Army War College BPC article outlined.

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If you follow the guidance given in these four post you shouldn’t have a problem with any of your proposals being approved.  Do the work, know your country, and be prepared to answer the hard questions.  Be an African OSC.

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