Four Suggestions for the New DSCA Director

Never before has a Foreign Area Officer commanded such a position with so much experience during such a critical time in our nation’s strategic environment. The National Defense Authorization Acts of 2016 and 2017 outlined the need for significant changes in the Department of Defense’s Security Cooperation activities. Congress placed these new requirements on the DoD because of the shift in the significance of Security Cooperation in our National Defense Strategy. Phase 0 has become more and more critical over the years, yet Phase 1 through 5 are more comfortable for our military to execute. Phase 0 requires more strategic thinking and more strategic planning. This paper suggests four areas where the Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) can improve the effects the pseudo-FMS system strives to achieve. These four areas are: 1) Change the tranche system: 2) Pre-position equipment; 3) Implement DASD Thomas’ CCPM model; 4) Security Cooperation University: Teach Campaign Planning.

Change the tranche system

DoD notifies Congress of Pseudo-FMS proposals, the Section 333 (previously 1206/2282), through the “tranche system.” The Office of Secretary of Defense Policy (OSD(P)) and Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict (OSD (SOLIC)) work together to develop the “J Book” and then notify Congress every two to three months throughout the year based upon increments of funding. This system could be compared to biting the elephant one fly bite at a time.

DoD Security Force Assistance has become political, and policymakers have taken over the narrative of the purpose, to their credit, to ensure funding. However, this has created a middleman system where programmers at the Combatant Command game the system to ensure the proposals that are “fully baked” or capability packages that are difficult to accomplish through the pseudo-FMS system are moved to the front of the tranches. For example, aviation proposals are pushed ahead of others to the front to ensure the project can be achieved within the constraints of the pseudo-FMS system – one year obligation period. Strategic implications have been sidelined to allow for enough time to implement a proposal through the pseudo-FMS system. The effect no longer matters compared to moving something through the system. If it is too hard to go through the system, we don’t do it, even if it is the right thing to do. We half bake proposals to get them approved by policymakers then rush these proposals through DSCA for programming to meet the obligation requirements. Crap in equates to crap out.

The title of this paragraph is misleading. Is it not the role of the Director of the DSCA to change the tranche system; however, he can profoundly influence it. His scholars at the Defense Institute of Security Cooperation Studies and the five Regional Centers can provide the academic analysis to show how the tranche system is the primary ineffective process in delivering security force assistance aid to our partners. Rarely do these institutions look internally at how the United States can improve our systems for Security Cooperation with our partner nations. Overall, changing the tranche system is more about influencing the policy makers than the security cooperation professionals.

Asking for $1 Billion compared to four $250 million chunks is hard for policymakers to ask, but in the end, it is the same. We’ve played a “be careful about what you ask for” game for ten years and now and the new NDAA has called our efforts to the mat. As a part of a review of our systems, we should also do due diligence to call out OSD’s systems as well. The DSCA Director should request an end to multiple tranche systems and request a one tranche notification in November of each new fiscal year. This will give DSCA program managers, military departments, and component planners the time they need to “fully bake” a proposal before it is obligated.

Pre-position equipment

Under the French peacekeeping system called Renforcement des Capacités Africaines de Maintien de la Paix (RECAMP) the French military preposition equipment in two depots in Cote d’Ivoire and Gabon for future use by its African partners. The French do this because they understand their African partner’s needs and requests for assistance are regularly short notice and immediate. By pre-positioning equipment, the French can rapidly deliver the necessary capability packages intra-theater within a time frame that is tactical, operationally, and then later strategically useful. The DSCA FMS system works well for Americans, but not for our partners. It is time to make the system more comfortable for our partners than our policymakers while training our implementors more and requiring more campaign planning from our combatant commands.

Off the shelf solutions were critical to the effectiveness of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The DoD managed to develop processes to move outside of the regular acquisition cycles to place new and improved articles of war into the hands of our Soldiers on the battlefield. Why can we acquire items and ship them to Afghanistan for our own forces within six months, but can’t do it for our strategic partners? It is time to change the Foreign Military System (FMS) from a Cold War-era system to one designed and oriented around the Global War on Terrorism. Every step of bureaucracy within the FMS system should be reanalyzed, streamlined, and made into an effect based operation. Analyzing what equipment is regularly sold through the pseudo-FMS system, purchasing it and pre-positioning it would eliminate 12 months of the 24-month acquisition cycle. Store it in the U.S. and notify Congress by country when the Combatant Command requests it. Upon notification, to Congress, the items can ship. We can get it down to six months policy decision to delivery.

Require Implementation of DASD Thomas’ CCPM model by the Combatant Commands

As I prepare to go to the USAFRICOM RSWG next week, I am astonished at the number of people who are referring to “Capability Packages” that are just proposals that are a section of the capability. Our command and most other SCOs and desk officers are not fully educated on what an actual capability package is. DSCA, through the FMS system, regularly executes capability packages. However, they rarely do it through the pseudo-FMS system. The Combatant Command and OSD(P) / OSD (SOLIC)’s system (RSWG, STRWG, then tranche 1 through 5) doesn’t allow the time or effort yet for OSCs, DSCA program managers, and Component planners to develop correct Capability Packages. We are at least five years away from fully delivering the first CCPM.

Teach Theater Campaign Planning to everyone in the Security Cooperation University

After reviewing the schedule for ILE that I went through Theater Campaign Plans equated to less than one hour. The DISCS Overseas Manager course attempts to cover this gap, yet fails to apply it to the overall cycle of a Combatant Commands planning cycle. The U.S. Army Security Cooperation Planners Course, taught by the U.S. Army War College, also attempts to train how to prepare a Country Support Plan. However, none of these three courses spend enough time walking the student through the steps and nuances of Theater Campaign Planning, U.S. Department of State Integrated Country Strategy, or a Component Country Support Plan. Thus when the Combatant Command J5 tells its desk officers and OSCs to develop Country Coordination Plans the results are a bunch of darts thrown on the wall. The main course of the Security Cooperation University (SCU) should be a five to ten day ASI producing course on Theater Campaign Planning.

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