Continuity: The key to your replacement’s success


The Continuity Book is a staple of old-school U.S. Army doctrine and staff processes.  It has lost some of its “bookness” recently with the invention of share drives and other knowledge management computer systems.  However, more and more in Africa and with our small community – an actual continuity book is something that we should continue to do.  When I arrived to the embassy I had no turn over with my predecessor.  I did have numerous emails with him prior to arrival, but I didn’t have someone to “walk me around.”  Luckily, I did have someone who thought Continuity Books were important, even to the point to where he wrote the following article and provided me with a book full of the following information.  I never realized it until I left, but during my first six months, I must have turned the pages of that book 100+ times.

Printed with permission by the author: Joseph Guido

“Office of Security Cooperation Continuity Book Table of Contents

Chief, OSC

  1. Position Descriptions and Additional Responsibilities / Commodity Areas
  2. OSC Mission Statement
  3. OSC Mission Essential Task List [METL]
  4. OSC Phone Rosters
    • Embassy
    • Combatant Command
    • Joint Task Force
    • Important Contact Numbers
  5. OSC Battle Rhythm
  6. OSC Calendar
  7. OSC Office Rating Scheme
  8. OSC Policy Letters
  9. OSC Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s)
  10. Maps/Graphics
  11. OSC Property Control Summary
  12. OSC Residential Summary
  13. OSC Vehicle Summary
  14. OSC Inspection and Evaluation Results
  15. OSC Lessons Learned
  16. OSD Summary of Ongoing Activities (Security Cooperation Activities Report)
  17. OSC Personal Biographies
  18. US Embassy Management Policies
  19. US Embassy Security Policies /Directives
  20. OSC Appointment Orders
  21. MAJ Guido Leadership Philosophy
  22. Inspector General Preparation Guide
  23. FMF/IMET Budget Tool
  24. ACSS Background Information
  25. OSC DHAPP FY13 Action Plan with Spend Plan and Execution Matrix
  26. OSC ADP Plan
  27. PREACT Background Information
  28. ACSA
  29. 1206 UTAF
  30. Defense Manpower Data Center Web-Based Language Testing
  31. User’s Guide
  32. English Comprehensive Level Test Administration Guide
  33. Testing—English Comprehensive Level [ECL] User’s Guide

Security Cooperation Organization Continuity

Success in Security Cooperation shares the characteristics of success in any military endeavor which include planning, organization, command and control, logistics, and administration. Ambiguous environments and challenging circumstances are often cited as reasons for shortfalls in these domains, particularly in underdeveloped nations and the increasing US Government austerity. However, conducting security assistance activities without these basic elements of military success increases risk and oftentimes leads to improvisation. A US Army Center for Military History study of German operations on the Eastern Front in World War II entitled Military Improvisations During the Russian Campaign states that “Faulty planning, unsatisfactory performance of matérial, and violations of basic principles of warfare cause deficiencies which can be alleviated through improvisation but can only be overcome by sacrificing time, space, and strength.”[1] This historical study concluded that “because of their always-present inherent defects, improvisations should be avoided altogether when possible.”[2] Structure and organization become critical to avoid such continual improvisation, particularly in organizations which are under-resourced, over-tasked, and in difficult environments—often the case for sub-Saharan African SCO’s.

One tool which can help structure the SCO, set priorities to better manage scarce resources, and enable long-term success is the continuity book. Relatively little is published about the continuity book even though it is required by Geographic Combatant Command [CCMD] Inspector General [IG] and Defense Security Cooperation Agency [DSCA] Security Cooperation Organization [SCO] checklists. What is the continuity book? How does one find or build a continuity book? Why is there so much emphasis yet so little guidance on continuity and where can we look for direction?

My experience has been that these amorphous continuity books are generally hard-to-find in SCO’s. Individuals often cite lack of time available to assemble continuity books; others believe it is a waste of time because continuity books are not useful and serve only to “check the box” for inspections; still others claim they cannot make continuity books because they do not know what it should include or even point out that there is little-written guidance and no clarity on what these continuity books should include. Yet, how many times have we been greatly assisted when arriving to a new position by input and written clarity from our predecessors? Conversely, how many times have we assumed a new position only to immediately grope through desk drawers, office files, and rosters to glean the relevant information to answer an inquiry or send a report? Building continuity books prepares the office for transition or absences, communicate what we do on a daily basis, and can be a tool to help us learn details of our positions and improve our business practices.

This essay is intended to give SCO’s, CCMD IG, or other inspectors a starting point for making and using continuity books at the SCO level. I also hope to begin a discussion regarding the importance of continuity and contribute some ideas used to incorporate continuity into SCO operations, structure, and training.

The Continuity Book Starts with Continuity.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines continuity as 1) an uninterrupted connection, succession, or union; 2) uninterrupted duration or continuation especially without essential change; or 3) something that has, exhibits, or provides continuity.[3] Continuity is, therefore, a broad concept and a continuity book should hence provide continuous progression toward security cooperation goals as well as facilitate office continuity. This continuous and progressive process fundamentally begins at the individual level but often requires leadership and organization to be effective at the SCO level. In the Africa Command Area of Responsibility, the need and utility of a continuity book is magnified by small offices with rapid personal turn-over and little or no transition time between positions. CCMD desk officers should have access to the SCO continuity book and the contents of the continuity book should be made available to the incoming SCO while at DISAM training or CCMD in-processing if possible.

An initial challenge regarding continuity books is the general lack of doctrinal definition or definitive guidance. Continuity books differ from “SmartBooks” and “Leader Books” because the principal objective of a continuity book is to provide the necessary information for uninterrupted operations. Smartbooks and leader books typically contain references needed for complex functions or serve as an aide memoire for leaders by organizing personnel, technical, and unit information.

Although there is little authoritative guidance on implementation of continuity books by the Department of Defense, their use and presence in a SCO is mandated by through the IG Inspection Checklist or CCMD Letters of Instruction or SOP’s. The lack of specific policy should be seen as a benefit instead of a detriment, however, as this provides the freedom for individual innovation and appropriately accounts for the wide diversity of SCO missions and office structures. Clear policies and written directives would likely stifle initiative, stymie creativity, and circumscribe the SCO with yet more rules, directives, and policies while not establishing an effective and tailored continuity mechanism. Thus, SCO’s should not lament the lack of guidance, but take action at the SCO level to promote professionalism, continuity, and creativity thanks to the freedom of possibilities.

Some guiding considerations in-continuity books include early creation and constant revision through daily use, structured and orderly approach to facilitate understanding and readability, accessibility and simple layout to encourage revisions and additions. Thus, if you do not have a continuity book—start now! Furthermore, continuity should be incorporated into the office’s objectives, to include counseling subordinates on the need for making a continuity book.

In Djibouti, some solutions in this spirit of inculcating continuity included an “OSC Professional Development Forum” where members of the OSC would present security assistance topics to each other and other staff from the embassy or military service-members in-country. We also had a counseling program which emphasized quarterly counseling, clear and written performance objectives, and face-to-face feedback. We placed a premium on training for the staff and sought out every opportunity to attend training and facilitated an innovative OSC exchange program with other SCO’s in AFRICOM. We developed several office procedures and policies, and instituted a weekly routine in order to promote communication and ensure understanding and “follow-through.” This routine included routine meetings with the host nation where we would provide a written agenda to the group to help keep focused and stay on track, despite inviting the maximum number of participants from the embassy, host nation, and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa [CJTF-HOA], in order to increase communication.

Continuity: Where to Begin?

An SCO continuity book should, at a minimum, address the relevant statutory functions required of an SCO. These seven legislated functions include education and training program management, program (End Use) monitoring, case management, evaluation or planning of the host government’s military capabilities and requirements, promoting rationalization-standardization-interoperability, office administration, and SCO liaison functions. If you do not currently have a continuity book, or need to update them, a good place to start would be to review the available references and governing documents, such as the DISAM “Green Book,” the electronic Security Assistance Management Manual [SAMM], IG checklists, DISAM’s online “SCO Best Practices,” and the DISAM Journal. For example, I recommend reviewing two DISAM Journal articles “Lessons Learned from the Field: Leading in a Security Cooperation Office” by COL Dan Dagher and “Standing Up a Security Cooperation Office in the Developing World” by LTC(R) Jim Toomey. These two articles, based on real SCO experiences, are loaded with good examples and solutions which have worked in the field. Also, Leonel Nascimento’s online article “Building a Useful Continuity Book”[4] offers additional advice on continuity books.

The ubiquitous two-inch, three-ring binder could be used to organize this information in a functionally-aligned or “commodity area” approach. In some cases, depending upon the scope or complexity of the SCO, several binders may be required or even entire filing systems. For example, in OSC-Djibouti where I served as the officer-in-charge, End Use Monitoring became a significant issue and warranted an entire continuity book dedicated to the EUM program. Furthermore, case management consumed an entire filing cabinet. OSC-Djibouti divided its Foreign Military Sales [FMS] cases into five general categories relative to the life cycle of FMS cases based upon the new electronic SAMM.[5] This includes “Case Pre-Development,” “Case Development,” “Case Implementation,” “Case Execution,” and “Case Closure.” A brief case summary using information from SCIP, the case file, and resident knowledge, were listed on an excel spreadsheet to help the office track the FMS cases and quickly share information or provide data for various inquiries. International Education and Training Management was handled by a dedicated locally employed staff who also had a continuity book, International Military Student files, and excel tracker. These are all excellent examples where individual office requirements, structure, and resources provide the SCO a unique opportunity to creatively address continuity and organizational needs.

Examples of what to include in a SCO Continuity Book could be, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Table of Contents
  • Appointment Orders, Letters of Delegation, Duties, and Responsibilities
  • Key References
  • Battle Rhythm and Planning Calendar
  • Mission Statement and Mission Essential Elements Task List (METL)
  • Leadership Philosophy
  • Best Business Practices and relevant policies and procedures
  • Property control and vehicle maintenance documents
  • Budget and ICASS information
  • Automation, communications, and data processing plans
  • End-Use Monitoring Program
  • Recent Inspection and Evaluation Results
  • Case Management Summary
  • Points of Contact or Telephone directories
  • Office Filing System Organization or Summary
  • SCO online tools such as SANweb, SCIP, FMF/IMET Budget Tool
  • Lessons Learned
  • Activities Report or information and examples for routine reports

As the OSC Chief in Djibouti, I also created a “Read Book” with relevant material to security cooperation management in Africa, in some cases specific to Djibouti. I did not include this compilation as a part of the continuity book, although it helps everyone to understand and use the correct Security Cooperation vocabulary as well as review the guiding strategic thought and programs for the SCO—in other words, “the big picture.”  This “Read Book” was intended to assist the OSC staff to learn about several key aspects of security cooperation often unique or relevant to the office such as pseudo-case management issues, cultural or social peculiarities, strategic guidance, or relevant State Department, DoD, or DSCA policies. I encouraged all members of the OSC to read the articles contained in the read book and often used it to look up and cite important facts or highlight material for others to read in order to better educate and familiarize them with security cooperation activities. In my opinion, part of being a security cooperation officer is to help others in the embassy or host nation and US defense personnel understand the potential, limitations, and restrictions of security assistance. This was especially important in Djibouti, home to the only military forward operating base in Africa at Camp Lemonnier and the largest Task Force on the continent, CJTF-HOA.

Some of the material in my “Read Book,” which was divided into three broad sections of “Key Programs and Policy,” “Important SCO References,” and “Regional Highlights and Additional References” included:

  • Security Sector Reform USAID, US DoD, US DoS.
  • US Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, The White House, June 2012.
  • Posture Statement of US Africa Command, Statement of General Carter Hap Before House Armed Services Committee, 1 March 2012.
  • Security Force Assistance: Additional Actions Needed to Guide Geographic Combatant Command and Service Efforts, US Government Accountability Office, Report to Congressional Committees GAO-12-556, May 2012.
  • Security Assistance Reform: “Section 1206” Background and Issues for Congress, Nina M. Serafino, Congressional Research Service 7-5700, 13 January 2012.
  • Section 1206 Global Train and Equip Authority, DoD Instruction 5111.19, 26 July 2011.
  • United States Policy Relative to Commitments to Foreign Governments Under Foreign Assistance Programs, DoD Directive 2100.3, 11 July 1963.
  • Stability Operations, DoD Instruction 3000.05, 16 September 2009.
  • Department of Defense Operations at US Embassies, DoD Directive 5105.75, 21 December 2007.
  • Staffing of Security Cooperation Organizations (SCOs) and the Selection and Training of Security Cooperation Personnel, DoD Instruction 5132.13, 9 January 2009.
  • Irregular Warfare, DoD Directive 3000.07, 1 December 2008.
  • Compliance with the State and DoD Leahy Amendments: A Guide to the Vetting Process, US DoS, 24 April 2007.
  • Security Force Assistance (SFA), DoD Instruction 5000.68, 27 October 2010.
  • Administrative and Logistical Support of Overseas Security Assistance Originations (SAOs), Army Regulation 1-75, 27 March 2000.
  • Inspection of Offices of Security Cooperation (OSC), Office of the Inspector General, HQ USAFRICOM, March 2012.
  • Foreign Internal Defense, Joint Publication 3-22, 12 July 2010.
  • Theater Campaign Planning: Planner’s Handbook—Version 1.0, OSD-P, February 2012.
  • Building a Useful Continuity Book, Leonel Nascimento, US Military Analyst Center for Army Lessons Learned.
  • “An Open Letter to Army FAOs,” Army Magazine, General William E. “Kip” Ward, January 2011.
  • “Starting Up a Security Cooperation Office in the Developing World,” DISAM Journal, LTC(R) Jim Toomey.
  • “Lessons Learned From the Field: Leading in a Security Cooperation Office (SCO),” DISAM Journal, COL Dan Dagher.
  • “What to Wear: Diversity and Fashion at State,” State Magazine, John M. Robinson, October 2012.
  • Defense is from Mars State is From Venus, Army War College, COL Rickey L. Rife, 1998.
  • ICASS Welcome: Your Guide to ICASS Services, ICASS Service Center, DoS, 2012.
  • ICASS: What is ICASS, ICASS Service Center, DoS, 5 November 2012.
  • A Guide for Supervisors of Foreign Service Employees, Bureau of Human Resources, US DoS, January 2004.

In assembling the continuity book, a good “rule of thumb” regarding what to include should be the answer to the question “What is special that I need to know in order to do my job?” This utilitarian approach should aid to construct the continuity book; however, the underlying principle of continuity should be the guiding force not only for what is included in the continuity book but setting the conditions for continuity. For example, SCO’s should seek out opportunities to “build” or “institutionalize” continuity in the individuals, structure, and procedures of the office. Continuity is a continuous and progressive process and several examples of “institutionalizing” continuity include establishing policies and procedures such as SOP’s [Standard Operating Procedures], publishing roles and responsibilities, providing written counseling and routine feedback, emphasize training opportunities and promoting office professionalization through the standardization of office practices and through cross-training, articulating SCO priorities and task-organizing. Ultimately, the spirit of continuity and ability to maintain focus, direction, and progress is more significant than the letters in a continuity book.

Remember that you are not alone! Networking with other SCO’s can prove an invaluable source of examples, policies, SOP’s, and sometimes the perspective, distance, or experience to give the insight needed to solve a tough problem. DISAM’s “Ask an instructor” and the CCMD desk officer or program offices points of contact are also great resources which should be used. If you have a question—ask!

Continuity Books: Part of the Solution

The importance of the continuity book is not the significance of a binder or book, but the importance of uninterrupted and unimpeded operations combined with a progressive and developmental approach to performing office functions. Continuity books should increase efficiency and enable functionality. In other words, there is no sense in building continuity books for the sake of building continuity books or “checking the block.” Instead, continuity books should emphasize and demonstrate systematic progress, communication and collaboration, and preparing for future success despite absences or transitions of individuals in the current team.

Continuity begins, and is therefore measured; at the individual level and so the onus of creating and maintaining a continuity book rests with all members of the SCO. Promoting continuity and enabling it is ultimately the responsibility of the officer-in-charge. As continuity is an imperfect science, there is no “textbook solution,” creativity is good and initiative and vision should be rewarded. However, if SCO’s do not take continuity seriously and enable solutions, then SCO’s could risk stifling initiative and creativity and by circumscribing their offices with additional rules, directives, and policies aimed at controlling and measuring continuity.

[1] Military Improvisations During the Russian Campaign (Center for Military History, 1951), 1.

[2]  Ibid., 103.

[3] (accessed April 28 2013).

[4] See .

[5] See chapters five and six, “Foreign Military Sales Case Development” and “Foreign Military Sales Case Implementation, Execution, and Closure” available online at”

Did I continue the Continuity?

I think the biggest hurdle with Continuity Books is that like shared drives, they are personality based.  Different people share, organize, and store information differently.  I took my predecessors idea and tried to replicate it, but unfortunately, I failed at systematically filing the items I thought were of importance regularly and throughout my time there.  I had this huge pile of paper in the corner that I swore would one day be organized, filed, and then tabbed for my replacement to easily read and comprehend.

About two months out when I finally received orders to depart – I freaked because there would be a four-month gap between me and my replacement.  Everything I had worked on (and my predecessor) was at risk if my replacement couldn’t pick up the details and move the ball forward. I took the pile in the corner and tried to tab it into ten three inch binders in my office.  My hope was with the FMS file systems my predecessor had set up, along with his continuity book (which I halfway updated), and my gross amount of files and handouts – I would continue the legacy that was established.  I realized about a year afterward that our personality differences showed in our continuity.  He was borderline OCD in his organization of things, and I was me – everything was in my head and not written down or able to be printed.

I did do one thing which I thought at the time would be helpful and ended up being my version of the continuity book.  I provided a twenty-page change over note word document with the following:

Change over notes for the incoming OSC… (I’ve erased everything of context here)


Covering the gap:

  1. MRAP MAXXPRO Wrecker Training (TBD)
  2. RGIII MRAP Delivery
  3. IRobot Training
  4. AMEP
  5. Navy & Ship riders
  6. US Army Corps of Engineers


  1. Before arriving I recommend you establish the following accounts:
    1. OHASIS
    2. SanWeb
    3. FMF/IMET Webtool
    4. SCIP – you’ll do this at DISAM
    5. Accounts established (upon arrival)
      1. E2Service
      2. ILMS Ariba Approver

Recommended Meeting Coverage

  1. Weekly meeting with Director of International Relations
  2. Host Nation Operations Meeting
  3. POL-MIL
  4. Country Team
  5. 3D Meeting
  6. Aviation Monthly meetings at Airport
  7. JTF O&I
  8. Country Working Group
  9. Military to Military Coordination
  10. OSC and Director of International Relations
    1. Meetings:
    2. Protocol:


  1. FMF:
  2. PKO/Peacekeeping:
  3. 2282 (prior 1206):
  4. Future 2282:
  5. IMET:
  6. English Language Training:
  7. Courses:
  8. MTT:
  9. CTFP:
  10. PREACT:
  11. HA:
  12. HCA:
  13. English Language Labs
  14. National Guard State Partnership Program
  15. End-Use Monitoring (EUM):
  16. African Military Education Program

Military Units: Republican Guard, Gendarmerie, Coast Guard, Army Units, Navy, Air Force


  1. MND Brief
  2. Air Force Brief
  3. MoD AMIA
  4. Gendarmerie Nationale
  5. Event Briefs
  6. MoD Republican Guard
  7. DCMAT Brief
  8. Service Santé Brief
  9. Symbols
  10. REG ART Brief
  11. Ecole Militaire
  12. Key Leader Engagements

OSC Duty Areas: FMF Case Development, 1206 Funds, IMET Oversight, Budget Oversight, US Defense Representative, Deputy Military Advisor to the Ambassador, Budget Execution, Inspector General Compliance, English Language Test Control Officer, Visitor Control Officer (Flag Officers and VIP) (Alternate), ADPE (equipment), FMF Logistics, Mobile Training Team Support, Vehicles

  1. OSC LES Roles:
    1. Budget and Training
      1. IMET Execution
      2. CTFP Execution
      3. Main Interpreter
      4. Protocol/Translation
      5. Diplomatic Notes
    2. Budget / Operations
      1. Administrative Support – Money
      2. Procurement / Bills / MIPRs
      3. Expediter
      4. ICASS
      5. Maintenance/Work Orders
      6. IMET Execution (Backup)
      7. Protocol (Backup)
      8. HIV/AIDS Coordinator
        1. HIV/AIDS Program
        2. HIV/AIDS Budget
        3. Expediter (Backup)

AFRICOM Contacts:

DSCA Contacts:

DoS CT Programs:

Dos Programs:

National Guard Contacts:

Desk Officers:



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