Imagine coordinating a weekly meeting between an Infantry, Civil Affairs, Foreign Area, Finance, Logistics, Engineer, Public Affairs, Adjutant General, Military Police, Veterinary Corps, Medical Corps, Garrison Commander, Chief of Staff, and a General Officer to discuss what is going on. That is what the military version of a U.S. Embassy Country Team looks like.
The Infantry Officer is the SDO/DATT (DoD Senior Rep, which can be any branch really); the Civil Affairs Officer is the USAID Country Representative; the Foreign Area Officer is the Political Officer and Security Cooperation Officer; the Finance Officer is the Financial Management Officer, the Logistics Officer is the General Services Officer, the Engineer Officer is the Facilities Manager, the Public Affairs Officer is the Public Affairs Specialists, the Adjutant General is the Consular Officer, and Human Resources Officer, the Military Police Officer is the Regional Security Officer, the Marine Security Guard Detachment Commander, and the FBI/DEA Attache, the Veterinary Corps Officer is the Centers for Disease Control representative and the Global Health Initiative representative, the Medical Corps Officer is the Embassy Medical Officer, the Garrison Commander is the Management Officer, the Chief of Staff is the Deputy Chief of Mission, and the General Officer is the Ambassador. Each member on a U.S. Country Team serves the same role as many of our military members do. The difference is they combine everyone into one team. We are likely to keep each of these members in larger units that are stove-piped and would never come together as individual representatives.
Can you imagine a group of military officers like this ever concluding on something? That seems like a negative statement or conclusion, but it isn’t. It displays the broad level of talent that is a part of a U.S. Embassy Country Team and their ability to coordinate, collaborate, and come to conclusions as a team.
Now that I have laid out who is on the Country Team let me highlight who an AFRICA OSC will deal with when concerning the Department of Defense Security Cooperation and Department of State Security Assistance programs an AFRICA OSC executes. An AFRICA OSC will usually only deal with the following Country Team members concerning designing and implementing programs: Political Officer, Economic Officer, USAID Representatives, CDC Representatives, the DCM, and the Ambassador. An AFRICA OSC may work with the RSO, Legal Attache, or other members when there is a specific program that may differ depending on a particular country’s requirements. An AFRICA OSC should always work with the Embassy Public Affairs Section to ensure the United States policies are distributed through multiple media aspects.
An AFRICA OSC has many different programs that they execute, some of which are Department of Defense-funded and some of which are Department of State-funded. The type of funding doesn’t matter when concerning who in the Country Team the AFRICA OSC works and coordinates with. Before coordinating any programs, all AFRICA OSCs should always consult their Integrated Country Strategy to ensure the requested requirements are already identified and are also nested within the Combatant Commander’s priorities. Once an AFRICA OSC has determined the requested requirements from the partner nation are already nested, or capable of being added, to these two strategies, then they should start walking around and talking to the Country Team members mentioned above, and also other allied nations present in the partner nation.
Duplication should be the first thing an AFRICA OSC should try to identify and eliminate. Often, partner nations will ask multiple agencies and countries for the same capability gap, hoping that they will fill it. There is nothing worse than providing a capability gap only to learn another allied nation is also working on the same gap. It is even worse when two offices within the U.S. Embassy are working on the same capability gap and only realize it once the programs have already been approved. An example of this could be in the Global Health Initiative, where the partner nation is using USAID funding to provide support to its military while at the same time, the AFRICA OSC is providing duplicative support through a Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) program.
Another example could be the British Embassy providing equipment for a pandemic contamination area at the port or international airport and airport security pandemic control training. At the same time, DTRA or the Combatant Command could be providing the same type of assistance. An AFRICA OSC should never get involved or even think it is appropriate to try to compete per se in a program with an allied nation. There are many needs in most African partner nations; it is always best to find an unmet capability and excel in it.
Once an AFRICA OSC has eliminated the duplication factor, they have identified a capability gap that Security Cooperation or Assistance funding can affect. While the AFRICA OSC should have done their due diligence in eliminating the duplication factor, they should have also asked if there were any potential linkages this capability gap may have with others that offices within the Country Team are working on. For example, one of the most significant collaborations amongst Country Team members is the HIV/AIDS fight. DoD’s contributions to this fight are in the hundreds of millions and are fully coordinated through the AFRICA OSC and the USAID and PEPFAR offices.
How can DoD integrate the Country Team into its programs?
First, the AFRICA OSC should understand that about half of their programs are DoS, so they should approach another member of the Country Team, not with a concept of “this is a DoD program,” and instead with the concept of “this is a United States Government program.” Which department the funding comes from should be minute. Unfortunately, sometimes some members do not see it this way.
Political and Economic Officers
An AFRICA OSC should work weekly with the Political and Economic officers. The Political Officers are responsible for reporting on the effectiveness of DoS programs, some of which are executed through the AFRICA OSC office. There are three primary programs that the AFRICA OSC will work with the Political Officer on 1) the Foreign Military Finance (FMF) program; 2) the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program; 3) the Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) program. Although reduced in Africa over the past years, the FMF program still has some funding that is being executed. The AFRICA OSC needs to work with the Political Officer not only to ensure the partner nation has been approved for any military sales they may desire to conduct through the FMF process. As the approval for these sales goes through the DoS primarily, the Political Officer and AFRICA OSC should work hand in hand to execute the FMF program.
The IMET program will be a staple of any AFRICA OSC’s programs, and will not see as much coordination through the Political Officer, other than Leahy requirements. There are many areas for an AFRICA OSC to work with the Political Officer to integrate the OSC’s IMET goals into other programs. The most prominent example in Africa is the Women’s Peace and Security Initiative (WPSI). Working with the Political Officer, the AFRICA OSC can easily slice out a portion of IMET to work with the WPSI, which can be included in a broader U.S. Embassy Integrated Country Strategy initiative. Perhaps another example of integrating (or synchronizing – a DoD phrase) IMET into a more comprehensive U.S. Embassy strategy could be using Expanded IMET (E-IMET) or DTRA to provide a Military Training Team (MTT) who specializes in providing medical training for military nurses at a military hospital. In most African countries, military hospitals also serve the civilian population surrounding the hospital, so providing this training through DoD could affect the programs USAID or CDC has in that area. Perhaps the regional medical laboratories have military officers who work in them. Through E-IMET and the AFRICA OSC office, it can support CDC and USAID’s effort with that laboratory.
When working with PKO programming, there are fewer areas to integrate the Political Officer, other than ensuring they are aware of how the program is being accomplished. The WPSI, however, is one area where the two offices can coordinate and work together. More and more, the United Nations requires each of its peacekeeping battalions to include more women. This is a problem for some African nations, and not for others. Finding ways to synchronize efforts with programs in the Political Office, USAID, and RSO concerning peacekeeping should always be something an AFRICA OSC seeks out.
The AFRICA OSC should regularly work with the Economic Officer if there is a large Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program in the country. Be it FMS or Direct Commerical Sales (DCS); the AFRICA OSC should work with the Economic Officer to ensure American businesses are promoted effectively. Including the Economic Officer will ensure their office is aware of all the military sales ongoing and may help if there are any export approvals required from Washington, D.C.
One of the most significant ways to integrate other Country Team members is to create a committee within the Embassy. Some of these committees are called Peace and Security Planning Committee, Security Cooperation Committee, or Security Sector Reform Initiatives Committee. Whatever the committee is called, the intent should be to get all stakeholders within the U.S. Embassy together regularly (monthly or bi-monthly) to discuss and synchronize U.S. Embassy security cooperation assistance efforts. The AFRICA OSC can organize and lead this or be a participant. Who attends will depend upon the portfolios of each office and what programs they participate in. A country that is labeled as a counter-terrorism country compared to one that is not will have significant differences in the size of their portfolios. This meeting would provide each office the opportunity to brief the programs they are supporting, or have available from Washington, D.C., to propose. The AFRICA OSC could suggest working with a military unit to improve its counter-terrorism capabilities. At the same time, the USAID Government and Democracy representative could propose working on a CVEO proposal with the local population in the same area, the RSO could propose working with a National Police unit in the same area, and the Political Officer could recommend funding to work with the local government leaders to synchronize all these efforts.
Humanitarian Affairs Committee
Another committee an AFRICA OSC could coordinate is a Humanitarian Affairs Committee. Perhaps there is a U.S. military base in the country, and the base commander wants to assist the local population surrounding that base to ensure the community is supportive of the base. These efforts should be coordinated through the AFRICA OSC at the U.S. Embassy to ensure they are synchronized with the USAID efforts. For example, the AFRICA OSC could use the HA/HCA program to refurbish a local school, mosque, water well, meat market, fish market, etc. These programs could be designed, planned, and executed by U.S. Army Civil Affairs Soldiers or U.S. Navy SeaBees from the U.S. military base. Perhaps the Chaplains from the base want to conduct religious ceremonies and events with the local population, or Soldiers wish to donate books to the American Corner at a local university. Other examples are the Department of Defense conducting a large scale humanitarian mission to Liberia to fight the Ebola outbreak, and this year AFRICA OSC offices across the continent worked with their USAID representatives to deliver COVID-19 relief efforts. The capabilities and abilities of the different units will differ, but the best way to ensure their efforts are practical is to get everyone together once every month or two. One way to synchronize these activities is to invite the unit commanders and their planners to the U.S. Embassy and sit around a table along with the USAID, CDC, RSO, and Political officers. During this meeting, it would be helpful for the military units to explain who they are, their missions on the base, their capabilities, their funding methods and restrictions, and what they are trying to do and why. This will allow the Country Team officers to lay out the programs and potential any policy goals they have and to identify duplications or gaps that may exist in their programs in comparison to the military. Perhaps USAID has a major upcoming program through the Global Health Initiative that will be refurbishing the local health clinic around the base. Maybe the Political officer knows that a non-governmental organization (NGO) has already promised to rebuild the water well in that area. This type of cross-communication reduces duplication within the U.S. Embassy and U.S. military units. It can minimize duplication amongst other Embassy’s and NGOs’ efforts in-country. The AFRICA OSC should take notes for this meeting and distribute them afterward to capture what has been said and what has been agreed upon.
U.S. Navy Ship Visits
The U.S. Navy regularly stops in a port to resupply and give its Sailors some rest and recuperation. These visits are often used as a military event, but they don’t always have to. Perhaps a smaller military lunch and a more significant diplomatic event could also occur. Maybe the USAID officer could host a Counter VEO event, a Global Health Initiative, or the Political Officer could host a Women’s Peace and Security event. Sailors and their vessels are always ambassadors, use them for more than just a military purpose.
Security Coordination Meeting
The last suggestion of integrating other Country Team members into an AFRICA OSC’s programs is to invite them to the yearly Security Cooperation Planning Meeting between the AFRICA OSC and the partner nation’s military. This is a great opportunity not only to expose the Political, Economic, USAID, and Regional Security Officers to the partner nation’s military leaders but also the AFRICA OSC’s security cooperation and assistance portfolio.
Overall, the size and effectiveness of integrating other members of the U.S. government into an AFRICA OSC’s security cooperation and assistance portfolio will depend upon many different things. These include individual personalities, and their willingness to work with DoD members, size of their offices, size of their programs, etc. will all determine their ability to participate in any of the committees mentioned above.