Improving Security Cooperation with a Practical Whole of Government Approach

  • September 17, 2016
  • Mr. Brent G. Bahl

The 2015 National Military Strategy identified strengthening the U.S.' global network of allies and partners as a national military objective. Specifically how to provide security force assistance (SFA) is an Army Warfighting Challenge. However, Geographic Combat Commands (GCC) have conducted security cooperation, including SFA, with varying results. While structural inefficiencies are widely acknowledged, it is unlikely the underlying law will change significantly in the near term. This paper proposes as a practical matter, GCCs should increase cooperation with Ambassadors and better employ the senior defense official/defense attaché (SDO/DATT) to leverage country teams to develop a Common Operating Picture (COP) of the countries receiving the security assistance. This will result in increased and shared situational awareness and unity of effort between the GCC and the Country Team. Security cooperation officers (SCO) should consider adopting a more balanced approach to cooperation and assistance and GCC deploy a Special Operations Command – Forward, if appropriate. These practical measures will result in better implementation of security cooperation.