Security Cooperation and Security Force Assistance: An Introduction

June 6, 2016 | By kgabel
VIRIN: 160606-N-ZZ219-4003
The RFA Fort Victoria (A387) delivers a 2-ton test weight before it begins to deliver goods to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) during a replenishment-at-sea. Elements of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are embarked aboard the USS Anchorage, which is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, and are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. –Photo by Sgt. Steve H. Lopez The acronym “SC” is very familiar to our community. It literally accompanies us throughout our Supply Corps careers. However, since reporting to the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance, (JCISFA), I have learned a great deal about another “SC” called security cooperation and the related activities of Security Force Assistance (SFA)—in particular, how each affects not only the Supply Corps, but the entire Department of Defense (DoD). To understand SC, you must first understand that the security sector is comprised of those institutions—to include partner governments and international organizations—that have the authority to use force to protect both the state and its citizens at home or maintain international peace and security. Security Sector Assistance is the policies and programs used to engage, help and enable foreign partners across the security sector and, as stated in Presidential Policy Directive (PPD)-23, require a unity of effort across the U.S. government; SC contributes to DoD’s portion of that effort. Security Cooperation Defined as “all DoD interactions with foreign defense establishments to build defense relationships that promote specific U.S. security interests, develop allied and friendly military capabilities for self-defense and multinational operations, and provide U.S. forces with peacetime and contingency access to a host nation,” SC is an important priority within the DoD. It is incorporated into the highest level of strategic guidance and is subsequently reflected in the global maritime strategy, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power” to advance the global network of navies concept by deepening SC with allies and partners. SC is carried out through varying legislative authorities via a number of programs prevalent in our daily interactions with both allied and partner nations. A few examples familiar to the Supply Corps are:
  • Military-to-military engagements hosting our international partners at official functions.
  • The sale of F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G aircraft and the associated logistical support to the government of Australia; a portion of DoD’s $31.5 billion in annual foreign military sales.
  • Courses like the Navy Supply Corps School’s International Logistics Executives Advanced Development (ILEAD) which utilize the $105 million International Military and Education and Training (IMET) grant financial assistance program.
All of the SC programs meet DoD’s goals to help maintain relationships and/or ensure host nation access, but some also assist foreign partners and institutions with the development of their capabilities and capacities, also known as building partner capacity (BPC). It is from this concept of BPC that emerges the activities known as SFA. Security Force Assistance According to Joint Publication 1-02, SFA comprises those “DoD activities that contribute to unified action by the U.S. Government to support the development of the capacity and capability of foreign security forces (FSF) and their supporting institutions.” If we break this definition down we see that it is part of a unified action of which DoD is a contributor with other U.S. Government players, for example the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security. We also see that SFA transcends direct support to FSF at the operational level and includes their supporting institutions. Those institutions are critical to FSF sustainment; where would our Service be without the DoD and supporting hierarchy to provide executive direction and force generating capability e.g., funding, personnel, training, etc.? To be clear, SFA is not a unilateral effort; DoD Instruction 5000.68, “Security Force Assistance”, states it shall be conducted with FSF, which must be taken into account within the geographic Combatant Commander’s (CCDR) theater campaign planning. Those planning efforts are considerable and there are a number of organizations dedicated to provide support. One such organization is JCISFA. As a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Controlled Activity reporting to the Joint Staff J7, Joint Force Development, JCISFA is chartered to institutionalize lessons learned and best practices from SFA operations and is committed to developing those best practices to build FSF from top to bottom, from the executive level down to the operational level. The team at JCISFA concentrates on enabling geographic CCDR’s respective theater campaign plans to organize, train, equip, rebuild/build, and advise FSF across the executive, generating and operating (EGO) functions. Several resources for these SFA concepts are the Joint Doctrine Note 1-13 “Security Force Assistance” and the JCISFA knowledge portal, In addition to JCISFA, there are other SC enabling organizations like the Navy International Programs Office, the principal Navy organization for handling SC matters, and the Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group, an organization providing both Joint Force and Service-wide SC contributions to policies, programs and activities. This article introduced the Joint Lexicon of SC and SFA with the goals to emphasize their presence in the day-to-day operations of the Supply Corps, to introduce some of the programs and organizations which support SC and SFA, and finally to express their overall importance to our Service and the DoD. This importance will only increase within our resource constrained environment and the resultant increased reliance on our allies and partners to help us achieve our mutual security objectives.
VIRIN: 160606-N-ZZ219-4005
November/December 2015