The Roles and Functions of Overseas Security Assistance Offices Need To Be Clarified

ID-81-47: Published: May 29, 1981. Publicly Released: May 29, 1981.

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A study was conducted to determine the activities of the overseas Security Assistance Offices. An examination was made of the need to change a section of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to better recognize what these offices actually do. The role of the Unified Commands in the security assistance management process was reviewed, and the reasons for and against consolidating the security assistance function with the defense attache function in overseas missions were weighed.

The Act authorizes three types of offices that include the: (1) Military Assistance and Advisory Group which is responsible for logistics management, transportation, fiscal management, and contract administration; (2) Office of Defense Cooperation which performs accounting and other management functions; and (3) Defense Attache Office which performs security assistance management functions in countries where the President determines that it is economically feasible. All three types of offices perform basically the same duties but their involvement in these functions varies in degree and scope. The offices perform activities which relate directly to assisting the host country obtain equipment, services, and training under the security assistance programs. They also are providing advisory assistance on a routine basis. The assistance provided is directed at improving the host country's ability to procure, install, use, and maintain its military equipment and systems. Assistance is also given in force structure, force development, and operations. Some offices devote considerable staff resources to performing activities not specifically related to managing the security assistance program, but which are defense related. This is a result of the offices being the only U.S. military organization in a particular country. In addition, the offices also: assist and coordinate combined military exercises conducted within the host country territorial boundaries, provide in-country support for U.S. military retirees, and sponsor or attend ceremonial functions.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of State and Defense should decide what the roles, missions, and functions of SAO's should be on a country-by-country basis and determine the numbers of U.S. personnel needed to perform such functions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of State and Defense should decide what the roles, missions, and functions of SAO's should be on a country-by-country basis and determine the numbers of U.S. personnel needed to perform such functions.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of State and Defense should provide information to Congress about the functions of SAO's and the numbers of U.S. personnel needed. They should also recommend changes to section 515 of the Foreign Assistance Act necessary to better recognize the appropriate functions of SAO's.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of State and Defense should provide information to Congress about the functions of SAO's and the numbers of U.S. personnel needed. They should also recommend changes to section 515 of the Foreign Assistance Act necessary to better recognize the appropriate functions of SAO's.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  5. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of State and Defense should each provide details, on both the advantages and disadvantages of consolidating the security assistance functions, to the authorizing committees prior to any further consolidations of the functions

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of State and Defense should each provide details, on both the advantages and disadvantages of consolidating the security assistance functions, to the authorizing committees prior to any further consolidations of the functions

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  7. Status: Closed

    Comments: GAO has no information on the actions taken in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should independently examine the Unified Commands' current security assistance organizational structure and staff levels to determine if staff reductions are possible and, if so, to reassign staff appropriately.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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