Since 9/11, the Departments of Defense and State have worked to build the capacity of foreign partners to address security threats—for example, by training and equipping foreign security forces. However, the rapid increase in these efforts has led to questions about whether these agencies are adequately coordinating (and not duplicating) efforts.
We conducted an inventory and found 194 DOD and State security cooperation and assistance efforts. DOD had 56 efforts that did not require State involvement and 87 efforts that did. State had 22 efforts that did not require DOD involvement and 30 efforts that did.
Examples of Military Systems Purchased by Egypt Using U.S. Security Assistance
Aircraft, Helicopters, Tank
What GAO Found
GAO identified 194 Department of Defense (DOD) security cooperation and Department of State (State) security assistance efforts that may be used to build foreign partner capacity to address security-related threats. This report presents GAO’s fiscal year 2016 inventory of these efforts—including each effort’s name, description, and associated legal authorities—in tables organized according to agency involvement as required by the listed associated authorities. GAO determined that DOD has 56 efforts for which the listed associated authorities do not require any State involvement and 87 efforts for which at least one of the listed associated authorities requires some level of State involvement. State has 22 efforts for which the listed associated authorities do not require any DOD involvement and 30 efforts for which at least one of the listed associated authorities requires some level of DOD involvement. (One joint effort is included in two tables but is counted only once in GAO’s total number of efforts.)
Why GAO Did This Study
Since the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001, the U.S. government has engaged in numerous efforts to build the capacity of foreign partners to address security–related threats—an objective that has become increasingly prominent in U.S. national security strategy and foreign policy in recent years. Much of U.S. assistance intended for this purpose has been undertaken as security cooperation efforts by DOD and as security assistance efforts by State, with the help of various implementing partners. However, according to the RAND Corporation (RAND), the rapid growth of legal authorities and efforts associated with security cooperation and assistance has led to redundancies, limitations, and gaps. RAND also noted that this rapid growth of legal authorities and programs has led to expanding demands on DOD staff who must navigate through them as well as through unsynchronized processes, resources, programs, and organizations to execute individual initiatives with partner nations. Members of Congress have raised questions about the proliferation and duplication of efforts to build partner security capabilities and the supporting legal authorities. In addition, Members of Congress have raised questions about whether DOD security cooperation efforts lack strategic direction and may not act in concert with other efforts. House Armed Services Committee Report 114-102, accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 (H.R.1735), includes a provision for GAO to report on an inventory of DOD security cooperation programs intended to build partner security capabilities. DOD defines these programs as including DOD-administered State security assistance activities. According to DOD and State officials, no sanctioned U.S. government inventory of security cooperation and security assistance efforts exists.
In this report, GAO provides its fiscal year 2016 inventory of DOD security cooperation and State security assistance efforts that may be used by the U.S. government to build foreign partners’ capacity to address security-related threats, including each effort’s name, description, associated legal authorities, and agency involvement as required by the associated authorities. This inventory includes efforts that have building partner capacity (BPC) to address security-related threats as a primary goal as well as efforts that may have BPC as an ancillary goal or effect. GAO compiled this inventory primarily from DOD and State sources and worked with DOD and State to resolve any discrepancies and add additional efforts. This inventory may not represent the complete universe of DOD security cooperation and State security assistance efforts to build partner capacity and their associated authorities, because of, among other things, possible lack of accurate reporting in the primary sources and difficulties involved in identifying all associated authorities for each effort. To mitigate these concerns, GAO provided multiple iterations of the inventory to DOD and State for their review and incorporated their comments as appropriate.
GAO is making no recommendations. In commenting on the draft report, DOD disagreed with GAO’s methods and results, citing among other things, inconsistent application of definitions. GAO continues to believe its methodology and findings are valid, as discussed in the report. State provided technical comments which were incorporated as appropriate.