The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) is the Department of Defense’s lead agency for advising, training, and equipping foreign governments. They provide key tools to help the DoD meet its National Defense Strategy goals of enhancing engagement, institutional capacity building, humanitarian assistance, and professional military education among partner nations. DSCA’s programs are conducted under the authorities established in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act.
DSCA is the Department of Defense (DoD) ‘s lead agency for advising, training, and equipping foreign governments. Its mission is to build enduring partnerships between U.S. and ally and partner nation militaries that strengthen both parties and their institutions. The United States provides security assistance through a series of military grant programs, including Foreign Military Financing (FMF), International Military Education and Training (IMET), Peacekeeping Operations (PKO), and Foreign Military Sales (FMS). These programs develop allied and friendly military capabilities to support self-defense and multinational operations.
IMET, for example, promotes regional stability and defense capabilities by educating students from allied and friendly nations about U.S. military practices and standards, exposing them to democratic values and respect for internationally recognized standards of human rights. It also facilitates relationships with allied and friendly defense leaders who often play a critical role in transitioning to democratic governments and helping establish responsible defense governance.
While the United States government focuses on building a capacity to counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, and other military objectives in fragile states, these goals can have unintended consequences for human rights. In fact, studies have found that a significant increase in military assistance can have a negative impact on human rights conditions in recipient countries.
Moreover, building partner military capabilities can sometimes lead to a misalignment of force structures between the military and civilian leadership in foreign countries, reducing civilian control over defense forces. Many research studies have documented that a lack of civilian oversight of defense activities can result in using human rights abuses as weapons against citizens and weakening governmental legitimacy.
For this reason, the United States government should only conduct security cooperation in specific cases that truly serve its national interests. For example, the government should avoid transferring equipment to unstable or failed states in danger of human-rights abuses or lacking the resources needed to maintain their defense forces.
The United States security cooperation activities are planned and executed through various laws, regulations, and sources of funding. Understanding these processes can help stakeholders anticipate and execute Security Cooperation projects that support U.S. global policies and objectives and provide useful insight to non-governmental organizations and academic institutions.
What Does Defense Security Cooperation Agency Do?
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency is a government agency that helps the United States government build ties with foreign countries. Founded on the idea that relationships matter, the agency provides military hardware, training, and humanitarian assistance to partner and allied nations. The agency also manages several other programs, including foreign military sales, international military education and training, and global train-and-equip missions. DSCA also oversees the Department of Defense’s Security Cooperation Enterprise.
DSCA’s mission is to help partners and allies improve their military capabilities while developing relationships that will last for the long term. Since 1971, the agency has worked to strengthen those partnerships. While the agency has grown to more than 1,000 employees, DSCA is still focused on its original mission of building enduring partnerships between U.S. and ally and partner nation militaries. Although a wide variety of policies and procedures govern DSCA, the agency’s core responsibilities include the following:
Working with other agencies, such as the State Department and the National Security Agency, DSCA identifies and coordinates activities that involve transfers of stocked defense articles to eligible foreign nations and organizations, referred to as Foreign Military Sales (FMS). Under FMS, the purchasing government pays all costs associated with a sale but does not own the equipment. DSCA’s support to other agencies includes the management of the State Department’s Transfer Processing and Tracking (TPT) system, which ensures that shipments of U.S. Army weapons and equipment to partner nations are secure and compliant with the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and other federal laws.
The agency also leads the United States government’s Defense Advocacy Program, which allows U.S. companies to engage foreign officials on strategic, military, and economic issues. In addition, the agency is responsible for regulating the export of sensitive dual-use goods and technologies. The agency is also the primary advisor to the Secretary of Defense on S.C. matters. It also directs, administers, and provides guidance to the Components and DoD representatives to U.S. missions for the execution of DoD Security Cooperation programs.
Who Does DSCA fall under?
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) oversees over half a trillion dollars in foreign military sales. The agency is responsible for building enduring partnerships between the United States and partner nations, helping them to become stronger militaries. DSCA falls under the Defense Department and is led by Director James A. Hursch, a senior civilian with over two decades of security cooperation experience. Under his leadership, DSCA focuses on enhancing the U.S. relationship with various international partners, including those in Africa and Asia. DSCA also provides humanitarian assistance, disaster response, and capacity-building services to its international partners.
While many people think of DSCA as the Department of Defense’s foreign arms sale office, a closer look at the agency shows that it is much more than just that. It is a hub for the broader security cooperation enterprise, fostering relationships and supporting the development of the 20,000-strong security cooperation workforce and the 30,000-plus members of DSCU. Since its inception in 1971, DSCA has built a strong reputation as an ally of allied militaries worldwide. That reputation is based on various activities, including promoting and protecting US-led security cooperation programs that strengthen global stability, enhance foreign policy interests, and foster good relations between the U.S. and other countries, all of which are part of a holistic national security strategy.
For instance, DSCA’s Humanitarian Assistance program is a key component of a multi-agency effort that aims to reduce the risk of terrorism and minimize the impact of natural and manmade disasters. As a result, DSCA works closely with other agencies and departments to ensure the best possible results for a wide range of humanitarian aid efforts. Another major DSCA program is the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, which enables the Department of Defense to transfer US-made military equipment and supplies to foreign countries. Under the program, eligible foreign governments may purchase US-made military articles and services at prices that recoup the cost of providing the items and services to the buyer.
In addition to its FMS program, DSCA has several other security cooperation programs, including several specialized assistance initiatives. These include the defense support of civil authorities, which helps countries respond to crises involving civilians in a timely and efficient manner; a program that trains security forces in the use of drone technology; and a program that provides humanitarian assistance to those who have been affected by natural or manmade disasters.
Is DCSA part of the FBI?
The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense. It provides personnel vetting, critical technology protection, and counterintelligence. The agency’s headquarters is located in Quantico, Virginia. DCSA employs 13,500 personnel in 167 field offices across the country. These personnel conduct vetting investigations and adjudication functions for 105 government agencies. They also oversee 10,000 cleared companies.
DCSA conducts more than two million background investigations each year for civilian and military applicants and current employees, including federal contractors and consultants. DCSA conducts these investigations in support of a variety of suitability determinations, including U.S. Armed Forces personnel acceptance, government contract personnel assignments, and trusted access permissions for government facilities and information systems.
In addition to a large background investigation workforce, DCSA has a number of specialized teams that focus on specific functions. These include Industrial Security Representatives, Background Investigators, and Information System Security Professionals. These professionals are credentialed Special Agents and work with other federal agencies to provide a wide array of security services. They provide personnel vetting, national industrial security oversight, and counterintelligence for various government departments.
DCSA has a robust cyber security program and is working to integrate its cyber operations into the agency’s overall mission. It has also developed artificial intelligence to make issuance and review of security clearances continuous, allowing DCSA to better serve the needs of its customers. During the transition from NBIB to DCSA, the backlog of pending security clearance investigations dropped significantly. Today, the backlog is just 302,000 compared to 725,000 a year ago.
But that’s still a lot of work for the DCSA team. DCSA is trying to streamline processes, including implementing electronic application (e-App) and completing the transfer of personnel security data from multiple I.T. databases into the Defense Information Security System by October 1, 2020. One major change to the agency’s processes is a new website that makes it easier for individuals with insider threat information to report it. That website also directs those with such information to contact their facility security officer.