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Research Questions

  1. Who belongs in the security cooperation workforce?
  2. Which competencies are needed in the security cooperation workforce?
  3. How can the security workforce be divided into different job families?
  4. How much experience might be required at various stages of career development in the workforce?

Security cooperation's importance, scale, and complexity have grown substantially in recent years, but efforts to develop and manage the Department of Defense (DoD) security cooperation workforce have lagged behind. This study informs the development of career models for the security cooperation workforce by assessing requirements for security cooperation competencies and experience, identifying potential job families, and recommending measures to improve workforce management over the long term. The study identified 21 security cooperation competencies, including five core competencies that appear in most security cooperation jobs: security cooperation strategy, security cooperation analysis, cultural awareness/international affairs, security assistance case management, and global perspective. The study identified four potential job families within the security cooperation workforce: international affairs, security assistance implementation management, international training management, and financial management. The study team also explored the amount of experience that might be required of incumbents. It might be feasible to require several years of security cooperation experience for advancement to senior positions within the civilian workforce, but the analysis could not determine how much experience would be necessary. With regard to the military workforce, it would be feasible to require only limited amounts of prior security cooperation experience, and then only for senior positions. DoD should focus on improving the quality of management information describing the workforce, refine the proposed competency framework, and impose at most limited requirements for prior security cooperation experience until better data allow systematic correlation of prior experience and performance.

Key Findings

Defining the Security Cooperation Workforce

  • Available data describing the security cooperation workforce are incomplete and inadequate for managing it.
  • Twenty-one security cooperation-specific competencies emerge from this analysis, of which five appear common to almost every job: security cooperation strategy, security cooperation analysis, cultural awareness/international affairs, security assistance case management, and global perspective.
  • The workforce appears to be divided into different job families: international affairs, security assistance implementation management, international training management, and financial management.

Finding and Increasing Security Cooperation Experience

  • The civilian workforce appears to have relatively deep reservoirs of security cooperation experience, though individuals' levels of experience may vary greatly.
  • The military workforce seems to have less security cooperation experience, but brings needed operational experience to the security cooperation community.
  • Modeling indicates that it is possible to increase the general level of security cooperation experience throughout the workforce, though for the military workforce doing so could reduce incumbents' level of expertise with regard to other important Department of Defense functions.

Recommendations

  • To the extent that future competency models continue to reflect the importance and prevalence of the five competencies, they should continue to form the core education, training and development efforts for the security cooperation workforce.
  • The single most important initiative to improve management of the security cooperation workforce is improving the quality of data available to policymakers. In the short term, the best way to obtain this information is through a survey of the potential workforce. In the longer term, the Department of Defense can modify data collection and databases to acquire this information.
  • Until more is known, impose at most limited requirements for prior security cooperation experience on the military and civilian workforce.

This research was sponsored by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the unified combatant commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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