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Research Questions

  1. When can Army security cooperation have the greatest impact?
  2. How can the Army implement an assessment, monitoring, and evaluation framework to ensure that its security cooperation activities have the greatest impact?

The U.S. Army conducts security cooperation activities with partner nations to achieve several objectives, including building relationships that promote U.S. security interests and developing partners' capabilities for self-defense and multinational operations. Evaluating the effectiveness of these activities, however, has been difficult. To examine this issue, this report addresses two questions: when can Army security cooperation have the greatest impact, and how should the Army assess, monitor, and evaluate security cooperation? The authors conducted a literature review of both security cooperation and international development assistance studies; they identified factors corresponding to when assistance was provided and where it was effective. They followed this up with a statistical analysis in which they reviewed more than 9,000 security cooperation activities conducted between 2009 and 2014 for how well they aligned with lessons learned from the literature review. They found that Army security cooperation generally favors countries in need of greater engagement, countries with which the United States would like to improve relations, and countries for which engagement will be the most productive. And while Army security cooperation activities have aligned fairly well with what previous analyses have found contribute to effectiveness in both security cooperation and international development assistance, the lack of systematic assessment, monitoring, and evaluation across activities makes it difficult to know whether the activities effectively met their objectives. Thus, the authors present a framework and portfolio tool to help the Army implement an assessment, monitoring, and evaluation process that is in line with current Army doctrine and emerging guidance from the Department of Defense.

Key Findings

  • Army security cooperation generally favors three types of countries — those in need of greater engagement (e.g., countries with high domestic instability), those with which the United States would like to improve relations (e.g., countries with low political alignment with the United States), and those with which greater engagement will be most productive (e.g., stable democracies with strong military capability).
  • Army security cooperation activities align well with lessons learned from previous studies and have been found to contribute to effectiveness in both security cooperation and international development assistance.
  • Lack of systematic AM&E across Army security cooperation activities makes it impossible to examine whether, as a whole, previous activities met their objectives effectively.
  • International development agencies have developed methods for monitoring and evaluating its assistance activities that are calibrated to program and partner country needs and constraints. These strategies are relevant for Army AM&E.
  • Adopting a more strategic and analytically rigorous approach to security cooperation can improve the Army's ability to plan and evaluate security cooperation activities.


  • All security cooperation activities should involve some form of monitoring and evaluation, determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Both qualitative and quantitative evaluation of security cooperation activities should be used for greater benefits.
  • Return on investment in learning should drive assessment, monitoring, and evaluation methods.
  • Strong collaboration with partner nations is crucial for effective AM&E.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7 and conducted by the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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