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Confronting an era of persistent global conflict with stable or declining defense resources, the United States needs partners to augment their own security-related capabilities and capacity. The U.S. Air Force has worked for many years with allies and friendly nations to build strong and enduring partnerships, reinforce other nations' capacities both to defend themselves and to work in coalitions, and ensure U.S. access to foreign territories for operational purposes. The activities conducted by the Air Force range from training, equipping, and exercising with others to holding bilateral talks, workshops, and conferences and providing education. Yet, it is often challenging to specify how much and in what ways these activities have contributed to U.S. policy objectives.

This report builds on prior RAND research that developed a conceptual framework for assessing the Air Force's security cooperation efforts. In this follow-up study, researchers worked with Air Force leaders to better understand and attempt to overcome certain obstacles to the implementation of RAND's proposed framework. This report presents the results of surveys of and focus groups with a variety of Air Force leaders on security cooperation assessment. It presents a refined framework, based on these results, that focuses on four questions — Why assess? What to assess? How to assess? Who should assess? — and provides examples of how the framework could be applied to two example Air Force programs, the Operator Engagement Talks and the Military Personnel Exchange Program. The authors conclude with a discussion of problems identified and recommend a four-part strategy for establishing a new, integrated approach to Air Force security cooperation assessment.

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

This report is part of the RAND technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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