Engaging the Private Sector

By LTC Michael McCullough

LTC Michael McCullough is the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) J53 Division Chief for Regional Engagements (South/East/Central Africa). Previously, he served as the Chief of Security Cooperation at U.S. Embassy Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of Congo. He also explored U.S. security assistance in the article A Case Study in Maximizing Security Cooperation Resources" in The Foreign Area Officer Journal of International Affairs.

Military security assistance as it is currently applied is an outdated, myopic approach. It is characterized by ambiguous funding timelines, stove piped information, and the lack of unified resource application.  The U.S. can significantly increase the efficacy of security assistance resourcing through a holistic approach, integrating private and federal programs.  

One of my greatest challenges as a security assistance officer (SCO) is an unpredictable budget. It is extremely difficult to plan long-term engagement, institution building, or funding transitions with a partner when we don’t have a long-term budget. Unpredictable budgets equal unpredictable plans. The vast majority of the resources that the U.S. provides partner nations are on an annual authorization cycle: Foreign Military Financing, International Military Education and Training, Counter Terrorism Partnership Fund, and section 1206 funding (Train and Equip). Annual funding and the absence of assessments (tied to future funding) create an environment where the objective becomes the expenditure of resources instead of the achievement of a sustainable capacity.

“The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

Access all of The Cipher Brief’s national security-focused expert insight by becoming a Cipher Brief Subscriber+ Member.


Related Articles

How Safe Would We Be Without Section 702?

SUBSCRIBER+EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW — A provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that has generated controversy around fears of the potential for abuse has proven to be crucial […] More