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DSCA: Building Partner Capacity (BPC)

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While perhaps better known for implementing Foreign Military Sales (FMS), the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) also implements Building Partner Capacity (BPC) programs within the Department of Defense. The phrase “Building Partner Capacity” came into use within DSCA in 2007. It’s simply a collective term used to characterize approximately 15 programs that the agency administers for both the Department of Defense (DoD) and the State Department (DoS).

Essentially, BPC is the provision of defense articles (equipment) and training to another sovereign nation to give it the capability to conduct counterterrorism, counter drug, and counterinsurgency operations that align with U.S. interests. The articles and training provided may also support U.S. military and stability operations, multilateral peace operations, and other programs. The BPC programs that DSCA administers are distinct from traditional FMS because a foreign nation is the recipient but not the customer. The U.S. government is the customer, fully funding the programs to aid partner nations to build their capacity.

This distinction is key. It distinguishes BPC programs from the broader FMS activities that DSCA administers. Put another way, traditional FMS programs are funded by foreign government funds or appropriated funding provided through DoS programs such as Foreign Military Financing (FMF). Most BPC programs are funded by the Department of Defense and authorized by Title 10 of the United States Code. Thus, they are often referred to as Title 10 programs to denote their legal authority and funding source.


Master Sgt. Steven Kroll (leftt) and Sgt. 1st Class. Ronald Bootes instruct Armenian students during a Warrior Leader Course, March 12, 2014. Six military members from U.S. Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization (USASATMO) and the Kansas Army National Guard formed a Mobile Training Team that led a Warrior Leader Course at the Warrant Officer School in Yerevan, Armenia from 24 Feb. – 1 March. Forty-six privates and sergeants of the Armenian army took a condensed version of the month-long U.S. Army Warrior Leadership Course. Focusing on basic leadership and soldier skills, this “lite” version still had the same expectation, to provide a crucial step towards these Armenian soldiers becoming better non-commissioned officers who will have a better understanding of how to apply basic leadership, training management, and warfighting skills in any environment in which they operate. USASATMO is a key organization under U.S. Army Security Assistance Command and is often considered the the U.S. Army’s “Face to the World” as many times USASATMO soldiers are the first and only U.S. Army members some foreign militaries have ever seen and interacted with. U.S. Army photo

DSCA administers Title 10 BPC programs under the policy direction of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD(P)). The agency role for these programs includes   program management, planning and execution, financial management, program policy development and implementation, and other assistance as required in order to achieve BPC program objectives.

According to Jim McGaughey, the division chief for DSCA’s BPC division, “We classify BPC as the supporting elements that assist partner nations building the capacity of their security forces to secure their borders and enhancing their capability to conduct counterterrorism, counter drug and counterinsurgency operations, or to support U.S. military and stability operations, multilateral peace operations, and other programs. These supporting elements include providing our partners with defense equipment and services, training and education, advisor support and support for minor construction.”

BPC programs have a significant impact, yet they are relatively low-cost tools. They address U.S. strategic interests while helping a partner country develop capabilities that enhance its own security.

BPC programs have a significant impact, yet they are relatively low-cost tools. They address U.S. strategic interests while helping a partner country develop capabilities that enhance its own security, McGaughey said. Such activities range from long-time BPC programs like the Coalition Readiness Support Program to the more recently established Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF).

No Title 10 BPC activity better exemplifies the capacity building concept than the Global Train and Equip program. Established in 2006 in Section 1206 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Global Train and Equip is commonly referred to as “Section 1206” or just “1206.” The program provides equipment, supplies, and training to build the capacity of foreign military forces to conduct counterterrorism operations or to participate in or support military and stability operations in which U.S. forces participate. Section 1206 funds can also be used to build the capacity of maritime security forces to conduct counterterrorism operations.

Unlike FMS and FMF programs, which can take years to develop and execute, Section 1206 is a quick response program through which equipment and training are provided expeditiously. DSCA works to provide partner nations with a capability within 12 to 18 months of notifying Congress. Sometimes a capability may be provided in as little as two months, according to Section 1206 Program Team Leader Brandon Denecke. “In the last few years, we’ve been very successful in meeting that goal, providing the defense articles and services to the Security Cooperation Officers in the partner nations within 12 to 18 months.”

Fulfilling the mission to ensure that a partner nation attains a specified capability is the main driver for DSCA, but the agency’s Section 1206 team is under additional time constraints, because DoD funds for BPC programs are generally available for a period of 12 months. This “window” of funding availability obliges DSCA’s 1206 team to work to a tight timeline.

“It forces us to very rapidly identify the requirements,” Denecke said. “We have to vet them, notify Congress, and then work with the service implementing agencies to expedite contracting actions to ensure we obligate those dollars in the year of appropriation. It’s an inherent force within the program to ensure we work quickly.”

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Eric Tegler is a writer/broadcaster from Severna Park, Md. His work appears in a variety...