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The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) needed an independent evaluation of the use of security cooperation as a toll for great power competition (GPC) (later defined as Strategic Competition)Security Cooperation (SC) encompasses all DOD interactions, programs, and activities with foreign security forces (FSF) and their institutions to build relationships that help promote US interests; enable partner nations (PNs) to provide the US access to territory, infrastructure, information, and resources; and/or to build and apply their capacity and capabilities consistent with US defense objectives. It includes, but is not limited to, military engagements with foreign defense and security establishments (including those governmental organizations that primarily perform disaster or emergency response functions), DOD-administered security assistance (SA) programs, combined exercises, international armaments cooperation, and information sharing and collaboration.


The Inspirata team designed the evaluation to include more than 150 security cooperation (DOD) and security assistance (Department of State) programs. Using clearly defined criteria, we worked with Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security Cooperation to narrow down the list of 150 programs to identify a subset of these programs for more rigorous evaluation .


We deployed a robust cross-functional team consisting of evaluation industry experts, methodologists, researchers, former DOD SC professionals, cross-agency and interagency specialists, and regional experts. This all-star cast reviewed, conducted, and analyzed a comprehensive and diverse series of cross-agency data, documents, and interviews. Our evaluation followed the data without predetermination or bias, developing a truly independent and strategic series of findings, conclusions, and recommendations that focused on perspectives of oversight from DSCA; and opportunities for the DOD to further focus security cooperation authorities, strategies, plans, and initiatives to achieve strategic objectives.

Our team of professionals evaluated current DoD strategies and planning constructs related to competition; Chinese, Russian, and US competition strategies in particular case study countries; and current competition-focused SC initiatives to further develop theories of change, logical frameworks, and indicators that the broader DOD and the security cooperation community can use to create and monitor strategies, plans, and programs focused on competition. Our evaluation team focused its efforts on a series of 12 country case studies based on current security cooperation initiatives in each of the five  Combatant Commands. We identified differences in competitive approaches based on factors such as partner networks, US competitive advantage, and near-peer competition. In total, Inspirata conducted over 300 interviews and focus groups across the national capital region, five Combatant Commands, and 12 partner nations.

This evaluation required the use of diverse forms of both qualitative and quantitative data to enable triangulation of data that supported the final findings and recommendations. Detailed and targeted evaluation questions were critically important in terms of ensuring proper scoping of the evaluation and enabling the combination of robust qualitative and quantitative methods. Our robust approach to generating targeted evaluation questions aligned with our rigorous analytical processes and ensured a continuous focus on answering the DOD’s most pressing questions and most prominent evaluation objectives. Our focused evaluation questions minimized the potential for unnecessary scope creep and/or evaluation schedule delay. 


Our analysis has already resulted in an enterprise-wide rethinking of how best to utilize funding authorities, programs, activities, and supporting technology to achieve DOD business objectives. Additionally, our analysis is in the process of being submitted to Congress and is expected to result in: improved technology usage and supporting IT processes, and enhanced security procedures; updated DOD policy, improvements to DOD Doctrine, and enhancements to the measuring of progress toward strategic competition related objectives.

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