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SMART Security Cooperation Objectives: Improving DoD Planning and Guidance


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The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) cooperates with U.S. interagency and foreign counterparts around the world in pursuit of common security interests. Those interests are fairly easy to understand at a broad level: regional stability, counterterrorism, military professionalism, etc. Translating these interests into effective action, however, is a complicated endeavor requiring rigorous planning. Since the mid-1990s, security cooperation has become increasingly well embedded in strategic DoD planning. Objectives of various types (end states, goals, etc.) exist at many planning levels, including policy, regional, country, and activity. While aligning and rationalizing these objectives within various plans has improved, making them detailed enough so that leaders can understand the extent to which security cooperation efforts are succeeding or failing remains particularly challenging. The 2010 Security Cooperation Reform Task Force identified poorly defined country objectives as a significant weak link in prioritizing resource allocation. It highlighted a need for DoD to develop country strategies and associated SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and results-oriented, and time-bound) objectives to ensure that limited security cooperation resources were properly directed for greatest effect. The Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management also references the need for SMART objectives in its August 2015 textbook, The Management of Security Cooperation.



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