The Roles and Functions of Overseas Security Assistance Offices Need To Be Clarified

Gao ID: ID-81-47 May 29, 1981

A study was conducted to determine the activities of the overseas Security Assistance Offices. An examination was made of the need to change a section of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to better recognize what these offices actually do. The role of the Unified Commands in the security assistance management process was reviewed, and the reasons for and against consolidating the security assistance function with the defense attache function in overseas missions were weighed.

The Act authorizes three types of offices that include the: (1) Military Assistance and Advisory Group which is responsible for logistics management, transportation, fiscal management, and contract administration; (2) Office of Defense Cooperation which performs accounting and other management functions; and (3) Defense Attache Office which performs security assistance management functions in countries where the President determines that it is economically feasible. All three types of offices perform basically the same duties but their involvement in these functions varies in degree and scope. The offices perform activities which relate directly to assisting the host country obtain equipment, services, and training under the security assistance programs. They also are providing advisory assistance on a routine basis. The assistance provided is directed at improving the host country's ability to procure, install, use, and maintain its military equipment and systems. Assistance is also given in force structure, force development, and operations. Some offices devote considerable staff resources to performing activities not specifically related to managing the security assistance program, but which are defense related. This is a result of the offices being the only U.S. military organization in a particular country. In addition, the offices also: assist and coordinate combined military exercises conducted within the host country territorial boundaries, provide in-country support for U.S. military retirees, and sponsor or attend ceremonial functions.


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