Joint Staff and Yale collaborate to better security force assistance

WASHINGTON- Earlier this month, a team from the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance (JCISFA) and five students from Yale University culminated a semester’s worth of collaboration aimed at changing security force assistance.

Yale students traveled to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and delivered the tool to JCISFA’s director, U.S. Army Col. Paul Riley, and his staff.  

Over the course of two days, Yale students demonstrated the tool, explained its qualitative and quantitative elements, described potential gaps and made recommendations for future refinements and improvements to the tool contained in a 60-page report. Utilizing an existing RAND tool known as the Security Cooperation Prioritization and Matching Tool, the Yale Team selected eight cases of varying geographic locations and periods of time post World War II to conduct a historical validation of the tool. This included South Korea, Colombia, Liberia, El Salvador, Philippines, Vietnam, Panama, and Mali.

As part of Professor Clare Lockhart’s Practical Challenges in Reform, Transition and Reconstruction Contexts class, five Yale University students set out to develop a security force assistance predictive analysis tool to identify the environments in which a properly resourced and designed security force assistance program will impact stability in a nation. 

The goal of the tool is to provide analysis that can help national-level policy makers determine where to employ security force assistance. For the purposes of the tool, success is defined as the extent to which security force assistance improves stability in the nation receiving the assistance.

This process led to some unexpected findings. For example, the tool predicted a propensity score of security force assistance success in Colombia of 67 percent and 19 percent for Panama. One would expect, based on these scores, that Colombia was significantly more likely to experience improved capability in its defense sector as a result of security force assistance. However, both countries experienced notable improvements in their capacity after security force assistance was provided. Both were considered successes.

JCISFA is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff activity that supports the strategy, policy, planning and integration of security force assistance capabilities into the current and future Joint Force to advance joint warfighting. 

JCISFA also provides analytical and technical support to assess capability and readiness gaps in warfighting areas within their area of expertise. The team also advises and assists other U.S. Government departments and agencies in security force assistance doctrine, best practices, and proven tactics, techniques and procedures to prepare for and conduct security force assistance missions.

For now, this leaves the security force assistance community of interest and policy makers with a new method to better understand security force assistance as well as eight expertly researched and analyzed cases. “Our partnership with Yale University is mutually beneficial to these gifted graduate students and the Joint Force. By studying and producing products like this one and leveraging Yale’s intellectual and analytical capacity, we are making significant contributions to the Joint Force's body of knowledge on security force assistance," said Riley. 

"Yale students and faculty, for their part, gain valuable insights from Joint Force national security practitioners like JCISFA and are given the opportunity to research and write on actual national security questions currently facing the Joint Staff," he added.

This partnership with academia is a way to inform the next generation of policy makers and JCISFA will continue to partner with Yale University’s Jackson Institute to further study and better integrate security force assistance as a joint warfighting capability, said Riley.


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