A Capabilities-Based Strategy for Army Security Cooperation
This report documents research conducted for the U.S. Army on the feasibility of adopting a “niche capabilities” approach to multinational force compatibility (MFC) with non-allied armies. It is the latest in a series of RAND Arroyo Center studies, from a project entitled “A Capabilities Based Strategy for Army Security Cooperation,” supporting the Army’s efforts to bolster MFC with the spectrum of potential coalition partners.

It is increasingly difficult for the Army to ensure compatibility with the range of armies with which it may be asked to operate in the future. Army Transformation is introducing new capabilities that cannot be duplicated by most potential coalition partners. At the same time, unpredictable ad hoc “coalitions of the willing” are replacing alliances as the dominant form of multinational operations. Many members of these coalitions are less capable than traditional allies, and they often have little history of cooperation with the U.S. Army. Preparing to operate with them is therefore challenging.

Army planners working on the problem of multinational force compatibility require a planning framework to guide and focus the service’s long-term compatibility investments with these less capable armies. This report defines and describes such a framework, which we call the Niche Capability Planning Framework. It provides a conceptual template for integrating the various considerations, ranging from U.S. Army capability gaps, to the politics of collaborating with foreign armies, to the coordination of Army and Department of Defense security cooperation activities, implicit in a strategy for cultivating compatible niche capabilities in non-core partner armies.....