Security assistance growth prompts restructuring

By ADRIANE ELLIOTSeptember 2, 2015

A significant transformation is on the horizon for one of the Army's critical security assistance programs.

Facilities Security Forces-Training Advisor Group will be restructured as a part of the Ministry of Interior-Military Advisory Group, in response to the former program's growing mission.

The MOI-MAG will transition away from the administrative control of U.S. Central Command to the Army Materiel Command, and will become a subordinate organization to AMC's Security Assistance Command. The MOI-MAG mission is to strengthening relationships, provide training, engineering advisory support, explosive ordnance advisory support and participation in the International Military Education and Training program.

FSF-TAG Program Manager Col. Gary McGinnis said the growing mission was "fueled by the heightened security environment and the real threats that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is protecting itself against, in, around and within its borders."

As the Saudi MOI's need for training and skills increased, so did FSF-TAG roles and responsibilities. In addition to its military advisory role, the MOI-MAG operates under the State Department within the Office of Program Management of the Ministry of Interior and has interagency pacts with America's FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Treasury Department and other agencies.

OPM-MOI operates under the authority of the Technical Cooperation Agreement signed by the U.S. Secretary of State and the Saudi Minister of the Interior on May 16, 2008, and extended on Jan. 16, 2013, for 10 additional years. The Saudi Arabian critical infrastructure is threatened by highly adaptive and irregular threats from extremists, state-backed operatives, criminal organizations and natural hazards. Interagency reps work side-by-side with their Saudi counterparts, providing training and mentor support. MOI-MAG will soon introduce forward support engineer support teams to assist with technical engineering. Additionally, MOI-MAG works with the Saudi special security forces, general services aviation command and border guards.

FSF-TAG is headquartered in Saudi Arabia and was created from a 2008 agreement between then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Saudi Arabia's Minister of Interior Nayif Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud after a failed terrorist attack attempted by al-Qaeda on Feb. 24, 2006, which targeted the Abqaiq oil processing facility. McGinnis said the program, or foreign military sales case, was renewed in 2013 for another 10 years by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, extending the program through 2023.

"The continued goal of this program provides technical knowledge, advice, skills and resources to help protect the kingdom's critical infrastructure," McGinnis said.

This infrastructure ranges from oil pipelines and some of the largest oil refineries in the world, to water desalination and electric power plants.

The protection of those facilities has a considerable impact on the global economy and stability throughout the Middle East, and advances the strategic relationship between the United States and the Saudi Arabia. McGinnis said the renewal and expansion of FSF-TAG and the MOI-MAG later this fall speaks volumes about the continued commitment to U.S.-Saudi relations.

"Even with the policy differences between our two governments, the strengths and common security cooperation goals far outweigh the differences," McGinnis said.

He said the mutual agreement of then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and the CENTCOM and AMC commanders to realign the MOI-MAG under AMC was a logical conclusion. As a major command and force provider, AMC is better enabled than the theater-level unified combatant command CENTCOM to supply manpower resources. MOI-MAG and its subordinate sub-programs is expected to be fully operational by fall.

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