The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses and organizations to reassess many of the day-to-day operations they perform. The Security Assistance Command is no different.In response to COVID-19, USASAC joined the fight to reduce the spread of the virus by maximizing telework, incorporating social distancing in buildings, and issuing cloth face masks to the workforce.“Our employees’ safety remains our top priority. Right now, returning to our building is the exception, not the rule,” USASAC Executive Director Myra Gray said.Even with these measures, the mission of USASAC stays the same, she said. USASAC remains the leader in the Army security assistance enterprise, developing and managing security assistance programs and foreign military sales cases to build partner capacity, support Combatant Command engagement strategies and strengthen U.S. global partnerships. Strengthening alliances and partnerships also remains one of the top Army lines of effort, as it enables interoperability.“I think the workforce has done an excellent job of continuing to meet the mission,” USASAC Division Chief Tracy Engler said. “They have remained flexible and understanding, which I think allows them to solve problems we have never encountered before.”Engler said security assistance work can be accomplished just about anywhere with an Internet connection and a phone. However, meeting virtually rather than in person with allies and partners does present some challenges, especially with countries where the culture highly values face-to-face interaction.“Foreign military sales is built on trust, and that trust is typically built during country engagements,” she said. “A lot of work and relationship building happens during sidebars and post-meeting events. Virtual meetings will not fully replace our normal way of doing business, but it allows us an opportunity to share information and maintain a connection with our foreign partners during this difficult time.”USASAC Country Program Manager Summer Paquette recently participated in the Apache Program Management Review for the Republic of Korea. The first “virtual meeting” between both countries happened via teleconference. “There were some hurdles,” Paquette said. “We used an interpreter, so at times it was hard to know when to stop talking so the information could be translated to the Korean delegation. Despite those difficulties, the meeting was successful and productive with our goals remaining the same.”USASAC’s goal is customer-centered by addressing concerns, questions or issues the partner has and coming up with solutions to answer them. Traditionally, in-person meetings are invaluable to FMS cases, but in the midst of this pandemic, virtual meetings might be the best way to do business for the foreseeable future?“Communication is key,” Paquette said. “More frequent emails and phone calls are very important to let the partner know they are valued and that we are still working hard to make sure their requirements are completed, questions answered and issues addressed.”Virtual meetings have also required the workforce to maintain odd hours. In Paquette’s case, her customer, Korea, has a 14-hour time difference making scheduling meetings difficult. So far, all the meetings have occurred outside of regular business hours in the U.S., which can place extra strain on the team.“I have made several changes due to COVID-19, the main being my schedule,” Paquette said. “We work from home now, which helps with the flexibility of my schedule. When dealing with two very different time zones, it’s night here, and day there, so with me working from home, I’m available as questions come in rather than having to wait until the next day to answer them.”Virtual meetings are the next best thing while dealing with the pandemic, she added. USASAC will continue to adapt and learn from each virtual meeting in order to meet the goals of both the organization and the FMS partners.“Being known as ‘The Army’s Face to the World’ is testament to the fact that we have largely depended on security assistance enterprise members meeting one-on-one with allies and partners throughout the FMS process,” Gray said. “This has ensured that the Combatant Commands’ strategic requirements and the partners’ needs are met to ensure security and stability in their regions. I am proud to say the workforce has remained flexible and adaptable and found new ways to support our critical mission during these challenging times.”