The U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, known as "the Army's Face to the World" because of its close working relationships with more than 140 countries and security organizations around the world, oversees and manages over 6,500 foreign military sales cases in its security assistance portfolio.
With hundreds of lines of requirements and decision points to consider, and customers who might be on the other side of the globe, timeliness and efficiency may be sacrificed. Without dedicated monitoring and ongoing assessment of these cases, small problems can quickly become larger complex and challenging issues.
To combat that challenge, USASAC developed the Security Assistance Liaison Office, staffed with military representatives from partner countries. USASAC officially opened the SALO program office in February 1991, at their New Cumberland, Pennsylvania location, and a mere two hours from our nation’s capital, where many country embassies are located.
Now 30 years later, Brig. Gen. Douglas Lowrey, the commander of USASAC, realized that many allies and partners had limited knowledge of this unique and highly effective program. While meeting with senior foreign leaders in Washington DC, Lowrey decided to fill that gap in knowledge and extended an invitation to see first-hand the SALO program.
“Talking to USASAC leaders I realized that we needed to get these senior foreign leaders up to New Cumberland so they could see all the great work being done by these SALOs, from 13 different countries, which directly impacts the success of their FMS cases,” Lowrey said.
Within days the staff from USASAC’s New Cumberland office, planned, coordinated, invited, and hosted eight partner defense force attachés, and their senior staff at the SALO office at New Cumberland.
The purpose of the on March 23 visit was to provide a face-to-face experience with the SALO program, and the foreign military liaison officers, who effectively and efficiently manage their respective countries FMS cases.
Lowrey provided the opening remarks and expressed appreciation to the defense attachés and their staff for traveling and attending the briefing to develop a deeper understanding of how their country could benefit by assigning a SALO to keep track of their cases.
According to Michael Casciaro, the G-4 logistics management director at USASAC NC, one of the benefits of SALOs being located in Pennsylvania is that is where the country case managers who handle FMS execution issues such as supply, requisition, transportation delivery, and budget/finance are located, which allows for easier interface and coordination.
He also emphasized that countries that have high-value FMS cases, especially ones focused on aircraft, helicopters, tracked or wheeled vehicles, would significantly benefit by having a SALO working side-by-side with the USASAC team.
Since the SALOs are able to access similar databases and systems to the country teams, SALOs are able to run real-time reports, to track and monitor country cases and assign priorities as needed.
Squadron Leader Christiaan Meddens, the Royal Australian Air Force SALO, shared how their team was able to prevent, through timely and effective analysis, a major delay to a significant case. He did this by working closely with the country case manager and support agencies. The SALO team’s efforts resulted in maintaining operational capabilities and significant financial savings for the Australian Defense Force.
Command Sgt. Maj. Sean Rice, the senior enlisted advisor at USASAC, noted that although SALOs are all military officers, that USASAC was in collaboration with the senior enlisted leaders of Army Materiel Command, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, and the Security Force Assistance Command to present options and opportunities for non-commissioned officers of our partners and allies.
The SALO program manager, Terra Good, also stressed the importance of face-to-face relationships formed over work and social interactions. On a regular basis, these foreign officers interact with not only with the military and civilian community on the military post they are assigned to, but also members of the community where they live.
“Building trust with our SALOs, understanding cultures and having these wonderful international relationships gives all of us a better understanding of one another’s challenges and viewpoints,” Good said. “This is a very special program and I’m honored to be able to help our partner forces modernize their programs, while building partnerships for life.”
Editor’s note: SALO positions are funded by the country’s FMS sales, known as Title 22 funds, and are not funded by U.S. taxpayers.