What is the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (US)?


The Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), as part of the United States Department of Defence (DoD), provides financial and technical assistance, transfer of defence matériel, training and services to allies, and promotes military-to-military contacts.

Security Cooperation (SC) is founded on a tradition of cooperation between the United States and other sovereign nations with similar values and interests in order to meet common defence goals. It consists of a group of programmes authorised by the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and the Arms Export Control Act, as amended, and related statutes by which the DoD or commercial contractor provide defence articles and services in furtherance of national policies and objectives.

Brief History

Founded in 1971, the Defence Security Assistance Agency was renamed the Defence Security Cooperation Agency effective 01 October 1998.

Foreign Military Sales

Foreign military sales (FMS) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) are two key programs included within Security Cooperation. IMET is conducted solely on a grant basis. FMS can be conducted through direct payments of foreign states or United States Foreign Military Financing (FMF). Foreign Military Sales division is the core activity of DSCA, and yearly sales are between US$30 and US$40 billion. In fiscal year 2020, US corporations sold $50.8 billion through FMS, and $124.3 billion through direct commercial sales.

FMS is a US government to foreign government agreement, and DSCA acts as agent for procurement mostly for American defence company and aerospace companies or for DoD stocks. On any given day, DSCA is managing “14,000 open foreign military sales cases with 185 countries,” the DSCA director Lieutenant General Charles Hooper explained at the Brookings Institution in June 2019.

FMS is managed and operated by DoD on a no-profit and no-loss basis. Countries participating in the programme pay for defence articles and services at prices which recoup costs incurred by the United States. This includes a fee to cover the cost of administering the programme.

Regional Centres

DSCA has five regional centres, including:

  • Africa Centre for Strategic Studies.
  • Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies.
  • George C. Marshall European Centre for Security Studies.
  • William J. Perry Centre for Hemispheric Defence Studies.
  • Near East South Asia Centre for Strategic Studies.

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