Estimating Propensity for Successful Security Cooperation

Snapshot: SC Propensity Scores

Security cooperation is central to the work performed by Foreign Area Officers. Joint Publication 3-20 defines security cooperation as "[a]ll Department of Defense interactions with foreign security establishments to build security relationships that promote specific United States security interests, develop allied and partner nation military and security capabilities for self-defense and multinational operations, and provide United States forces with peacetime and contingency access to allied and partner nations."

While in Brazil, I updated the RAND Corporation's Security Cooperation Prioritization and Propensity Matching Tool. This algorithm utilizes 66 inputs (from various open-source databases) to calculate an overall security cooperation propensity score for each country, reflecting the likelihood that U.S. security cooperation efforts with those countries will be successful. The RAND Corporation released 2013 and 2016 editions (available at, and I utilized their user manual to generate an updated version in 2019, available for download below (caveat: I could not update seven of the 66 inputs, since those databases no longer exist, are no longer accessible, or those organizations now use other variables). The image above is a snapshot from one of the tabs ("top sheet"), reflecting overall propensity scores for the first set of countries listed alphabetically, which includes a color scale across those scores and categories for the 66 inputs.

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This is a useful tool for identifying mismatches between U.S. funding for security cooperation and propensity for successful security cooperation (SC), or high-cost/low-return efforts. I have written some Unclassified//FOUO analysis on SC in SOUTHCOM drawing from this updated product, focusing on SC efforts in Mexico and Colombia. I am also drafting an unclassified analysis paper on this topic right now focusing on the Philippines, with the intent to publish that material in the coming months.

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©2020 by Matthew Allen Hughes