Organization HIstory

"We will reinvigorate and modernize our alliances and partnerships around the world [and] double down on building partnerships throughout the world, because our strength is multiplied when we combine efforts to address common challenges, share costs, and widen the circle of cooperation.”

—Interim National Security  Strategic Guidance, 2021

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency was first established on September 1, 1971 as the Defense Security Assistance Agency (DSAA).  The Department of Defense established DSAA under the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy (OSD-P) to direct, administer, and supervise security assistance programs including Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and the International Military Education and Training (IMET) Program.  DSAA was delegated its authority from OSD-P and implemented its activities pursuant to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and Foreign Military Sales Act of 1968 (amended as the Arms Export Control Act of 1976).

DoD re-designated DSAA as the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on October 1, 1998 after adding a variety of DoD-funded Security Cooperation programs to the Agency’s mission set under the Defense Reform Initiative.  These Security Cooperation programs considerably expanded the Agency’s portfolio and focused DSCA toward relationship-based partnerships with foreign governments.  The updated mission-set diversified the Agency’s stakeholders, thus forging an essential rapport with many other federal agencies across the U.S. Government and the private sector. 

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2021, DSCA now leads a Security Cooperation enterprise of more than 20,000 personnel, and provides policy, legal, financial, legislative, programmatic, and weapons system expertise to stakeholders across the U.S. interagency.  DSCA ensures the United States remains the global partner of choice in an increasingly competitive environment by prioritizing DSCA’s values-based approach to partnerships and continuously emphasizing Security Cooperation as a national security tool of first resort.