One small Defense Department program has a big global impact. The Ministry of Defense Advisors Program, or MODA, was established in 2009 during the height of the troop surge in Afghanistan. The goal was, and still is, to standardize the selection and training of the DOD's highest civilian performers and transform them into the world's best advisors, DOD officials said.
Since 2010, MODA has recruited, trained and deployed 600 senior DOD civilians, and is highly regarded by senior DOD leaders and ministerial heads around the globe, they added.
The program is now overseen by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency through the Defense Security Cooperation University and the Institute for Security Governance. MODA personnel work with other DSCA institution capacity building elements to ensure projects are aligned with other security cooperation activities, including global training and equipping and foreign military sales. Deployed personnel are embedded in partner-nation defense ministries to best achieve national security and foreign policy objectives.
The working definition of a ministry of defense advisor is a proven subject matter expert who can be an executive coach and mentor to a foreign partner. The advisor is not a liaison, consultant or tutor, officials explained, but rather is a relationship builder who demonstrates empathy, humility and respect while forming trust-based partnerships through daily interaction and personal engagement.
It's someone who can leverage those relationships to get to the root of the problem or capability gap and facilitate the partner's problem-solving effort, an official said. Last and most important, the official said, a minister of defense advisor is someone who enables enduring, local solutions that build partner capacity.
Finding local solutions to local problems is the primary objective of any ministry of defense advisor serving in a partner nation. Security cooperation professionals are trained to develop and implement a total capability for the partner, using all of the tools in the security cooperation toolbox. MODA program candidates and the advisors they become have complementary and unique roles in the security cooperation enterprise as the professionals who are able to influence and shape outcomes supporting the partner and American national security goals through their daily proximity to the partner and expertise.
Minister of defense advisors are increasingly important as the global U.S.footprint expands into territories that are important to the National Defense Strategy, national security interests and the security cooperation mission, officials said. Stepping up to the challenge to serve as a minister of defense advisor requires careful consideration of the following, they added:
- Candidates should be GS-13/14/15 permanent DOD civilian employees;
- Candidates will engage in high-visibility, ministerial-level advising; and
- Candidates will undergo six to seven weeks of training, which will include the Strategic Advisor Course.
Interested candidates should submit the following as part of their application package to mailbox firstname.lastname@example.org:
- A cover letter summarizing why the candidate would be a good fit;
- A narrative chronological resume;
- A current SF-50 with social security number and birthdate redacted;
- References from the candidate's current supervisor and at least one supervisor from any previous deployments; and
- Component approval.
Minister of defense advisor opportunities can be found here.