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DoD International Acquisition & Exportability (IA&E) and ChatGPT

Like many people these days, we are curious about the quality of ChatGPT answers. One of my DAU faculty colleagues and I decided to ask it a few questions about a couple of DoD IA&E topics.…

DoD International Acquisition & Exportability (IA&E) and ChatGPT


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  3. DoD International Acquisition & Exportability (IA&E) and ChatGPT
DoD International Acquisition & Exportability (IA&E) and ChatGPT
Frank Kenlon (Prof of Int'l Acq, DAU/DSMC-Int'l)
Like many people these days, we are curious about the quality of ChatGPT answers. One of my DAU faculty colleagues and I decided to ask it a few questions about a couple of DoD IA&E topics.

Question #1

Our first question was "What is Defense Exportability?"

Here's how ChatGPT responded:

Defense exportability refers to the suitability of a defense product or system for export to other countries. It refers to the ability of a particular defense technology or equipment to be transferred or sold to foreign nations without violating any legal or policy restrictions imposed by the exporting country.

Several factors contribute to the exportability of defense products:

1. Security Concerns: Exportability is influenced by security considerations, such as the potential risk of sensitive technologies falling into the wrong hands. Countries often have restrictions on exporting certain defense-related items to nations with known security risks or embargoed countries.

2. International Agreements and Regulations: Exportability is also affected by international agreements and regulations, such as arms control treaties, non-proliferation agreements, and export control regimes. These agreements and regulations establish guidelines and restrictions on the export of defense technologies and equipment.

3. Compatibility and Standardization: Defense products that are compatible with international standards and interoperable with systems used by potential partner nations are more likely to be exportable. This allows for easier integration and cooperation between armed forces of different countries.

4. Technology Transfer: The ease of technology transfer and the level of restrictions imposed on it play a significant role in defense exportability. Some countries may have policies that limit or regulate the transfer of advanced or sensitive technologies, which can impact the exportability of defense systems.

5. Affordability and Market Demand: The cost-effectiveness and market demand for a defense product also influence its exportability. Countries are more likely to export defense systems that offer competitive pricing and meet the specific requirements and needs of potential buyers.

Exportability is an important consideration for defense industries and governments, as it can contribute to economic growth, enhance diplomatic relations, and promote military cooperation with other nations. However, the export of defense products is subject to careful scrutiny to ensure that it aligns with national security interests and international obligations.

We were impressed! From a DAU Professor perspective with substantial expertise and experience in defense International Acquisition & Exportability (IA&E) matters, this is a high quality response. If I were grading it, I would give this initial ChatGPT answer an "A".

Question #2

The next question I posed was harder, moving from general knowledge to more specific knowledge about DoD's defense exportability efforts.

"Who is responsible for Defense Exportability within the US Department of Defense?"

Chat GPT's response:

"Within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the responsibility for defense exportability primarily lies with several entities and agencies. Here are the key organizations involved:

1. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA): The DSCA is responsible for overseeing and coordinating defense exportability efforts within the DoD. It manages the U.S. government's security cooperation and foreign military sales programs, which involve the export of defense articles and services to foreign governments and international organizations.

2. Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA): The DTSA, part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, focuses on safeguarding U.S. defense technology and ensuring its responsible transfer to international partners. It assesses the exportability of defense technologies, reviews export license applications, and provides guidance on export control regulations.

3. Defense Export Control and Compliance (DECC): DECC is an organization within the DoD that supports the Department's export control efforts. It promotes compliance with export control laws and regulations, provides training and guidance to DoD personnel and defense contractors, and helps ensure that defense exports are conducted in a manner consistent with national security interests.

4. Defense Technology Security Administration - International Traffic in Arms Regulations (DTSA-ITAR): DTSA-ITAR specifically focuses on the export of defense articles and services covered under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). It provides policy guidance, processes export licenses, conducts compliance reviews, and enforces ITAR regulations.

5. Military Departments and Defense Agencies: Each military department (Army, Navy, Air Force) and defense agency within the DoD has its own responsibilities related to defense exportability. They assess the exportability of specific defense articles, collaborate with defense contractors, and work with the aforementioned agencies to ensure compliance with export control regulations.

These entities work together to manage defense exportability within the U.S. Department of Defense, ensuring that defense articles, technologies, and services are exported in a manner that supports national security objectives while promoting responsible defense cooperation with international partners."

Candidly, this is not a very good answer. While DSCA plays a role in defense exportability matters, it is definitely NOT "responsible for overseeing and coordinating defense exportability efforts within the DoD" – the correct answer is the Office of Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition & Sustainment). DTSA is mentioned twice rather than being combined into one statement about their defense exportability responsibilities, and the content of the answer only describes the export control aspects of DTSA's mission (e.g., DTSA's role as Executive Secretary of the National Disclosure Policy Committee is not mentioned). However, the most glaring error is ChatGPT's statement about the "Defense Export Control and Compliance (DECC)"; in fact, their is no such DoD organization. Moreover, Department of State (Directorate of Defense Trade Controls) is responsible for this area, not DoD (DTSA).

Sorry ChatGPT, I have to give you a grade of "D" on this answer.

Question #3

The hardest question I asked ChatGPT is a short essay question we pose to our ACQ 380V (International Acquisition Management) students in the online, asynchronous part of the course after watching a video on Defense Exportability Integration.

Describe the key differences between the Cooperative Program Personnel (CPPs) and Foreign Liaison Officers (FLOs) often encountered in DoD PMO and IPT work environments."

Chat GPT's response:

"In DoD PMO (Program Management Office) and IPT (Integrated Product Team) work environments, Cooperative Program Personnel (CPPs) and Foreign Liaison Officers (FLOs) are two distinct roles with different responsibilities and objectives. Here are the key differences between them:

Origin and Citizenship:

CPPs: Cooperative Program Personnel are typically U.S. military or civilian employees who are assigned to work with international partners. They are U.S. citizens and represent the U.S. government's interests.

FLOs: Foreign Liaison Officers are military or civilian personnel from foreign nations who are assigned to work with the U.S. DoD. They represent their respective countries' interests and collaborate with U.S. counterparts.

Nationality and Cultural Background:

CPPs: CPPs are predominantly American and possess a deep understanding of U.S. defense policies, procedures, and regulations. They have a cultural background rooted in the United States.
FLOs: FLOs come from foreign countries and bring their own cultural perspectives and knowledge. They have expertise in their nations' defense systems, procedures, and policies.

Roles and Responsibilities:

CPPs: CPPs act as liaisons between U.S. government entities, such as the DoD and the PMO/IPT, and international partners. They facilitate communication, coordination, and cooperation in joint projects, ensuring that U.S. interests are upheld.
FLOs: FLOs serve as representatives of their countries within the DoD PMO/IPT settings. They provide expertise on their nations' capabilities, requirements, and objectives, and collaborate with U.S. counterparts to achieve mutual goals.
Language Skills:

CPPs: CPPs primarily operate in English, as they are U.S. citizens and work within U.S. government structures. They may have some familiarity with foreign languages, but fluency in English is essential.
FLOs: FLOs are typically fluent in their native language and often have a strong command of English to facilitate effective communication with their U.S. counterparts.

Reporting Lines:

CPPs: CPPs are typically integrated into U.S. PMO/IPT reporting structures and follow the established chain of command within the U.S. government.
FLOs: FLOs usually report to their respective embassies or military headquarters in their home countries, in addition to coordinating with their U.S. counterparts.

It's important to note that the specific roles and responsibilities of CPPs and FLOs may vary depending on the context, agreements, and projects they are involved in. These differences highlight the contrasting backgrounds, perspectives, and objectives of the two roles within DoD PMO and IPT work environments."

While Chat GPT's answer is well written and seemingly authoritative, it is quite wrong regarding Cooperative Program Personnel (CPPs). CPPs are not "U.S. military or civilian employees who are assigned to work with international partners." For the most part, CPPs are International Cooperative Program (ICP) partner nation personnel assigned to work in Cooperative Program Offices (CPOs) located in the U.S., where they are an integral part of the CPO team that implements an ICP international agreement. While there are a few situations where ICP international agreements involve U.S. military or civilian personnel CPP assignments to CPOs located in a ICP partner nation rather than the U.S., this is an exceptional case.

While the FLO aspects of the ChatGPT response are largely correct, the fact that the CPP answer is fatally flawed results in a grade of "F."

ChatGPT "Learning"

ChatGPT provides users with a feedback path to improve the quality of their answers. If you click the "thumbs down" button, a text box appears with three 'check box' choices: a) This is harmful/unsafe; b) This isn't true; and c) This isn't helpful (you can click on all three if you want).

I decided to give it a try, clicked "This isn't true," and provided a text input with a brief correct response which included a citation (with URL) of DoDD 5230.20, "Visits and Assignments of Foreign Nationals." ChatGPT immediately spit out a revised answer which corrected the 'fatal flaw' aspects of its first answer, but unfortunately it still contained a few key inaccuracies. I would change my grade on the second answer to "D+ or C-."

If I had continued to 'back and forth' with ChatGPT, I think I could have coached it to a "B or better" level answer, but I decided to spend my time finishing this blog instead rather than teaching ChatGPT about ICP CPPs.


Like many of you, I have been reading about the performance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) software based on Large Language Models (LLMs). My faculty colleagues and I were pleasantly surprised at the quality of ChatGPT's answer to Question 1 – a "foundational knowledge" question about DoD IA&E. However, the quality of ChatGPT's answers to more complex IA&E topics posed in Questions 2 and 3 was very poor. Be careful using it – you could end up like the NYC lawyer who based his plaintiff's brief to the court on ChatGPT responses about impressive sounding case precedents and the law. "There was just one hitch: No one — not the [defendant's] lawyers, not even the judge himself — could find the decisions or the quotations cited and summarized in the brief. That was because ChatGPT had invented everything."

Like Wikipedia, ChatGPT's 'content improvement approach' on a specific topic appears to be based on: a) the willingness of users to provide feedback that will improve the quality of its answers; and b) the hope that the people who do this are subject matter experts who are actually knowledgeable about the topic rather than generalists just 'winging it' or (even worse) malicious responders. Unlike Wikipedia articles, ChatGPT responses do not provide source citations which can be cross-checked for accuracy and additional content which, from my perspective, is a major flaw.

Based on my initial experience using it, I view ChatGPT "AI" responses similar to Wikipedia articles on a given topic; often helpful at a familiarization level and best used at the beginning (rather than the end) your research efforts. Kind of a 'sweep of the internet' AI tool that everyone can use for free at any time to obtain immediate answers to specific questions posed by the individual asking them. Just make sure not to 'run with scissors' by using ChatGPT responses as an authoritative source rather than a cuing device to aid in further research and analysis, particularly if your objective is to obtain "deep knowledge" in a specialized area like DoD IA&E.

Until next time,
Prof K