A top Pentagon official is calling to reform the approval process for selling military technology overseas as the U.S. approaches $40 billion in foreign military sales.
Federal agencies are straining to keep up with foreign demand for American weapons systems, and the U.S. needs to improve the process for approving sales, Vice Admiral Joseph Rixey told Reuters.
Rixey said the arms sale process is “not broken but it’s certainly burdened.” As director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which manages all arms sales with other countries, Rixey called for improvements to the process.
“We’ve got to make sure that we get better,” Rixey said, speaking to an audience at the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK.
Currently, the Department of State has to approve all sales of weapons to other countries, and that process sometimes take years to complete. Rixey said that the U.S. will approve around $40 billion in sales of military equipment to allies this fiscal year, down from $47 billion approved in fiscal 2015.
While approval of arms sales to other countries is down compared to last year, global demand for American military technology appears to be growing. In 2014, the U.S. sold $34 billion in weapons to other countries, up from $30 billion in 2013.
Rixey noted that improving foreign military sales doesn’t mean removing foreign policy debates from the process. “Anything that is in foreign policy review is actually part of the deliberate conversation,” Rixey said. “When we get stalled there, the system is not broken, but actually acting as intended. We’re having a debate about foreign policy.”
Spreading advanced military technology around the globe could damage the marginal advantage that comes with superior technology, according to global consulting firm Deloitte LLP.(RELATED: US Defense Strategy May Be On The Wrong Track, Leading Consultant Firm Says)
While the U.S. has focused on a strategy of innovation to gain advantage over other countries, the sharing of technology between nations has also increased. Last January, Deloitte reported that the sales of U.S. defense technology to foreign governments is rapidly increasing. The U.S. secured $46 million in foreign military sales contracts in 2015, more than double the amount received in 2010.
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