Bush Team Reviewing Defense Trade Policy. (Government Policy Notes)

Article excerpt

The Bush administration in 2002 began a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of U.S. defense trade policies in an effort to identify changes needed to protect the country's national-security and foreign-policy interests.

This assessment, National Security Policy Directive 19--a classified presidential order directing the review--is scheduled to be finished in May.

The review's objectives, according to an unclassified public announcement released late last year by the White House, ate to ensure that defense trade, technology security and acquisitions policies:

* Support the security of the United States.

* Contribute to peace and stability, including regional security.

* Support U.S. nonproliferation and counter-terrorism policies and strategies and international commitments.

* Control critical military technologies.

* Protect such technologies from diversion.

This is not the first attempt to revise U.S. export-control regimes. More than a decade ago, the previous Bush administration initiated a review of the U.S. Munitions List, which was completed during the Clinton administration. At best, this review resulted in token, minor reductions in the list.

In 2000, the United States announced the Defense Trade Security Initiative, which was the first major post-Cold War attempt to revise the U.S. export-control system. This system is a series of safeguards designed to prevent the inappropriate export of sensitive military technology by requiring a license for the export of certain munitions and defense services. The Departments of Defense and State are responsible for determining what can and cannot be exported.

Although welcomed by industry and supported by the Pentagon, the expected efficiencies from DTSI have not materialized. It is widely believed that the reason DTSI has not worked is because it made only procedural modifications to an already complex export system, as opposed to what is really needed to break with the old Cold War thinking-a complete paradigm revision.

Unlike the DTSI, the NSPD-19 is a complete review of export procedures. It will encompass all aspects of the U.S. defense trade and identify foreign market access barriers that impede U.S.-Allied defense industrial cooperation.

The review aims to maintain America's industrial, technological and war-fighting advantages over its potential adversaries, while suggesting methods to facilitate friends' and allies' efforts to increase capability and interoperability for more effective coalitions.

For instance, discussions will include the top U.S. weapons-acquisition programs, for which increased industrial participation or greater access to U.S. technology by allies--and vice versa--would improve military effectiveness of U.S. coalitions. Also included are ways to facilitate fundamental research, exploitation of commercial developments, increase allied defense spending and burden sharing. The review is meant to determine the effectiveness of current policies and procedures such as DTSI and develop recommendations for continuing, changing or discontinuing the initiative, as well as consider additional initiatives as appropriate. However, all proposed modifications will be assessed against the potential risks to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.

The Departments of Commerce, Defense, State and other federal agencies have been tasked with conducting the review. …