Magazine article National Defense

Opaque Restrictions Hurt U.S. Sales Abroad

Magazine article National Defense

Opaque Restrictions Hurt U.S. Sales Abroad

Article excerpt

Recent media reports noted that India intends to procure military equipment from "strategic partners" that are able to provide cutting-edge weapons and equipment without major restrictions. Meanwhile, the United States foreign military sales program, while justifiably deliberate in its policies, suffers from opaque processes and burdensome restrictions, forcing countries like India to search elsewhere for equipment.

When the United States provides our allies the opportunity to acquire U.S.-made military equipment and services, it improves our own security, benefits coalition operations, solidifies bilateral relationships, and creates a more cost-effective Defense Department already impacted by an austere fiscal environment. Considering the powerful advantages foreign military sales bring to the United States, it is important to understand the competitive nature of the international marketplace. We need to acknowledge we're not the only country out there looking to reap those benefits and we need to address our competitive disadvantages.

A customer-centric business is more likely to gain market share in a competitive environment. Unfortunately, according to a report from the Aerospace Industries Association, the U.S. market share in the aerospace and defense export business was roughly the same in 2014 as it was in 2009. We must make our FMS system transparent, efficient and predictable to ward off concern that other international suppliers will leverage their own system's flexibility to grow their own market share with sales to previously consistent U.S. customers.

India, a strategically located South Asian nation, has been recognized as one of our major defense partners. At the same time, according to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his country is also laying the "foundations for deeper defense and economic ties in years ahead" with Russia through the aforementioned agreement worth $ 10 billion in air defense systems, stealth frigates and utility helicopters. These are assets the United States defense industry is just as, if not more capable of producing and delivering to our strategic and vetted international defense partners.

The Philippines, a key ally in the United States' rebalance to Asia and the Pacific, has recently made a rebalance of its own, moving away from us in favor of China and Russia. To announce this change in foreign policy, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte cited arms sales as the first tangible shift away from the United States, stating he would only seek military equipment and services from Russia and China. …

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