WASHINGTON (AA) : The Biden administration announced Thursday that it is working to speed up arms sales and deliveries to foreign allies amid mounting challenges abroad posed by Russia and China.
The US sells roughly $45 billion in arms, equipment and training to foreign partners via its Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, with completed purchases growing 49% from 2021 to 2022, the State Department said in a statement.
In announcing the policy shift, the department pointed to “shifting global security conditions,” listing the Russian war in Ukraine in particular as well as “managing competition in the Indo-Pacific,” an allusion to the growing great power competition in the Asia-Pacific region between Washington and Beijing.
“The time has come to reassess and adapt security cooperation to meet new and emerging challenges,” the department said.
A new 10-point plan will now guide the FMS process, streamlining it to better align with “an age of heightened strategic competition.”
“While 95 percent of FMS cases are evaluated and approved by the Department of State within 48 hours, FMS 2023 examined how the Department’s review process can be improved for the remaining 5 percent of cases, which may entail complex policy issues and extensive interagency coordination.
Together with DoD, we will support U.S. industry as it scales up to meet growing global demand among Allies and partners in the years ahead,” it said, referring to the Department of Defense.
While the State Department oversees the FMS program, arms sales are approved by Congress and are then implemented via the Pentagon and private defense contractors.
The new plan calls for moving away from evaluating sales on a purely case-by-case basis and adopting a regional approach to save time and “further improve interoperability between U.S. and foreign partners by anticipating comparable demands for its neighbors and making anticipatory policy decisions for these countries’ potential future FMS purchases as well.”
It will also prioritize FMS sales for nations identified as priorities under the US’s national security strategies.
The State Department will also seek to expand “innovative and flexible financing mechanisms” for nations to finalize arms sales.