State Department Wants to Speed Up Military Exports

May 19, 2023

The U.S. State Department said Thursday it’s looking for a way to speed up internal processes for exporting tens of billions of dollars worth of military equipment to foreign sources. 

In a fact sheet entitled, “Retooling Foreign Military Sales for An Age of Strategic Competition,” the State Department said, “The time has come to reassess and adapt security cooperation to meet new and emerging challenges.”

The move comes as the process has revealed the slowness of getting U.S. weapons into the possession of Ukraine’s military for its war against Russia.

The new plan, which underwent an internal review by the State Department, involves the U.S. “anticipating comparable demands for its neighbors and making anticipatory policy decisions” for allies’ future military purchases.

The plan also calls for more training for military attaches stationed at embassies that are closely involved in allied countries’ military sales. 

There are two essential ways in which foreign governments purchase arms from U.S. companies such as General Dynamics, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. They either go directly through negotiated sales between a government and the company, or through foreign sales typically contacted via a Defense Department official at the U.S. embassy in that nation’s capital. Both require U.S. government approval.

U.S. arms exports increased by 49% in fiscal 2022, to $205.6 billion.

Direct military sales by U.S. companies rose by 48.6% in fiscal 2022 to $153.7 billion, according to the State Department, while sales arranged through the U.S. government rose 49.1% to $51.9 billion.

And as of March 3 of this year, the Defense Department says the U.S. has sent more than $30 billion worth of military gear to Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022.

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