The U.S. Defense Department has made a number of internal changes to remove bureaucratic red tape and make weapons and equipment sales to foreign governments easier and faster.
“We are working to make U.S. government decision-making simpler, faster and more predictable for our partners,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said during a June 28 speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington.
“This means better anticipating partner needs ahead of time, fast-tracking priority sales, and incorporating U.S. exportability requirements up front in the development process,” he said.
As the Pentagon prepares to slash $487 billion from planned defense spending over the next decade, it believes foreign military sales of U.S.-made systems could help make up for declining domestic purchases and keep the defense industry healthy.
DoD has created a “Special Defense Acquisition Fund,” allowing it to start procuring “long-lead, high demand items in anticipation of partner requests,” Panetta said.
“We’ve also built Expeditionary Requirements Generation Teams that send acquisitions experts abroad to help our allies better define and better streamline their requests,” he said.
DoD has also proposed a “Defense Coalition Repair Fund” that would allow the Pentagon to repair equipment in anticipation of partner requests.
Panetta, who said these efforts are a priority of DoD and the State Department, also called on Congress to remove legislative hurdles that could block some of these initiatives.
Part of the Pentagon’s new military strategy calls for building the capacity of partner nations. Panetta emphasized this message during visits to Singapore, Vietnam and India earlier this month.
In India, Panetta announced that Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter would lead “an effort at the Pentagon to engage with Indian leaders on a new initiative to streamline our bureaucratic processes and make our defense trade more simple, more responsive and more effective.”
The goal of this new approach is to speed up the process of these types of requests by foreign governments.
“We are working to try to get changes in the export control act to try to eliminate some of the barriers that are there, to loosen up on some of the bureaucracy that’s involved with regards to those laws,” Panetta said at a June 6 press conference in New Delhi.