A US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III flies past during a media preview ahead of the Singapore's Airshow on Feb. 9. (Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)
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SINGAPORE — The US deputy assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs is at this year’s Singapore Airshow to promote US defense companies in the regional market.
Kenneth Handelman said he believes buying American helps promote regional stability, build military-to-military relationships, and is part of the U.S. “rebalance” to Asia policy, often referred to as the “Asia pivot.”
The US foreign military sales program provides for all the follow-on training and support a company needs to build a solid relationship with the buyer, he said during an interview with Defense News.
“We are here to promote the ‘American brand’ in a region that has become increasingly important on all fronts: economic, diplomatic, and strategic,” he said.
Handelman is part of a larger Washington delegation attending the Singapore Airshow. They include Frank Kendall, the US undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics; Kenneth Hyatt, acting undersecretary of commerce for international trade; and Michael Huerta, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. The team also includes military leadership from the US Pacific Command, including Air Force Gen. Herbert Carlisle, commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces. Carlisle also participated as a speaker at the Asia Pacific Security Conference being held alongside the airshow.
The delegation will hold consultations on defense trade issues and promote more than 163 US companies exhibiting at the airshow. The delegation will advocate for the overseas marketing efforts of US companies bidding on commercial and defense contracts, engage with senior government officials to promote defense sales of particular importance to the US, discuss how progress toward export control reform is supporting our partners and allies, and consult governments on broader strategic cooperation issues, such as advancements in aviation safety and efficiency.
Export control reform is moving forward quickly, Handelman said, with the possibility of completion in the “autumn of this year,” he said, adding that past bureaucratic inertia held up many sales. “You don’t really need an export license for a bayonet, do you?” he said.
In his current position, Handelman manages the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls and provides overall policy guidance regarding the transfer of defense technologies to other countries through commercial defense trade, and serves as a key link between the State Department and the Defense Department.
The Singapore Airshow is being held Feb. 11-16 and will include both defense and commercial aviation companies exhibiting their wares. It is considered the biggest aviation show in Asia.