WASHINGTON — The Pentagon agency charged with shepherding US arms sales to foreign nations had a high of $46.6 billion in sales in fiscal 2015, up from an average of $40 billion annually in recent years, its chief said Tuesday.

Vice Adm. Joseph Rixey, Defense Security Cooperation Agency director, said the spike is linked to the war against the Islamic State, though sales typically have an inverse relationship to OPEC oil prices.

Outside of a spike in 2012 due attributed to F-15 fighter jet sales to Saudi Arabia, 2015 is the biggest yet for foreign military sales, Rixey said. DSCA processed $34.2 billion in sales in 2014, and $27.8 in 2013, Rixey said.

"It's just been volume, there's not been one big sale," Rixey said, speaking at the Association of the US Army's annual meeting. "We've had to double down contracting officers just to keep up the pace, and they barely make the pace."
The Army's security assistance programs totaled $20.1 billion across 150 countries in fiscal 2015, up from $20.7 billion last year and $10.6 billion the year before, according to Maj. Gen. James McDonald, chief of Army Security Assistance Command.

"We're doing a lot of relationship building," McDonald said. "What we do is bring our 'Army strong' to your country. When you buy from us, you pretty much get the exact same equipment, service and capability that we give our soldiers."

Army Materiel Command's Gen. Dennis Via, and Army acquisition executive Heidi Shyu, discussed foreign military sales earlier in the day. Via said there has been a slow down in the Mideast and an uptick in sales from Eastern Europe and in the Pacific region.

DSCA is working through a backlog of 13,000 active cases from 171 countries, and gets about 140 new requests each month, said Rixey, who spoke at the Association of the US Army’s annual meeting on Tuesday.

To streamline the process, and keep pace with demand, Rixey last year launched DSCA's Strategic Plan: Vision 2020. For speedier responses, the effort now includes forecasts of probable requests, and a reorganization by region meant to prioritize the needs of the regional combatant commanders.

Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.

More In AUSA