WASHINGTON — The U.S. sold $55.4 billion worth of weapons to allies and partners around the globe in fiscal 2019, a nearly flat change from the previous fiscal year.
Of that total, $48.25 billion came in payments from partner nations, $3.67 billion from grant assistance programs such as Foreign Military Financing and the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative, and $3.47 billion for cases funded under Department of Defense Title 10 grant assistance programs, such as train and equip programs or the Afghan Security Forces Fund.
While another major jump did not happen in FY19, Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, the head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, expressed confidence that the various efforts to reform his agency would continue to pay off.
“We, the United States, will continue to embody what makes us great; transparency in our business practices, responsiveness to our partners needs, integrity in all that we do and commitment to not only advance our national security objectives but those of our partners as well," Hooper said at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference Tuesday.
Casting arms transfers as a key tool for the era of great power competition, Hooper said: "We’re gonna win this thing, folks. Working together — industry, private sector, the implementing agencies, DoD, State [Department] — all of us. We’re gonna win this thing.”
Sales totals can look volatile year over year, as large procurements like fighter jets can have an outsized impact on the top line. In FY16, sales totaled $33.6 billion; FY15 totaled just more than $47 billion; and FY14 totaled $34.2 billion.
But three years of strong numbers represent a trend, benefiting both from reforms to the FMS process begun during the Obama administration and a prioritization on arms sales by the Trump administration, which views them as an economic driver.
“Security cooperation has been elevated to a tool of first resort for U.S. foreign policy," Hooper said.
The State Department OK’d $67.9 billion in weapon requests in FY19, covering 64 individual procurement requests from 28 different countries and a NATO consortium. Those FMS cases will be reflected in the coming years and serve as a sign that American arm sales totals will likely remain strong going forward.
Since taking over at DSCA, Hooper has been public with his desire to reform how the security cooperation enterprise teaches and matures its workforce. That goal became closer last month with the official launch of the Defense Security Cooperation University, an idea Hooper first suggested at the 2017 AUSA conference.
Hooper called the creation of the university a “vision” he has had for a long time, and noted it is the first “career field education institution” since the establishment of the Defense Acquisition University in 1991.
“I’m excited for what 2020 has in store for us,” he said.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.