Express Lane for US Arms Sales

Earlier this month the nations of the world gathered together to craft the first arms trade treaty that would govern the sale of ammunition. One of the largest road blocks to the treaty is the United States. Political pressure from special interests groups and financial pressure from the defense industry are behind these road blocks. Not to mention that the US is the world’s arms dealer, and is projected to sell a record breaking $60 billion worth in arms to the world this year.

The world’s largest arms dealer now has an express lane for weapons sales. The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program facilitates the sale of United States defense equipment through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). Bloomberg reports that the Defense Department has allocated $100 million in funds for a program called Special Defense Acquisition Fund, which is designed to “provide speed and flexibility” to the FMS program:

The Defense Department will coordinate with other U.S. departments in advance and use the fund to buy military equipment from U.S. suppliers, such as body armor, night-vision devices, armored vehicles and small patrol boats in anticipation of demand from allies and partners, Taylor said. Otherwise, the agency must wait for a buying nation to sign a letter of agreement with the U.S. before it can place orders, he said.

The export fund was established in 1981 and stripped of money when defense budgets were trimmed in the 1990s “as part of the peace divided,” Taylor said.

The Pentagon fund has been used in the past to export items such as radios, ammunition, anti-tank missiles, Stinger missiles, and trucks to countries in the Middle East during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, according to the Pentagon agency’s website.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said it’s critical to improve the capacity of U.S. allies and partners around the world to police their neighborhoods. The Pentagon’s strategic guidance issued in January calls for “sharing the costs and responsibilities of global leadership.”

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