REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.: Strengthening global partnerships, building national defenses, solidifying military capabilities, enhancing the U.S. economy – it all involves the growing market of foreign military sales.
And for the Army, foreign military sales begin and end with the Security Assistance Command at Redstone Arsenal.
Known worldwide as USASAC and with the slogans “Strength in Cooperation” and “The Army’s Face to the World,” the organization’s influence in international military arenas continues to grow with each sale of aviation and missile weapon systems, and other military equipment. While typical Army organizations ended fiscal 2010 with reports on how much was spent, USASAC’s reports were focused on how much was earned.
“This was an extremely busy year for us in what we are doing to support and build up Iraqi and Afghanistan security forces, and Pakistan and coalition forces. On top of that, we execute foreign military sales with over 100 nations around the world,” Brig. Gen. Christopher Tucker, commander of USASAC, said. “We’ve had tremendous growth in terms of interest in U.S. equipment.”
In fiscal 2010, USASAC was involved in $14.6 million in foreign military sales. “That is the second highest sales year we’ve had in our history,” Tucker said.
“The highest was FY 2009, when we had $24.2 billion in foreign military sales. We had a couple of very high value cases that year. One of those was the Patriot sale of more than $6 billion in value. That was the single largest FMS case by a SAMD (Security Assistance Management Directorate) and it was AMCOM’s SAMD that supported it.”
Those two high sales years continue a growth trend, the brigadier general said.
“The trend continues to be an overall increase in FMS for the U.S. Army,” he said. “From FY 2003 to FY 2006, a four-year period, the Army’s total foreign military sales were just over $18 billion. For the four years of FY 2007 through FY 2010, we’ve had $63.5 billion in foreign military sales. It has tripled compared to the previous four years.”
Those figures should continue upward as the interest in purchasing Army capabilities continues among the nation’s international partners and partner nations continue in a good financial posture. True to that trend, recently DoD announced notification of $60 billion in potential sales to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. USASAC has about 350 employees currently managing about 4,600 FMS cases valued at more than $69 billion.
But even with factors remaining positive, the Army and DoD must continue to provide top-notch products, training and service. Foreign military sales is a competitive field with several other nations working to sell their military capabilities.
“The increase we’ve had over the past few years can be partially attributed to the quality of our equipment and the capability that our equipment provides to these nations,” Tucker said.
“Our systems are proven in battle. And we recommend a total package approach that provides equipment, spares and repair parts, a maintenance program, logistics capability and training.
Those things are integral to employing and maintaining these systems over time.”
USASAC was designated a major subordinate command of the Army Materiel Command in 1975, and leads AMC’s Security Assistance Enterprise. Its employees work with foreign customers as well as U.S. representatives in partner countries, Army representatives in global regions and combatant commanders in theater.
“Our success is based on a combination of factors,” Tucker said. “One factor is the continued support to the national strategy in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the support that we provide to partner nations that have requested U.S. Army equipment to support operations.”
Another factor has been an increase in the U.S. government’s 1206 transfer program, which uses U.S. appropriated funds to procure military equipment and training for partner nations.
“The program started in 2006 as another initiative to support international cooperation,” Tucker said. “This fiscal year, we’ve done over $200 million in cases under the 1206 program. Those funds were provided by the Department of Defense to procure equipment for nine partner nations.”
More than 140 nations submit requests to purchase U.S. equipment every year. Requests are reviewed by the Department of Defense, Department of State and, in some cases, Congress, which is given 30 days to review and concur with sale of equipment.
“There are a number of checks and balances that our government uses in review of FMS programs,” Tucker said, stressing that partner nations must ensure the safeguarding of equipment purchased from the U.S.
Selling Army equipment is a business transaction that carries political, strategic and economic significance.
“What we do strongly supports the development and the improvement of our vital partnerships, which gives us strong ties with nations around the world,” Tucker said. “It also supports the combatant commanders’ regional engagement strategy and theater strategy. Thirdly, it helps that country build its own internal capacity to defend itself. And fourth, it benefits U.S. industry. We work closely with life cycle management commands to build partnerships with industry.”
While USASAC manages foreign military sales requests, it works with the Security Assistance Management Directorates of each of the AMC life cycle commands to ensure each sale is supported by the Army.
“These directorates are USASAC’s interface into the life cycle management command,” Tucker said. “A letter of request comes into USASAC and we prepare documentation for the case. The technical data and costs for specific items that have to be procured is developed by the SAMDs and coordinated with the program executive offices. The SAMD is the link between USASAC and the life cycle management command.”
Besides new equipment, USASAC is also working to sell Army excess equipment to partner nations, a role that should increase with the drawdown in Iraq.
“A lot of nations have expressed an interest in procuring equipment the U.S. Army no longer is using in the active force, but that we maintain at our depots around the world,” Tucker said. “They can procure this excess defense equipment at significantly reduced cost and use it to build partner capability. For the U.S., this means we are able to reduce the amount of excess equipment being stored and reduce the end-of-life-cycle costs.”
The move of USASAC to Redstone Arsenal, which was required by the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005, has further enhanced the organizations efforts in foreign military sales. USASAC is benefitting from the synergy developed with its new Arsenal neighbors — the Aviation and Missile Command, and program executive offices for Missiles and Space, and Aviation, and the eventual addition of the Army Materiel Command, Tucker said. By Sept. 15, 2011, USASAC will be moved into its permanent headquarters on Martin Road in a complex that includes AMC.
“Implementing BRAC 2005 has allowed us to build a strong team here at Redstone,” Tucker said. “And we are simultaneously continuing to build a strong team in our logistics operations office in New Cumberland, Pa. We are blessed with a high quality work force able to keep working toward our mission during all these changes.”
USASAC’s worldwide mission to provide military equipment, training and support offers its employees plenty of daily challenges.
“The sun never sets on our customer,” Tucker said. “We are engaged with so many nations around the world. It’s 24/7 in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are always actions occurring that require the attention of our work force.”