White House approves action plan for new conventional arms transfer policy

By Justin Doubleday / July 16, 2018 at 3:21 PM

President Trump has approved an implementation plan to carry out the new conventional arms transfer policy aimed at streamlining the international weapon sales process and boosting American jobs.

Tina Kaidanow, acting assistant secretary of state for the bureau of political-military affairs, confirmed the implementation plan had been approved in a call with reporters from the Farnborough Airshow in the United Kingdom. Kaidanow is leading the U.S. delegation at the show.

In April, Trump signed a national security policy memorandum outlining a new arms transfer policy that calls for the consideration of “economic security” when weighing the benefits of a potential weapon sale. The idea is to boost American jobs and more aggressively advocate on behalf of the U.S. defense industry by competing for sales in key regions against firms from China and Russia.

"The action plan is really just a further fleshing-out, if you will, of some of the basic premises that were already in the executive order itself and in the NSPM and so on," Kaidanow told reporters today.

A fact sheet provided by the State Department says the implementation plan's three lines of effort are "prioritizing strategic competition," "organizing for success," and "creating conducive environments."

The U.S. government will work with partners and allies to identify what capabilities they need and initiate a "whole-of-government effort to expedite transfers that support these essential foreign policy and national security objectives," the fact sheet states. The United States will also "compete with adversaries" by pitching allies and partners on "alternatives to foreign defense articles in order to maintain U.S. influence in key regions," it continues.

U.S.-made systems will be made more competitive by building "exportability into design and development, expanding support for non-Program of Record systems, and by incentivizing increased production capacity and timely delivery," according to the document. Agencies will also work to update policy and regulatory frameworks like the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, it states.

Meanwhile, U.S. government officials will do more to promote foreign sales of U.S. equipment and "exploring mechanisms to reduce financial barriers to the procurement of American defense goods and services," the fact sheet states. However, the United States will also ensure policies like offset requirements do not put American jobs at risk, the document continues.

Finally, the U.S. government is also expected to establish time lines and milestones for conventional arms transfers, according to the fact sheet.

The Aerospace Industries Association praised the implementation plan in a statement.

"We are gratified to see our recommendations for strategic focus, whole of government coordination, and enhanced accountability feature prominently in the newly released CAT Policy implementation plan," AIA President Eric Fanning said. "It is absolutely essential for our government and our industry to get to the right answers on defense trade with our allies sooner, so that we can continue to 'outpartner' our adversaries. Going forward we commit to expanding our already robust dialogue and partnership with the government's security cooperation enterprise to sustain and grow the competitiveness of U.S. defense exports."