Powder Keg of the 21st Century?

Is the DoD’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program fueling the Powder Keg of the early 21st century?

Missile pods for Turkey. Missile upgrades for Pakistan. Jet fuel sales. Possible aircraft sales in the area of $900 million for Iraq.

And one of the Navy’s newest — the littoral combat ship — possibly to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

We thought the FMS was the Manheim Auto Auction — the CraigsList — of DoD. Apparently, we were mistaken.

According to the FMS, “Responsible arms sales further national security and foreign policy objectives by strengthening bilateral defense relations, supporting coalition building, and enhancing interoperability between U.S. forces and militaries of friends and allies. These sales also contribute to American prosperity by improving the U.S. balance of trade position, sustaining highly skilled jobs in the defense industrial base, and extending production lines and lowering unit costs for key weapon systems.”

All true, but Turkey looms on Iraq’s northern border, and concern continues to grow in the Middle East over relations other than those with Iraq. While diplomatically such sales can keep the U.S. tied to its allies (not sure if this is always a good thing), it seems the biggest advantage goes to the defense behemoths that make out like bandits. See “American prosperity” above.

Lose a contract bid or not selling much of an older system? No worries. Sell abroad. Better yet, sell to an entity into which the U.S. is pumping money. Why not siphon that money back to your company though the FMS program? Unstable region? All the better. They need your product, and DoD will help you sell it and take care of notifying Congress and writing up the contract. What a deal.

According one source “If we don’t [sell to these countries] someone else will.”


Opines a senior officer: “It’s important to keep these crooks in steaks and cigars.”
Well. That’s another way of looking at it.

Again, the jury is still out on this one.

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