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Report: Why U.S. Military Equipment Sales are Lagging and How to Fix It


In a significant move, the United States State Department is taking decisive steps to accelerate the approval process for selling military equipment to allied countries, according to a new report.

Recent research by Maiya Clark, a senior research associate at the Heritage Foundation's Center for National Defense, puts forth crucial insights into the alleged root causes of the challenges faced in arms sales to allies.

While Secretary of State Antony Blinken has led the charge to provide timely support to friends and partners amid global challenges, Clark's research findings demonstrate the underlying issues that she says must be addressed to ensure effective arms transfers to allied nations.

Clark's study highlights a significant stumbling block in arms sales—the protracted duration for the U.S. government to approve these transactions.

This delay has far-reaching consequences, particularly for nations like Ukraine and Taiwan, requiring immediate security assistance.

According to Clark, these countries have resorted to seeking alternative sources to fulfill their defense needs, amplifying the urgency of rectifying the situation.

To tackle these obstacles head-on, the State Department has devised a comprehensive 10-point plan to enhance the efficiency of arms sales. Clark points out that this strategic roadmap includes adopting a regional approach to prioritize sales based on U.S. national security goals.

The ultimate objective is to slash delivery time to select U.S. allies by up to two years, ensuring expedited support and bolstering their defense capabilities.

However, Clark says expediting the approval process alone is insufficient to address the core issue.

Her research underscores systemic problems tied to sluggish contracting processes and a lack of production capacity within the U.S. defense industry. These factors contribute to delays in delivering the purchased weapons to our allies.

Clark's study highlights a glaring disparity between the current production capacity of the U.S. defense industry and the mounting demands from countries like Ukraine. For instance, while U.S. plants can only churn out a limited number of artilleries shells each month, the daily consumption by Ukrainian forces far exceeds this output.

According to Clark, the U.S. Army's planned increase in shell production falls short of meeting Ukraine's immediate needs.

To surmount these challenges, Clark suggests a pivotal step: leveraging the Defense Production Act (D.P.A.). This act provides mechanisms for expanding defense production through loans, loan guarantees, and purchase commitments.

In addition, Clark underscores the importance of sustained demand and incentivizing industry planning for increased production capacity.

According to Clark, the State Department's decisive actions aim to strengthen alliances by ensuring timely access to critical defense resources. By expediting arms sales to our allies, the U.S. enhances its security and fortifies its national defense capabilities in the face of evolving global challenges.

Related Story: Pentagon Proposing New Steps to Speed Up Foreign Arms Sales

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