US Department Of Defense Unveils Overhaul To Foreign Military Sales Process
Today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III approved a tasking memo from the Department of Defense (DoD) Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Tiger Team that highlights six key FMS pressure points and directs implementation of recommendations to improve and accelerate the Department's institutional processes to execute FMS cases. The efforts of the Tiger Team and the Department's commitment to improve the FMS system advance the direction of the 2022 National Defense Strategy to break down barriers to working with allies and partners.
The Tiger Team analyzed representative case studies at all phases of the FMS process, illuminated best practices to benchmark, and identified systemic challenges endemic in DoD's FMS ecosystem. The team reviewed the findings of historical reform efforts, and also solicited and incorporated feedback from allies and partner nations and U.S. industry on ways to improve the efficiency of DoD's implementation of the FMS process.
Secretary Austin instructed FMS-implementing agencies to:
• Improve the Department's understanding of ally and partner requirements. To accelerate discussions with allies and partner nations about FMS requirements and reduce delays during the FMS case lifecycle, the Department will change the way it organizes, trains, and equips for security cooperation, including by establishing a Defense Security Cooperation Service on par with the Defense Attaché Service.
• Enable efficient reviews for release of technology. To reduce barriers to the export of key capabilities, the Department will review and update relevant policies and empower accountable officials to improve the efficiency of the review and release of technology to allies and partner nations. The Department will also continue to support interagency efforts focused on technology review and release.
• Provide allies and partner nations relevant priority capabilities. To better enable allies and partner nations to support their own national security needs, the Department of Defense will develop methodology to facilitate Non-Programs of Record.
• Accelerate acquisition and contracting support. To advance FMS acquisition prioritization and award timelines for allies and partner nations, the Department will establish contract award standards and metrics as well as develop associated process maps to monitor the FMS prioritization and award process.
• Expand Defense Industrial Base (DIB) capacity. To reduce production timelines, the Department will incorporate ally and partner requirements into ongoing efforts to expand DIB production capacity. This will include developing a comprehensive study to incentivize DIB investment in production capacity and building surge capability for high-demand, low-supply platforms, systems, and services. The strategy will include use of multi-year contracts; enhanced use of the Special Defense Acquisition Fund; five-year predictive analyses of partner demand; and sustained engagement with the DIB.
• Ensure broad U.S. Government support. Recognizing that DoD is part of the broader U.S. Government FMS ecosystem, the Department will work with the Department of State and other stakeholders, including Congress, to identify opportunities to improve the FMS process.
To implement these recommendations and ensure elevation of emergent FMS issues to senior leadership, the Department established an FMS Continuous Process Improvement Board (CPIB), which will act as an enduring governance structure within the Department. The Board, which reports to the Secretary of Defense, will provide accountability in implementing the recommendations, measuring impact, and continually pursuing areas to improve the overall process.
FMS is a fundamental tool of U.S. foreign policy and national security and strengthens the United States' unmatched network of allies and partners. Under the FMS program, the U.S. Government uses DoD's acquisition system to procure defense articles and services on behalf of U.S. allies and partner nations. The program is administered by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) and is authorized by the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), as overseen by the Department of State.
The Secretary established the FMS Tiger Team in August 2022 to address historical inefficiencies in the United States' transfer of defense articles and services to foreign allies and partners. The team, comprised of senior representatives from across the Department of Defense, is co-led by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Dr. Radha Plumb and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Sasha Baker.