Micaela Burrow on September 2, 2022
The Department of Defense (DOD) has stepped up efforts to eliminate red tape in making arms sales, a policy that could require overhauling defense production, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
In August, the Pentagon created a task force, dubbed the “Tiger Team,” that aims to identify bureaucratic inefficiencies that hamstring weapons sales to allies as U.S. adversaries, including China and Russia, appear increasingly belligerent, the WSJ reported, citing a senior defense official. The Pentagon’s goal will be to replenish the arsenals of allies who have sent weapons to furnish Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion faster, even though the U.S. has had difficulty replacing its own stocks.
“It’s about the mechanical steps in the process,” a senior defense official told the WSJ. “How can we do a better job of bringing inefficiencies out of the system that will apply to all of the countries that we work with?”
Rising Chinese aggression toward Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has underscored the need for the U.S. and allies to maintain robust storehouses, a defense official told the WSJ. That need prompted the department-wide review, which Pentagon deputy secretary Kathleen Hicks authorized in August, the Pentagon official said.
However, the Pentagon is slow to facilitate weapons transfers, according to lawmakers, industry leaders and government officials, driven by concerns over trade secrets and excessive evaluations of the recipient’s capability to safely operate a system, the WSJ reported.
One way the department could accelerate weapons sales is to assist foreign countries with drafting requests, helping them use appropriate language and avoid pitfalls that could trigger national security concerns, according to the WSJ. Another possibility is to make the annual contract request cycle more flexible so countries don’t find themselves falling behind a deadline for certain weapons systems.
Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former assistant secretary of defense, suggested instituting a wartime exception for defense production.
“You don’t have to rush” javelins to Japan, for example, or other non-urgent requests, he told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
A new “term of sale” opens the doors to more nations that want to approach the U.S. about foreign military sales. https://t.co/kTsEiLKtJe
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) October 3, 2020
However, the U.S. is running low on ammunition, causing worries among defense officials that the war in Ukraine is hurting U.S. readiness. Part of the reason is the Pentagon’s inefficient communication with defense contractors, the WSJ reported.
Stepping up production to furnish both the U.S. and allies will require an even greater infusion of cash than allocated in this year’s nearly $800 billion draft defense budget proposal, Korb told the DCNF.
“What you’re going to need is a supplemental,” he added.
While additional funding can alleviate part of the problem, ongoing supply chain issues can make the months or years-long manufacturing process take even longer, according to the WSJ.
“Heaven forbid we go to war and don’t have the equipment we need,” said Korb.
The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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