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News | Sept. 30, 2020

New Policy Makes U.S. More Competitive Partner

By C. Todd Lopez DOD News

A new "term of sale" opens the doors to more nations that want to approach the United States about foreign military sales, and that makes the U.S. more competitive in seeking partnerships, the director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.

Just last year, DSCA created the "risk assessed payment schedule," or RAPS, term of sale, which offers more nations better opportunities to acquire U.S. military hardware through foreign military sales, Heidi Grant said today in an online discussion during the ComDef 2020 conference, a virtual conference providing insights and perspectives on issues facing the international defense communities.

"[This is for] countries that are on the cusp of what people are familiar with, dependable undertaking," Grant said. "This is a new financial opportunity, so we can be more competitive ... and we've approved already three countries for this RAPS opportunity. One of them has actually acted on it. And we won a competition out there, I would say, because of this financial opportunity."

Some nations interested in FMS may qualify as "dependable undertaking," which means those countries have been evaluated as most likely to be able to meet financial obligations made as part of their FMS request.

Nations not able to meet qualifications for dependable undertaking, or that are only on the cusp of meeting those requirements, have, in the past, been able to engage in FMS using "cash with acceptance," which requires they pay in full for their FMS purchase at the time the sale is approved.

For nations that are approved for the risk assessed payment schedule, it isn't necessary to pay in full before delivery of FMS materiel. Instead, those nations would agree to alternative payment schedules, including paying a deposit that amounts to 100% of the cost of terminating their agreement.

Grant took the helm at DSCA in August and brings nearly 30 years of federal experience to the job, with about 20 years in security cooperation. She said that while the agency is still calculating the FMS "success stories" for fiscal year 2020, in FY 2019, DSCA had oversight of 14,700 FMS cases, executed $55.4 billion in arms sales, and worked with over 160 countries. But she pointed out that weapons sales are not the only thing DSCA does.

"Foreign military sales often seems to be the focus when people talk about DSCA — that's what we're most well-known for," she said. "But we provide much more than just defense equipment to our allies and partners. Security cooperation includes international military education and training, advising on defense doctrine, rule of law, human rights, civilian harm mitigation, and other institutional capacity-building programs."

As the new director of DSCA, Grant said her focus will be on expanding opportunities for which the defense industry could compete; identifying barriers to progress and developing plans to remove those barriers; and fostering innovation across the security cooperation enterprise.