The U.S. Pentagon in August created a task force of senior officials to accelerate the supply of billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. weaponry to foreign allies, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sept. 2.
The task force, called the “Tiger Team,” will work on figuring out how to expedite sales of U.S. arms to foreign allies so as to better compete with China, while also refilling the arsenals of allied nations that have given military gear to Ukraine.
The team will explore ways to streamline parts of the program, according to a senior defense official, to get coveted U.S. drones, guns, helicopters, tanks, and other weaponry into partners’ and allies’ hands faster.
According to the WSJ, increased tensions with China, as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have brought urgency to the review, which officials said began about a month ago.
As an example of the new team’s recommendations, those in the U.S. tasked with working with countries on initial requests for new drones will also be trained to help those countries in drafting more effective request letters, removing roadblocks that pop up because the initial request was too broad or triggered other security concerns, a defense official stated.
The Pentagon executes much of the foreign arms sales program, but the program itself is overseen by the U.S. State Department. The program allows for up to $45 billion in annual weapons sales, and is used as a foreign-policy tool to help spread U.S. influence. It is up to the U.S. Congress, however, to ultimately approve all foreign military sales.
Another reason to tighten up the procedural process is that certain systems are only approved by the Pentagon on a year-to-year basis, so orders that miss that deadline are held until the next cycle, said officials close to the new group.
The WSJ noted that the slow pace has left some countries unsure if the United States wants them as partners – a risk that can means countries with whom Washington wants to stay close sometimes go elsewhere to shop for arms. Officials in Washington say they must deepen relationships with allies due to a global competition with China, and the quality of relationships is often measured by who can sell the best, most sophisticated military gear the quickest – and the cheapest.
Meanwhile, the United States has announced another big boost to its military support to Ukraine, with the Reuters news agency reporting on Sept. 2 that U.S. President Joe Biden will request $11.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress to provide lethal aid and budget support to the country.