U.S. To Expedite Weapon Sales to Gulf States

Defense Daily Network29.05.2015 KSA
U.S. To Expedite Weapon Sales to Gulf States

U.S. To Expedite Weapon Sales to Gulf States

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The United States will fast-track arms sales to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states through a dedicated Foreign Military Sales (FMS) office in an effort to bolster those nations’ abilities to counter terrorism and deescalate conflicts in the region, the White House announced earlier this month.

U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Forces will also have an increased presence in the region as they ramp up efforts to train GCC troops in counter-terrorism tactics, according to the multinational agreement.

Leaders of the GCC nations - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - met at Camp David with President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and other national security officials for two days to discuss their alliance on 13-14 May.

The leaders discussed “a new U.S.-GCC strategic partnership to enhance their work to improve security cooperation, especially on fast-tracking arms transfers, as well as on counter-terrorism, maritime security, cybersecurity and ballistic missile defense,” according to the White House.

President Obama plans to dispatch a “senior team” to the region in coming weeks to hash out a plan for making U.S. arms more readily available.

“The United States and the GCC will work together to set up a dedicated Foreign Military Sales procurement office to process GCC-wide sales, streamlining third-party transfers, and exploring ways the United States could accelerate the acquisition and fielding of key capabilities,” according to a statement from the White House.

No specific foreign military sales have been announced. The process usually requires a request from an allied nation for a specific weapon covered by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and approval by the State Department. Even then the sale is only potential and the requesting nation must negotiate a deal with the manufacturer of the weapons it wishes to buy.

Obama did commit to aiding GCC nations in establishing a region-wide ballistic missile defense, including an early warning system. Specifically, the U.S. officials will facilitate a study of the GCC’s current missile defense capabilities and offer advice and technical assistance on how to improve it.

A new training exercise was agreed upon that will emphasize “interoperability against asymmetric threats” to include cyber-attacks. USSOCOM forces will step up their presence in the region as a means to “increase the frequency” of USSOCOM “counter-terrorism cooperation and training.”

GCC nations are surrounded by roiling conflict, including the four-year-old Syrian civil war, violent extremism rearing its head in Yemen - which led the Saudis to launch airstrikes in that country - and Islamic State (ISIS) militants cutting a bloody swathe through Iraq and Syria.

Source: Defense Daily Network; Photo: Royal Saudi Air Force F-15 Eagle


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