Army Official: Foreign Military Sales for Vehicles, Tanks Holding Steady

By Yasmin Tadjdeh
A mine-resistant all terrain vehicle

Photo: Oshkosh Defense

WARREN, Mich.  — Conflicts and instability around the world will continue to drive foreign military sales of U.S.-made combat vehicles and expand their market globally, an Army official said April 26. 

“If I look across at the world situation right now — the tensions that are going on ... in the Middle East, the [South] China Sea, the promise of all the nations in NATO to build up their defense industrial bases — I believe that FMS is on secure footing,” said Ann Cataldo, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for defense exports and cooperation.

In particular, vehicle and tank sales are doing well and are "opening doors and gaining influence for us,” she said during remarks at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Michigan Chapter’s Michigan Defense Exposition.

The largest market is found within the U.S. Central Command's area of operations, she said. “We see this continuing into the foreseeable future,” she noted.

Sales in the region — which encompasses some of the most unstable nations in the world — have also reinforced the United States’ partnerships with strategic allies in North Africa, Cataldo added.

South America is another burgeoning region, she said. 

“South America is ready to reopen its doors and re-engage with the United States,” she said. There is a great deal of interest in U.S. armored vehicle programs. “We’re going to be watching very carefully where that’s going.”

The United States is also looking toward Eastern Europe for sales, Cataldo said. Many small countries there are eager to shed their Soviet-era equipment and modernize their fleets. Additionally, many are attempting to boost their military spending to meet NATO’s goal to have every member nation devote 2 percent of their GDP toward defense by 2020, she added.

“They are looking at our vehicles as a way forward to meet those kinds of ends,” she said.

Foreign military sales are used by the United States to establish partnerships with nations around the globe while at the same time helping to build their capability, she said.

“More often than not, the way that we have access to a partner that we’re interested in is through the technology,” Cataldo said. Nations see new systems “out on an exercise, they see it when they come out on a visit, … they see it at a trade show. It’s that interest in the technology that drives them to get in touch with us, that gives us access to their defense planning process, their budget cycle, their equipment modernization goals.”

Additionally, FMS brings down the cost of weapon systems for the United States, making it a win-win situation for all parties, she said.

For the Army, FMS is a “very big business,” Cataldo said. “We in fact execute half of the foreign military sales across the Department of Defense."

FMS is run at no cost to the United States, because a portion of the sale goes toward the process needed to facilitate it, she said. The Pentagon garners billions of dollars every year through these sales, she added.

The biggest challenge Cataldo faces is communication issues, she said. When it comes to government, the international partner and industry, “we all think that we’re very clear in what we’ve just said and unfortunately what we say and what our partners hear … is not always the same thing,” she said.

“I believe about half of the issues that come up are because people did not understand what each other are saying,” she said. “One of the points I stress to all of our people is when you are doing something, put it in writing, explain it in more than one fashion, especially if you are working with a new partner.”


Topics: International, Foreign Military Sales, Land Forces

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