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Foreign military sales growth area for Army

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Feb. 21, 2013) -- Selling military hardware to allied nations is a way to keep weapon production lines hot, ensure the viability of America's industrial base, and strengthen ties with the militaries that buy the equipment. Foreign military sales is a growth area for the future, and a good idea, said the commander of Army Materiel Command.

"There's a growth in demand for training," said Gen. Dennis L. Via, commander, U.S. Army Materiel Command, during a presentation at the 2013 Association of the United States Army Institute of Land Warfare Symposium and Exposition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "We think this is an opportunity we can leverage as we continue to build partner capacity and build relationships with allies and partner nations."

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Through its Foreign Military Sales office, the Army facilitates the sale of military weapons and hardware to partner nations. When that happens, training and support packages are also sold to those customers, which ensure an ongoing relationship between the U.S. Army and the allied nation's military.

In fiscal year 2012, the Army was able to generate $19.6 billion in foreign military sales, or FMS, to 144 different nations. The projected sales in fiscal year 2013 are about $12.2 billion. Via said partner nations and allies want American military goods, and AMC can provide those goods through FMS.

"What I'm finding in my travels, as I meet with embassies and foreign militaries, is they have trust in the equipment the United States provides to them," Via said. "Certainly, I'd leverage every opportunity to push for a sustainment package as well. Because, at some point in time it is going to have to be sustained; it is going to have to be maintained."

Providing those sustainment packages along with FMS helps the Army preserve its own organic industrial base, its arsenals and depots, as well as provides opportunities for training and creates interoperability between U.S. and foreign militaries.

"That's been a win-win for both the U.S. Army and our allies as well; and also a win-win for industry," Via said. "We see that as continuing in the out years. This is a growth industry."

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