Washington to Allow NATO Members to Share US Weapons

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The US State Department and Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that NATO Allies are seeking mutual cost sharing both within and outside of NATO to maximize their defense budgets.

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US State Department and Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced a plan to allow for the first time NATO members and organizations to share with each other US-acquired military equipment to maximize defense budgets, according to DSCA statement.

“NATO Allies are seeking mutual cost sharing both within and outside of NATO to maximize their defense budgets,” DSCA said in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement said US authorities would consider purchases by a lead nation or international organization on behalf of others on a case by case basis during a two-year test period, with the possibility of making the new program permanent.

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“Lessons learned during the two-year test period will inform the potential development of more permanent policies by the Departments of State and Defense to govern such transactions,” the statement read.

The US State Department will have to approve arms transfers outside the designated group, according to the statement.

The announcement came as NATO has increased its activities in Eastern Europe amid alleged Russian involvement in the Ukraine crisis.

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As part of its “Readiness Action Plan,” NATO has increased the number of fighter jets patrolling the skies of the Baltics, sent more ships to European waters, and deployed ground troops to the Alliance’s eastern reaches for training and exercises, according to a statement on NATO’s website.

On Thursday, NATO defense ministers are scheduled to discuss the action plan, including the size of a new rapid deployment force “of several thousand ground troops supported by air, maritime and special forces able to deploy within a few days,” the NATO statement said.

NATO plans to have the force ready by 2016, according to the statement.

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