n the wake of increasingly time-consuming and unsatisfying negotiations between foreign weapons buyers and US weapons sellers, the Pentagon and the US Air Force have instituted new protocols to train American armament vendors to more efficiently service the needs of their expanding clientele.
Foreign military sales (FMS) is a significant player in new US weapons development, as buyer commitments can drive legislation to approve additional military funding from Congress, also benefitting the bottom line at US-based aerospace and defense multinational corporations.
Noting that the process of negotiating with foreign buyers has been inefficient and often goes "back and forth for months" without finalizing a sale, US Air Force Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Heidi Grant stated, "if you have the right trained person with the right language skills and skill sets, and that wants to be there, we feel like the requirements process from the very beginning is going to be much better," according to Defense News.
Observing that many US FMS employees, while possessing the appropriate language skills, had little to no interest in, or knowledge of, the more technical aspects of weapons development and deployment, former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and current Air Force Chief of Staff General Dave Goldfein signed a memo on August 17, 2016, calling for the Air Force to establish new training protocols.
The new program would ensure that US weapons sales representatives, operating directly with potential buyers overseas, can fine tune their sales pitches by being provided with the tools to understand precisely what kind of weapons the buyers want and in what circumstances they would be used.
Grant suggested that, while it could take as long as three years to complete the training of a new overseas US weapons sales team, military officials were "excited about our involvement," as it is seen as a method of increasing American weapons sales abroad.
Grant has additional trips to US European Command and Africa Command planned in the near future, to bump up the already enormous international trade in US weaponry.
In 2016 the United States was the world's largest exporter of weapons, dominating the pack with some 33 percent of the trade. India was largest weapons importer that year, gobbling up some 14 percent of all global weapons offered for sale by state-backed arms companies in the US and around the world.