The Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) and the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) vest authority for the sale or grant of USG-origin defense articles, services, and technical data with the President. Executive Order No. 12163 (under State Department Delegation of Authority No. 145, February 4, as amended) granted the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security (T) the power to provide consent to these transfers. In 1992 this authority was delegated to the Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs (PM). Since this delegation, PM’s Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers (RSAT) has been charged with handling arms transfers and third party transfers, disposal, and change of end-use involving U.S. -origin equipment procured via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program and all government to government grant assistance programs. All third party transfer cases undergo an interagency review prior to PM/RSAT’s recommendation of an approval or denial to the PM Assistant Secretary. PM’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) is responsible for authorizing all transfers involving U.S.-origin military equipment acquired through direct commercial sales.
The Third Party Transfers Team is responsible for coordinating approvals for transfers of certain categories of U.S.-provided military equipment from their original users to other users, as well as representing the PM Bureau on the National Disclosure Policy Committee.
Third Party Transfers
Pursuant to Section 3 of the Arms Export Control Act, if a country to which the United States has provided an item of military equipment wants to transfer that item to another country, to dispose of the item, or to use that item for a purpose other than that originally approved, the country must first obtain permission from the U.S. Government to do so. The Third Party Transfers team coordinates approvals of such requests from countries for equipment provided under the Foreign Military Sales program or other grant military aid programs. PM/DDTC is responsible for coordinating authorization for transfers of equipment acquired through Direct Commercial Sales. All third-party transfer cases undergo an interagency review prior to being recommended for approval or denial to the Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs or the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security.
National Disclosure Policy Committee (NDPC)
PM/RSAT is the Department of State’s voting representative on the National Disclosure Policy Committee, which reviews all requests to disclose classified military information to foreign governments. PM/RSAT officers rigorously analyze requests to share classified information or technology to ensure that the request promotes U.S. foreign policy interests, is not destabilizing for the country or region in question, and has potential for fostering interoperability with the U.S military.
Coordination with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE)
From time to time, PM/RSAT is required to review arms transfer cases that involve the transfer to a U.S. person or entity of U.S.-origin military equipment from a country that had previously received it from the United States through grant or sale. While PM/RSAT is responsible for determining whether to authorize the country to transfer the equipment, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) is responsible for determining whether the U.S. person or entity is authorized to receive it. Given the dual aspects of these transfers, close coordination between PM/RSAT and BATFE is essential.
Technical and Logistical DoD MOUs with Other Countries
The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics from time to time seeks to enter into agreements with its counterparts in other countries involving reciprocal procurement and other technical and logistical matters. Before such agreements can be implemented, they must be reviewed by the Department of State to ensure that they are in keeping with U.S. foreign policy. PM/RSAT is responsible for coordinating the Department’s review of these agreements.
Contact the Third Party Transfers Team
The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Team is responsible for managing all government-to-government transfers of military equipment to other countries under the FMS and Excess Defense Articles programs and related activities.
Foreign Military Sales
Foreign Military Sales are one of two methods through which a country can purchase new military equipment from the United States; the other is Direct Commercial Sales, which are managed by PM/DDTC. FMS is a government-to-government program through which the U.S. Government sells conventional military weapons, equipment, and services to allied and friendly nations to assist them in meeting their legitimate defense requirements. Although the Department of Defense, through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), is responsible for implementing individual FMS cases, the Department of State must first review and approve them. DSCA forwards all FMS cases to PM/RSAT, which is responsible for ensuring that they are properly reviewed within the Department for consistency with U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives. In close coordination with other Department bureaus and offices, PM/RSAT officers provide recommendations to PM leadership on whether to approve the potential sale of military equipment to foreign governments through FMS.
Congressional Notifications and Briefings on Arms Sales
Pursuant to Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act, the Executive Branch is required to formally notify the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee when a potential FMS sale meets or exceeds specified dollar thresholds. PM/RSAT officers work with PM leadership and the Department of Defense to make the required notifications, to include briefing Congressional staff on the potential arms sales and how it will serve U.S. interests.
Conventional Arms Transfer Policy (CAT)
The Conventional Arms Transfer Policy is the standing Presidential policy guidance on arms transfers. It is guided by two fundamental tenets: to support transfers that meet the legitimate security requirements of our allies and partners in support of our national security and foreign policy interests; and to promote restraint, both by the United States and other suppliers, in transfers of weapon systems that may be destabilizing or dangerous to international peace and security. PM/RSAT is the lead office for implementing the Policy’s guidance.
Excess Defense Articles (EDA)
The Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program is a mechanism through which the Department of Defense disposes of excess military equipment by providing it to allied and friendly nations on a grant or sale basis. PM/RSAT serves as the Department’s point of contact on EDA issues, and coordinates the approval of proposed transfers with DoD and the Department’s regional bureaus.
Section 25 of the Arms Export Control Act specifies that no later than February 1 of each year the President shall transmit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report which lists projected U.S. sales and licensed commercial exports of military equipment and services to other countries above a set dollar threshold during the current year. PM/RSAT is responsible for compiling this report, commonly called the Javits Report, with the assistance of PM/DDTC and DSCA.
Contact the Foreign Military Sales Team
PM/RSAT’s three Regional Policy Teams divide their portfolios geographically: Europe and the Western Hemisphere; the Middle East and Africa; and South, Central, and East Asia. These teams develop and manage the bilateral and regional political-military relations with countries in their regions of responsibility. Officers are the PM Bureau’s de facto country policy leads and are counterparts to the “desks” of Department of State regional bureaus and country directors in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Officers coordinate with the National Security Council; the Office of the Secretary of Defense; the Joint Staff; the Military Services; the Combatant Commands; and Department of State regional and functional bureaus to develop and direct regional political-military policies of the United States, especially for instances in which the transfer of defense capabilities or U.S. or joint military exercises are involved. In these cases, PM is a leading voice in the interagency process. Officers use the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy and applicable regional policies to adjudicate government-to-government arms transfers, U.S. commercial defense licensing, and the conduct of military exercises to ensure decisions align with the foreign policy interests of the United States.
Officers identify and analyze the full range of political-military considerations in their regions, determine appropriate U.S. responses, and advise PM Bureau leadership and the Secretary of State to the implications for U.S. security and foreign policy objectives.
PM/RSAT’s Regional Policy Teams also play a primary role in coordinating bilateral or multilateral defense and security dialogues, including strategy reviews, that the Department of State leads or co-leads annually. These forums are chaired either by the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs or by PM Bureau Principals and typically consist of high-level U.S. interagency teams that review and coordinate on regional security issues, arms transfers, military-to-military cooperation, weapons disposal, and other security topics with counterparts from other countries. These dialogues establish the groundwork for determining the appropriate level of political-military engagement between the United States and its foreign partners. PM/RSAT officers directly support Department leadership by managing and implementing all aspects of political-military dialogues and by staffing and participating in consultations in Washington and overseas.