Industry Issues

Security Cooperation Reform

Why Security Cooperation?

U.S. security cooperation and defense trade are critical components of U.S. national security strategy. U.S. defense exports provide the foundation for advancing U.S. security cooperation objectives, support the projection of U.S. power and encourage sharing of global security responsibilities by supplying full-spectrum capabilities to our allies and partners. U.S. national security policy emphasizes building partner capacity to meet global security challenges and sustain a peaceful and cooperative international order. Indeed, the security cooperation effects of a single sale of a U.S. defense capability can reenergize a strategic relationship with an ally, build the foundation for an emerging regional partnership or provide a critical deterrent to military conflict.

U.S. security cooperation and defense trade play a key role in U.S. economic security. Every dollar spent by other countries on U.S. defense systems helps fund innovation and lowers unit costs for the U.S. military. In addition, our foreign allies and partners become more capable of advancing our common security objectives in conjunction with U.S. forces or on their own. In fact, domestic budgetary pressures will continue to compel increased international cooperation to achieve national security objectives and financially sustain and bolster innovation in the U.S. defense industrial base.

U.S. security cooperation and building partner capacity capabilities are under stress. Industry appreciates and supports the checks and balances in the U.S. security cooperation system that ensure transfers of defense articles and technologies do not adversely impact our warfighters’ technological edge and are consistent with U.S. foreign policy objectives. At the same time, the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system managed $47 billion in sales in 2015, has been hitting historical highs in dollar value in recent years and has to address 140 new security cooperation requests a month. It is clear the increase in tempo and scale of security cooperation activity in the current global security environment is straining interagency coordination, resources and training in an otherwise sound system.

While the U.S. has historically fared well in overseas sales campaigns, foreign competitors are aggressively trying to overtake American industry. France recently announced it had doubled its annual defense exports from 2014 to a record figure of $17.5 billion in 2015. In addition, countries like Russia and China are aggressively expanding their defense export activity to help bolster their influence around the world. For instance, on January 13, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a policy document on their efforts to develop deeper defense and anti-terrorism ties with the Arab world, including joint exercises, intelligence sharing and training.


U.S. Government Resources