By Jen Judson and Joe Gould
WASHINGTON — A powerful lawmaker with State Department oversight is ripping the foreign military sales processes over lengthy delays in a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry demanding they create a plan to fix issues.
“Unfortunately, our current [Foreign Military Financing] and FMS processes are not efficient,” Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, writes in a March 4 letter. “I frequently hear from our friends and allies that excessive delays put significant strains on their relationships with the U.S. The damage extends to our industrial base as it is causing many of our partners to seek support elsewhere, including from Russia and China. This has gone on far too long without significant reform. This is unacceptable.”
As chair of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee and vice chair of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, Granger notes she recently asked both Carter and Kerry about problems with “cumbersome, bureaucratic and inefficient” FMF and FMS processes during committee hearings and their responses “echoed” her concerns, but failed to articulate any plan to address issues.
Granger asks Carter and Kerry for “specific steps” being taken to reform the process.
Additionally, Granger asks for a plan to expedite delivery of “critical assets” to partners, especially ones contributing to the fight against the Islamic State group. “It is also important for you to identify any key roadblocks you are running into in achieving these goals,” she writes.
The letter comes as the Pentagon agency charged with shepherding FMS recorded a record high of $46.6 billion in FMS for fiscal 2015, up from $34.2 billion in sales in 2014, and $27.8 in 2013.
Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) averages 140 new requests each month, contributing to a backlog 13,000 active cases, its director, Vice Adm. Joseph Rixey said late last year. In response, the DSCA was implementing plans to streamline its processes, forecast probable requests and prioritize the needs of the regional combatant commanders.
Other lawmakers are concerned about delays in the FMS process. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., has criticized delays in the sales of fighter jets to the region and said visiting foreign defense ministers frequently vent frustration to him over stalled arms deals.
"These countries deserve a decision," McCain said last month. "If it’s no, it’s no. If it’s yes, it’s yes."