One of the Quadrennial Defense Review’s (QDR) central themes is the need to build partnership capacity. This means providing friends and allies with the capabilities and training needed to take greater responsibility for their own security. If senior defense leaders want to have a substantial and immediate impact on the capacity of friends and allies then make sure the QDR addresses revising the foreign military sales (FMS) process. For example, even as U.S. forces plan their withdrawal from Iraq, that nation’s ability to acquire much needed U.S. weapons and training is being held up because the FMS bureaucrats have judged Iraq to be a bad credit risk.
Similarly, antiquated restrictions on the export of U.S. advanced military technologies have long stood in the way of providing our partners with needed capabilities and preserving U.S. defense jobs. Were it not for Congressional roadblocks, the F-22 could have been offered to U.S. allies, most notably Japan, thereby improving its self-defense capability and preserving the production line. Instead of worrying about how the services plan to organize and train for the mission of building partnership capacity, the QDR would do more good by proposing concrete changes to the FMS and export control processes.
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