Wary Allies Eye US Arms Policies

Wary Allies Eye US Arms Policies

Utter the term ITAR here at the Paris Show and both Europeans and Americans often cringe. The Europeans know it as the set of regulations that make it incredibly challenging for them to buy American weapon systems, no matter how close they are to the administration in charge. The Americans know it as a never-ending headache that makes foreign sales cumbersome and slow — at best — and can easily lead to a silent no from the State Department, which oversees the regulations.

The Obama administration talks often and often convincingly about partnerships with allies and their tremendous importance to US national security interests. As Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of Defense for policy, put it in her recent QDR remarks, “allies and partners are absolutely essential.”

And there are important policy decisions ahead. Japan still wants to buy the F-22, export version or not. I hear a key radar sale to an ally is pending. And there will be the day to day grind of working with partner countries to build the Joint Strike Fighter.

And ITAR decisions — whether to allow sales of a weapon to a foreign government — will be crucial to each one of those. Arms export license decisions — based on the ITAR — are regarded as one of the essential coins of the allied realm. When the US says no to a sale or takes months to decide, allies are often puzzled, frustrated or just plain mystified because the process lacks transparency although there have been efforts in the last few years to improve this a bit.

Given the frustrations heard from the Europeans here in Paris, I spoke with several very experienced Americans who work with Europeans, industry and the US government about just what Europe should do over the next six months to make sure they get their messages through to the Obama administration.

Joel Johnson, an analyst at the Teal Group in Washington who used to be industry’s point man on arms export policy at the Aerospace Industries Association, counseled NATO allies to use meetings of their top leaders — military and civilian, up to and including the British prime minister, French president etc. — to raise the issue with senior American officials at the highest levels possible. Don’t worry about embarrassing anyone, he said. Don’t soft peddle your case. Be polite, direct and raise the issue at each venue to keep the squeaky wheel squeaking. Otherwise, U.S. officials will assume things are fine and go on as they are.

Another senior American industry official noted that the Obama administration still has many senior people to get in place at the State Department — the lead agency on arms export issues — and at the Pentagon. A few crucial positions are close to being filled. The outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, looks to be on her way to Senate approval as undersecretary of State for arms control and international security. And a senior advisor of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Andy Shapiro, is also close to clearing the Senate as assistant secretary for political-military affairs, usually the post who handles the day to day issues of arms export policy and compliance. The industry official said Shapiro’s choice appeared to offer some hope, if not of policy changes, of access to Clinton when policy disputes arise or an important arms export license is languishing for one reason or another.

So, will the Obama administration deliver on its talk of close relations with “allies and partners?” Much will depend on the allies helping them to see the light.

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false issue. your example of the F-22 is telling. it was banned from export yet the Japanese are still lobbying for it. the F-35 is a model of success while the Eurohawk is an example of our allies short circuiting rapid procurement of a US product (in that they’re insisting on basically a domestic electronics package). more telling is the fact that these governments are looking for tech transfers and the establishment of domestic production capability more than the actual integration of these systems into their armed forces and it makes the issue more difficult than the article shows.

Why would we trust ANYONE, most of all France, with our most sensitive technologies? On top of that, why does anyone (with the exception of Israel and the UK) feel entitled to purchase technology which they will NEVER use ? Maybe if the U.S. got some more reward out of the risk of selling advanced weaponry to our allies, there would be more incentive to do so. Unfortunately, the token efforts from most of our allies in a conflict like Afghanistan shows why its not worth the risk of proliferation by selling weapons to them. This of course is only my opinion, but I wonder if this crosses the mind of the State Dept when deciding whether to sell some weapon to a country like France or Spain.

Go ahead and sell the F22 overseas. Just don’t be surprised when the Chinese start flying their own clone shortly after.


I don’t agree at all. The effort our allies are putting into ISAF are commensurate with their size and defense budgets and stake in the fight. Don’t forget, the Europeans have had a lot more terrorism on their soil than we have and they are essential in the fight to keep fanatic groups off balance.

France is fighting shoulder to shoulder with us in Afhganistan. They are working with us in the Balkans and in Africa against pirates. France is a US ally. We train with them in joint exercises and even share data with them during missions. If you want to be mad at a country, or an ally, try Saudi Arabia. We have literally bled to protect them. When they needed a new combat fighter did they buy F-15Es?

No they bought 72 Typhoons.

Finally, the incentive to sell advanced avionics and otherwise vectoring or weapons systems is that there is a robust market for it; also we are not the only ones who can develop high technology. If we don’t sell our radars, someone else will sell them.

Forgot to ask you to visit my blog



Saudi Arabia is a tricky alliance. They have to be very careful about balancing their alliance with the United States and not stepping on too many toes in the Arab world. It’s not as cut and dry for them as it is for the United States.

As for our allies putting in an equal effort relative to their size and stake, I couldn’t disagree more. The Europeans have far more at stake than the U.S. as militant Islam is rapidly expanding throughout their cities. Perhaps that is why they are careful about the amount of effort they put into Afghanistan — as usual, their best line of defense is appeasement. France has just over 3k troops in Afghanistan, that is less than 1% of their man power — and it’s not like they have huge military commitments elsewhere. The French and Germans both have the ability to contribute MUCH more to the fight, but their socialist governments and populations simply do not have the stomach for any kind of conflict, no matter how justified it is. No doubt the aid that our allies have given us thus far has been extremely valuable, but with a couple exceptions most of it has been nothing more than a token effort.

Here is an article that builds on my point a little more:


“German soldiers, like troops from many other countries serving in Afghanistan, are limited by restrictions over where they can be sent and in what level of combat they can be involved.

Such caveats have created resentment from Britain, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States whose troops bear the brunt of the fighting in the south because they have had few restrictions placed on their movements or activities by their respective legislatures.

The German troops, based mainly in the northern province of Kunduz, which has been comparatively quiet, recently took over command of the quick-reaction force that is supposed to provide military support in cases of emergency.”


Either there’s someone else who decided to post with the same name. Or someones extremely upset with something I said in the other F-22 discussion. (Hence why they used Caps lock)

The French can only be partially trusted. Don’t forget where Argentina got Exercet Missiles, which lets not forget they used during the Falkland Islands and sank 2 ships i beleive it was. Selling the F-22 would be the biggest mistake we could probably make. Watered down or not. Stealth is were the United States excells in, so why would we want to give away out greatest weapon we hold? Especially to a foreign Asian nation, in which we have been to war with.


I will say that the French are flying CAPs with two squadrons of Mirage 2000s over Afghanistan out of the Uzbekistan air base.

I think too, that the French have millions of Muslims living in their country, and they also have to be careful about the appearance that they are bombing Muslims.

France has 61 million people. The US has 305 million. They do indeed also have troop responsibilities all over Africa, in Indonesia, and Malaysia. So, that commitment is a failry large commitment for them.

Thanks for the discussion nonetheless


Japan dont need the f-22 thay have a storng militery as is os the japs dont NEED IT

Somehow, we need to remove/simplify State Department and Congressional bureaucracy from the formula for deciding who buys our military/industrial output and methods of International Manufacturing and Exchange of this hardware. The present, overly tedious formula is damaging both our DOD Contracted Manufacturers, and fracturing vital Western World defense alliances.

We haven’t any North Korean rockets fly over our country, “YET”. They have, Kim El kooky would love to fight someone and has a history with Japan. Who is Nk ally? China, of course, and it seems they have some history with Japan. Oh, and who was jumped in bailout the NKs when they were getting their butts kicked? don’t forget the russki pilots in MIG-15s, which by ther way got from Russia.


Are they actually dropping bombs in Afghanistan or just patrolling uncontested airspace? If it’s the latter, that is pretty useless — we could hire some crop duster pilots with pistols to do the same thing. We aren’t exactly being challenged by anyone in the air over there.

As for French commitments elsewhere, I think that is sort of irrelevant. The fact is, if the French WANTED they have the resources to make more than a token effort towards the fight in Afghanistan. But we all know that the French are a bunch of world-appeasing pacifists for the most part, and they don’t have the social or political will to get involved in “someone elses business” (even though it’s everyone’s business).

F-22s, radar.…bah.…small potatoes. Ya gotta think big. Get a bunch of our close, personal, friends and have an auction for some of the launch codes. They’ll go to the highest bidder. Then we lease out the missiles, with personnel, to the big winner for five years with an option to buy, of course. I can see it now, if they play their cards right, the Aussies could become the owner of the largest nuke armory in the world. “No more of those nasty Aussie jokes from you New Zealanders or will show you what for, mate!” Win-win, eh? Uncle Sam would get a great price and let’s face it people, we sure could use the cash. After all, like folks are pointing out, no prob, they’re our allies..right..right.….right?

Google “F-15SE” thats the answer!!!

Why not sell the F-22 to Japan? We are going to need them someday soon, as well as Australia. If not the Raptor, why not the F-15SE? You really think those Chi-com, even Russian pilots are on par with NATO or our other allies? The Suhkoi’s may be great aircraft, but who’s the guy flying it? I bet the qaulity of NATO, Japanese, SK, and Australia are a cut above. We are gonna need help one day soon. It may be sooner than we think.

I dont think the aussies can fly.…. but thats just from things ive heard being thrown around…


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