(Photo credit: Petras Malukas/AFP)
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on 2 September that the US has begun a widescale campaign to hasten arms sales to its allies in a bid to compete with other world powers, and to replenish the stockpiles of countries who have provided Ukraine with weapons and military equipment.
Last month, the Pentagon set up a taskforce of high-ranking officials in order to review ‘inefficiencies’ in Washington’s billion-dollar arms sales to allied nations.
The taskforce, dubbed the “Tiger Team,” will examine how the US Department of Defense (DoD) can accelerate this latest program to arm its partners and allies with US weapons in a “speedier fashion,” officials have said.
“It’s about the mechanical steps in the process … How can we do a better job of bringing inefficiencies out of the system that will apply to all of the countries that we work with?” a senior DoD official was quoted as saying.
The US military sales program has been criticized over the years by officials and lawmakers as being “risk-averse and sluggish,” the WSJ report said. This newest push by the Pentagon aims to remedy concerns that Washington’s arms sales contracts, which are only approved once a year, will send “friendly nations” elsewhere to purchase weapons.
The program also comes amid increased rivalry with Russia and China in the global arms race, as Moscow and Beijing are able to develop sophisticated weapons at a cheaper rate, posing a threat to US military dominance.
“The longstanding argument for American equipment is that it is the best—and it is … That also makes it the most expensive, it’s not cheap,” another US official said.
As part of this recent push, the government of US President Joe Biden approved nearly $20 billion worth of arms deals between mid-July and early August, with a third of those sales headed to countries in West Asia.
This includes a staggering $5.3 billion in potential arms deals with both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, approved by the White House on 2 August.
The US has also been bolstering its already overbearing presence and interference in the region, including in Yemen and Syria, while continuing its aggressive policies against Iran despite recent developments regarding an upcoming revival of the nuclear deal.
On 2 September, the Iranian Navy documented seizing two US maritime drones in the Red Sea. These drones are part of a larger scheme by Washington to build an anti-Iran “drone fleet” in Gulf waters in collaboration with Saudi Arabia and Israel.