Strong Ties Of Trust Bind Allies Buying U.S. Weapons

By Kari Hawkins, AMCOMOctober 14, 2015

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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Delivering U.S. aviation and missile systems to allied countries goes well beyond packing and shipping.

System hardware is one piece of a package -- albeit the main piece -- that includes life cycle management activities encompassing maintenance, sustainment, training, modifications and logistics.

For aviation and missile systems, that package begins and ends with the Aviation and Missile Command's Security Assistance Management Directorate at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. AMCOM SAMD furnishes foreign military sales equipment within cost, schedule and performance, and serves as the conduit for AMCOM in planning, developing and managing Security Assistance programs that provide world-class support to international customers and allies throughout the life cycle of supported missiles.

"We are constantly monitoring the progress of all our foreign military sales cases," said Aimee Pitt, an international logistics management specialist with AMCOM SAMD.

"We begin our monitoring as soon as a request for equipment comes in and continues as a customer receives the equipment, and then operates it and maintains it. We are first to see a case and the last to see it."

Those cases -- currently just over 1,000 in all -- involve vast networks of coordination between AMCOM and other Army sustainment commands -- including the Tank and Automotive Command, Communications Electronics Command and Joint Munitions Command -- as well as the Program Executive Office for Aviation and the Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, and private industry. AMCOM SAMD is part of a foreign military sales structure in which it coordinates with the Army Security Assistance Command and Army Contracting Command in support of the Army Materiel Command. It also coordinates with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

"We use a total package approach. Training, maintenance and sustainment, and also logistics are sold with the actual equipment. To be successful, we must have the support of the entire network of organizations that are part of manufacturing a weapon system," said Jim Jones, who oversees SAMD's Business Management Office.

When an allied country purchases a U.S. helicopter or missile system, they are also buying into a network of technical support that ensures the system operates at peak performance.

"We are responsible for any support activities that the customers ask from us. We work with engineers, manufacturers, technicians and customs officials to ensure that all issues are addressed so that systems move quickly through the foreign military sales management process," Pitt said.

"There are so many unique community requirements per system, and each of those requirements has to be managed to complete the foreign military sale. There are safety issues, customs issues, environmental issues, all types of things that have to be worked out when you provide a U.S. weapon system to a foreign country."

Often, an FMS case will involve a total package of systems, all of which need to be coordinated so they arrive at the customer's address at the same time.

"Each system has its own manufacturer and its own acquisition system that you have to work with," Pitt said. "There are many people and organizations involved in each FMS case. It can be quite a challenge to get what the country wants, when they want it and at the right price. It truly takes a team effort between government and industry.

"We are in the customer service business. We want to do everything we possibly can to please the customer while also making sure we are in the bounds of U.S. policy."

In fiscal year 2014, AMCOM SAMD managed $79.9 billion in foreign military sales, representing 68 percent of all Army FMS sales and support to 85 countries. Of that $79.9 billion in sales, $44.8 billion involved cases managed over several years while $14.3 billion were new FMS cases. Projected new FMS cases for fiscal year 2015 are $8.6 billion.

The FMS workload at the end of fiscal year 2014 consisted of 970 active Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOAs) covering 24 missile systems and 24 aircraft models for a number of countries and international organizations. These numbers encompass systems on active LOAs, not the number of systems available for sale.

"Foreign military sales are important to our nation's overall security objectives. U.S equipment in the arsenal of our allies allows them to defend their national interests. If they can defend their interests, then we don't have to send in U.S. troops and equipment to defend our allies," said Jeff Young, director of AMCOM SAMD.

"But, there are reasons for foreign military sales that go beyond allied security. FMS cases allow us to increase the standardization of equipment between the U.S. and its allies and coalition forces so that there is potential to integrate all these systems when operating together on the battlefield. Economically, FMS cases also ensure continued production capabilities with our U.S. defense contractors, strengthen our industrial bases and reduce the overall unit cost to the Army for its major end items and spares."

Fiscal year 2014 FMS cases involving the Patriot and Hellfire missile systems are examples of money savings for the Army. Fifty-six percent of the total sales for Patriot PAC-3 missiles are FMS cases, for a savings of more than $3 billion to the Army. Sixty-five percent of all Hellfire procurements are the result of FMS cases, saving the Army $14.4 million.

In addition, FMS sales for the Apache helicopter are continuing to keep manufacturing lines in full operation. Fifteen countries are supported with Apaches, with 369 FMS cases fielded, 84 Apache helicopters on FMS contract and 224 Apaches in operation in active campaigns thanks to FMS.

"The reason why our allies want our systems is two-fold. One, it's because they are the most technically advanced systems in the world," Young said. "And, two, it's because they are tried and tested on the battlefield during 10 years of war. When we ask our allies what their requirements are, they ask us 'What is the U.S. Army doing? What are U.S. Soldiers doing in the field and how are they employing the system? That's what they trust."

Because of FMS cases, U.S. weapon systems are being used throughout the world to protect against terrorism and other threats to a nation's stability. In Kuwait, there is the Patriot, PAC-3s and GEM-Ts. In Qatar, there is the Apache helicopter, Patriot, THAAD and Javelin. In Iraq, there is the IADS, Apache, Raven UAV and Rapid Avenger. In United Arab Emirates, there is Patriot, THAAD, Apache, CH-47 and tactical missiles. And, the list goes on.

In the past year, SAMD has worked with the United Arab Emirates in sustaining AH-64D Apaches; supported the Swedish Armed Forces through the sustainment of UH-60M aircraft, worked with Cargo PM to deliver CH-47F aircraft to Afghanistan, provided Sense and Warn capability consisting of the FAAD Control and Intelligence (C2I) System and Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) equipment used in Afghanistan. It has also assisted foreign governments with systems to combat local problems, such as drug trafficking and crime.

SAMD has also been involved in returning contractor logistics support services to Iraq at the request of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the Iraqi Army Aviation Command. The contractors from Bell Helicopter returned to the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center to provide aviation support.

Also of great importance is SAMD's role in the Global Peace Operations Initiative, a government-funded Security Assistance Program that assists partner countries in peacekeeping proficiencies. SAMD provided for contractor services and technical assistance for modifications to Ethiopian Mi-17 aircraft in support of United Nations/African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei.

SAMD's growth in the past year is indicative of a long-standing trend within the organization.

"Five years ago, we were a smaller organization and we did not have such a heavy burden," Young said. "We've learned to be more efficient and more effective. We've had very nominal growth in our employee numbers but our business has grown exponentially."

Five years ago, SAMD managed about 700 FMS cases. Today, just over 1,000. In 2010, there were $2 billion in foreign military sales. In fiscal 2014, there was $14.3 billion in new FMS cases.

"And these cases are more difficult because they are extremely large, and are integrated air and missile defense cases, or aviation cases. This is the way of the future," Young said.

"Take the recent Saudi case that we are still working. It is a composite case of general aviation platforms and facilities at a value of $20 billion. Or the even more recent Qatar case that is an air and missile defense case valued at over $7 billion. These large super cases that call for integrated defense designs take a multitude of disciplines to accomplish."

Young said the demand for non-standard aviation and missile systems -- either the older systems that are still available but no longer manufactured or the newer systems that aren't part of the U.S. Army inventory or fully tested -- continue to also challenge SAMD employees.

"These systems are not developed or maintained in our current industrial base. They don't have the power of the materiel enterprise to support them. They aren't flying in U.S. Army units, so we don't have them fully tested. Yet, our allies ask us to deliver them with the backing of our safety and testing," Young said.

"We do certify, test and qualify them, but these systems don't have the full power of the industrial enterprise behind them. Our allies want these systems backed by the U.S. because they want the integrity that comes with the U.S. Army. They want our thoroughness and our project management and our contracting oversight. They want the value of our expertise. And, because of our team, we are able to provide them with what they want for their national defense."

To monitor the growing number of FMS cases, SAMD has just over 300 civilian employees and 170 contractor employees.

"Most of our employees are embedded in the program management offices with major defense programs," Jones said. "We have employees in six countries -- those with the most significant number of cases -- including Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Taiwan.

"Our divisions are broken down by system. We have six divisions that support multiple countries based on the weapon system. Each division is broken down by regions, and then employees are assigned to support individual countries or cities."

Internally, SAMD continues to lead the efforts of an Integrated Process Team charged with the implementation of an Automated Contracts Requirement Package System with the goal of enhancing the visibility of the Contract Requirements Package process for our non-standard acquisitions and increase efficiencies. In the past year, SAMD has added two liaison positions to its organizational structure to assist with the growing need for FMS case support. The PEO Aviation liaison position and the PEO Missiles and Space liaison position were needed to facilitate processes with the Program Executive Office community.

Pitt, a 14-year SAMD employee, is a member of SAMD's performance measurement team, which has developed internal management assessments of the efficiencies and effectiveness of SAMD by linking direct labor hours expended to designated output indicators. All SAMD activities are funded through a performance-based budget, meaning that the organization's funding source is its FMS cases rather than federal government dollars.

"Our automated tools have gotten so much better. Because of them, we now have a common operating picture of the security management enterprise that shows us all the supporting work for all cases at all times," Young said.

External expansion within SAMD also includes extending Security Assistance to the Missile Defense Agency and the Aviation Systems Program Manager. It is anticipated that the Security Assistance presence within these organizations will grow concurrently with increased Security Assistance responsibilities.

SAMD employees have a background of experiences, with an emphasis on logistics and program management.

"Our employees must have experience dealing with multiple cultures and an understanding of the importance of the capabilities they are providing to our allies," Jones said.

"The demand for FMS support is growing, particularly in the area of unmanned aerial systems due to their surveillance capabilities, their relatively low cost and low risk."

When a country decides on the U.S. aviation or missile system equipment it wants in its arsenal, it will send a letter of request to the U.S. The request must be approved by the Department of State and then Congress. If approved, the case is then sent to SAMD, which puts together an entire case that outlines pricing and support.

"Once we get the Congressional approval for sale, the actual development of a case takes between 60 and 120 days," Jones said.

"We look at the configuration they are asking for and we look for alternatives that we can offer them. We determine pretty early on that we understand what they are asking for and the capabilities they want. They could be asking for total capabilities or a few items from AMCOM, such as a Hawk and Chapperal missile, Mi-17s, Cobras and OH-58Ds, fixed wing aircraft, or any combination of those and much more."

The challenge in working FMS cases, Jones said, always comes down to meeting a country's expectations for time, cost and schedule.

"Expectations are hard to manage. But if you can get those taken care of, then working an FMS case can be a good kind of challenge. It's exciting to be presented the opportunity to support a country with a weapon system and the capability to deploy it. That's huge," Jones said.

"We get to see thousands of pieces come together so that a country can have the military capability that allows them to provide for their own national security."