By Michelle HarlanOctober 26, 2011
Typically foreign military sales are defined as a U.S. government to foreign government sale of defense articles, services and training. But for 1206 sales cases, the purchase is funded through Department of Defense appropriated funds. According to the National Defense Authorization Act, Section 1206, its purpose is to equip, supply and train foreign military who support U.S. military in joint operations.
"These countries are fighting alongside U.S. service men and women, so it is imperative that we provide them with the proper equipment to ensure they are successful in their mission," Brian Steinberg, a country program manager for the Army Security Assistance Command headquarters' EUCOM Directorate, said.
The United States acts as the buyer of materiel and transfers ownership of those items to the coalition partner. Cindy Decker, a country case manager at USASAC's New Cumberland, Pa. office, works on the 1206 Coalition Program for Georgia, Bulgaria and the Baltic states, which falls under USASAC's EUCOM Directorate. She is responsible for ensuring the receiving governments are prepared to take responsibility of the FMS items being supplied to them.
"Once the COCOM (Combatant Commands) and country decide what is needed, the items and the potential dollars are defined on a Congressional Notification," Decker said. "This document is sent through the channels from DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency), to State (Department) and to Congress. Once approved, the cases are written."
One challenge of 1206 sales is the imposed time frame to obligate appropriated funds on a contract before the end of a fiscal year. According to Steinberg, there are five years available to complete delivery, services and billing for each individual case. Decker said the goal is to provide materiel and services to the coalition partners within six to 12 months once the money is obligated, but can vary based on various factors such as the time frame in which the U.S. budget is approved or correct items are determined.
It takes time to establish the correct items available for shipment to these countries, according to Decker. Coalition partners request materiel that is being used by U.S. Soldiers. Because of the restrictions on what U.S. items can and cannot be used by foreign militaries, comparable items have to be found to provide to the coalition partners.
USASAC's motto, "Strength in Cooperation," is exemplified through the 1206 program because the U.S. provides defense articles or training to partner governments in order to aid in counter-terrorism activities and support the U.S. military. Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria and Georgia are examples of countries who will receive items such as GPS, radio equipment, body armor and helmets which will be used in Afghanistan.
"It is important to help these countries because they are playing a vital role in Stability Operations in theater," Steinberg said.
"People don't understand why we give our money to a foreign government," Decker said. "The equipment and training received by the countries helps both us and them. It helps the U.S. because it creates a partner nation and ally in our war on terrorism."
Supporting the smaller countries also helps them to develop as a nation.
"It helps the partner nation because these are usually small, emerging countries that do not have a robust budget for military equipment," Decker said. "It provides a means for them to receive military training from the best military in the world."