By Ms. Kim C Gillespie (USASAC)May 30, 2012
The U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, or USASAC, is known as "The Army's Face to the World" because its engagements with 145 countries throughout the world are many times the first or most consistent relationships they will have with the Army.
USASAC's mission is to develop and manage security assistance programs globally -- primarily foreign military sales. The command has three objectives: Build partner capacity; support the engagement strategies of combatant commanders around the globe; and strengthen U.S. global partnerships.
"The chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Ray Odierno, has a great saying in one of his strategic documents -- 'cultivate friends before you need them.' And that's what we're trying to do," USASAC commander Maj. Gen. Del Turner said.
USASAC does this with the support of the Army's Security Assistance Enterprise, which it co-leads. "We only have about 430 command employees, but the enterprise is about 9,000-10,000 people," he explained. Organizations on Redstone Arsenal account for more than 500 enterprise employees. Those organizations include Army Materiel Command (USASAC's major command headquarters); Army Contracting Command, Aviation and Missile Command's Security Assistance Management Directorate, Program Executive Office for Aviation, and Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space.
The importance of Redstone Arsenal and the local community becomes clear when the foreign military sales process is explained. When a country makes an agreement to purchase materiel or services from the Army, the materiel comes from stock or through the acquisition process, just as it is done for the Army. Currently, about 80 percent of FMS comes through acquisition. Last year, foreign military sales totaled $14.6 billion, and acquisitions accounted for $9.2 billion, or 10.7 percent of total Army acquisitions. "We are currently at $16 billion, and we're only halfway through FY '12," Turner noted.
Whether the items come through stock or acquisition, USASAC goes to the appropriate AMC life cycle management command (e.g., AMCOM) or PEO. If materiel is procured through acquisition, it goes through the same contracting process used by the Army. When industry receives a contract for items that it may already be producing for the Army, it may result in reduced costs for the Army, or keep U.S. production lines going for items the Army no longer uses. The large number of defense companies located in the Huntsville area means they may benefit from foreign military sales acquisitions.
Items that were used and no longer in the U.S. inventory but in storage (called excess defense articles), are also sold through foreign sales to authorized countries. The country must pay for transportation of the item if it is stored in the U.S. and it is also responsible for any refurbishment it might need. Depots owned by AMC, including Anniston Army Depot, can normally do the refurbishment, and in many cases, the countries are choosing to do the work in the U.S. prior to delivery. Anniston Army Depot has done tank refurbishments for Iraq and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and may see more work from Saudi Arabia and even Morocco.
Turner emphasizes, however, that foreign military sales are not about the money, but about the relationships and how it supports our military.
"We are building partners for U.S. war fighters in all services," he said. "And we see the benefits daily, not only in the military-to-military relationships but also in improved diplomatic relationships and improved economic relationships that we have with other countries."
Turner cites the integrity and transparency of the process, not hardware, as how foreign military sales builds relationships. We promise capability, which is the 'total package' and can include equipment, training, facilities, publications and spare parts to sustain the capability they desire," he said.
And it's the local community, the very people supporting Armed Forces Celebration Week, who are helping USASAC provide capabilities and build relationships, making them part of the "Army's Face to the World."