Defense

October 12, 2012

Foreign Military Sales a billion-dollar business

Foreign Military Sales are big business to the U.S. Air Force.

Brig. Gen. James Haywood, director of the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the overall administrator of a $128.3 billion portfolio supporting Foreign Military Sales to 100 countries and nine NATO organizations.

U.S. Foreign Military Sales include not only a variety of weapon systems but also dozens of customers throughout the world who speak myriad languages and observe a variety of customs. One partner, Singapore, which has four KC-135 tankers supported by AFSAC, is in a time zone that’s 13 hours ahead of Tinker Air Force Base.

“That’s an expected part of our business,” Haywood said during a trip to Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., Sept. 27. “Our foreign partners – even if they’re halfway around the world – want U.S. Air Force capabilities. They are our customers.”

Different customers have different questions, different interests, different concerns, different systems, different levels of involvement, he noted. “Whatever it might be, though, we’re more than willing to get and provide the information they think they need to have,” the general said. “We treat each customer as a valued partner.”

The general’s AFSAC staff totals about 600. However, much of the FMS activity is performed in program offices and sustainment offices, he said. When those personnel are included, the number triples to 1,800-plus, including uniformed military personnel, government civilians, and private-sector contractors, he said.

During his visit to Tinker, the general received several briefings on the FMS satellite office here. “I’m getting acquainted with the FMS-related activities here, what the satellite office does, who they interface with, and how they are able to integrate the FMS functions that occur here that are being executed at Tinker.”

The general flew to Hill AFB Sept. 28 for a similar briefing, and plans to visit Robins AFB “sometime soon,” to get familiar with the logistics complex and its FMS efforts. AFSAC has an SO at Hanscom AFB and maintains a close, collaborative relationship with FMS personnel in the Armaments Directorate at Eglin AFB.

The reorganization of Air Force Materiel Command will “improve our FMS information flow,” Haywood said. It will “streamline how we do our business.” Previously, “We had to go up the chain, over into any one of the former product or logistics centers, and back down, in order to conduct business.” Now, though, “We’ve got the FMS business largely consolidated within the LCMC. That makes it easy for me to communicate with the program offices that execute much of our work.”

FMS financial processes are being streamlined, too, he said. “Instead of dealing across centers, we’re now largely consolidated within one center.”

Haywood said he’s “waiting to see” whether sequestration will have much impact on his directorate. “It may ultimately affect our FMS business,” he conceded. However, he added, “Because our foreign partners pay to support and run the FMS business, in some ways we’ll be less impacted” by sequestration. “The FMS business is self-paying in that regard.”

 




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