U.S. Reports FMS, Commercial Licenses for FY 96

On September 16, the State Department released a "Foreign Military Assistance Act Report to Congress." The report, mandated by section 655 of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act, details U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS), authorizations for commercial licenses of defense items and also lists U.S. military imports for fiscal year (FY) 1996.

The U.S. government transferred military equipment and services worth $12.7 billion between October 1, 1995, and September 30, 1996, to more than 150 different recipients through both FMS (actual deliveries only) and grant programs. The greatest proportion went to the Middle East and Europe, with Saudi Arabia leading at $2.94 billion. Nearly 75 percent of the total was transferred in support of equipment previously sold. Grant programs, which include excess defense articles, emergency drawdowns, and international military education and training (IMET), accounted for $872 million.

The Department of State authorized approximately 46,000 commercial licenses (valid for four years) for commercial defense articles and services valued at $27 billion although actual sales may not result. Seven nations (Australia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom) accounted for 57 percent of these transactions ($15.4 billion). Regionally, Western Europe and the Pacific concluded the most agreements, with the Middle East ranking third.

The report details $373 million worth of imports of defense articles, such as missile and aircraft components, 92 percent of which came from the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Sweden and Germany.

The report was issued this year for the first time since 1981, when the original language requiring an annual report was repealed from the Foreign Assistance Act. The 1996 National Defense Authorization Act reinstated the annual requirement; the FY 1997 report is due before February, 1998.