Secrecy News

US Dominates Global Arms Sales: CRS

Last year, the United States led the world in arms sales, tallying up $36.2 billion in worldwide arms transfer agreements. Russia took second place with $10.2 billion in arms transfer agreements, out of a global total of $71.8 billion in 2014.

This information, and much more on the subject, was presented in a new report from the Congressional Research Service on Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2007-2014, dated December 21, 2015.

The contents of the 70-page report were first described in the New York Times on December 25. The day before, relatedly, the Department of State published its own statutorily-required report on World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, covering the period 2002-2012.

Annual CRS reports on arms transfers had been the province of CRS specialist Richard F. Grimmett for three decades from the first such report in 1982 until his retirement in 2012. The CRS arms transfer reports are still known informally in some graying circles as “the Grimmett reports.” Besides his own considerable subject matter expertise, Grimmett seemed to have “sources” in the executive branch, making his work difficult to replicate or extend by others, no matter how diligent they might be. And for the past three years, no one at CRS has produced a follow-on report in the series until last week’s new report, authored by specialist Catherine A. Theohary.

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The role of diversity (e.g. of race, sex, or sexual preference) in the U.S. military is examined in another new report from the Congressional Research Service.

Do measures to enhance diversity in the armed services conflict with the military’s meritocratic culture? Does enforced diversity weaken readiness or strengthen it? Or perhaps weaken it in the short term and strengthen it in the long term?

Admitting no policy preference of its own, the CRS report (authored by analyst Kristy N. Kamarck) does a thorough job of representing the various competing and contrasting views on the subject.  See Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Armed Services: Background and Issues for Congress, December 23, 2015.

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Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that were issued last week include the following.

The Federal Election Commission: Enforcement Process and Selected Issues for Congress, December 22, 2015

The Federal Election Commission: Overview and Selected Issues for Congress, December 22, 2015

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations in Brief, updated December 23, 2015

Haiti Under President Martelly: Current Conditions and Congressional Concerns, updated December 23, 2015

Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated December 22, 2015

Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress, updated December 22, 2015

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress, updated December 21, 2015

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program: Overview and Impact of the Affordable Care Act, December 21, 2015

Small Business Administration (SBA) Funding: Overview and Recent Trends, updated December 24, 2015

Small Business Administration: A Primer on Programs and Funding, updated December 23, 2015

Nuclear Energy: Overview of Congressional Issues, updated December 23, 2015

Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables, updated December 23, 2015

Salaries of Members of Congress: Congressional Votes, 1990-2015, updated December 23, 2015

Western Water and Drought: Legislative Analysis of H.R. 2898 and S. 1894, December 23, 2015

Air Quality: EPA’s 2013 Changes to the Particulate Matter (PM) Standard, updated December 23, 2015

2013 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5): Designating Nonattainment Areas, updated December 23, 2015

Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated December 22, 2015

Congressional Efforts to Reduce Restrictions on Growing Industrial Hemp, CRS Insight, updated December 23, 2015