Over the coming year, high school students around the country will debate whether the U.S. should reduce its arms sales to foreign countries.
Specifically, the national debate topic that was selected for the 2019-20 school year is: Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce Direct Commercial Sales and/or Foreign Military Sales of arms from the United States.
As required by statute, the Congressional Research Service prepared a bibliography reflecting diverse points of view on U.S. arms sales to help inform student debaters on this topic.
“This selective bibliography, with brief annotations, is intended to assist debaters in identifying resources and references on the national debate topic,” the CRS document says. “It lists citations to journal articles, books, congressional publications, legal cases, and websites. The bibliography is divided into three broad sections: basic concepts and definitions, general overviews, and specific cases.”
The runner-up topic for this year’s national high school debate was: Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially change its nuclear weapons strategy.
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Other noteworthy new publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following.
The Department of Defense’s JEDI Cloud Program, updated August 2, 2019
U.S.-Iran Tensions and Implications for U.S. Policy, updated July 29, 2019
3D Printing: Overview, Impacts, and the Federal Role, August 2, 2019
Resolutions to Censure the President: Procedure and History, updated August 1, 2019
“In 2018, China’s arms sales increased, continuing a trend that enabled China to become the world’s fastest-growing arms supplier during the past 15 years,” according to the 2019 China Military Power report published by the Department of Defense. “From 2013 through 2017, China was the world’s fourth-largest arms supplier, completing more than $25 billion worth of arms sales.”
“Arms transfers also are a component of China’s foreign policy, used in conjunction with other types of military, economic aid, and development assistance to support broader foreign policy goals,” the Pentagon report said. “These include securing access to natural resources and export markets, promoting political influence among host country elites, and building support in international forums.”
Needless to say, the United States and other countries have long done the same thing, using arms exports as an instrument of foreign policy and political influence. Up to a point, however, US arms sales are regulated by laws that include human rights and other considerations. See U.S. Arms Sales and Human Rights: Legislative Basis and Frequently Asked Questions, CRS In Focus, May 2, 2019.
To assist soldiers in identifying Chinese weapons in the field, the US Army has produced a deck of “playing cards” featuring various weapons systems.
“The Worldwide Equipment Identification Playing Cards enable Soldiers to be able to readily identify enemy equipment and distinguish the equipment from friendly forces. Cards can be used at every level and across all services.” See Worldwide Equipment Identification Cards: China Edition, US Army TRADOC, April 2019.
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: 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
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
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
Through its international security assistance programs, the United States advances its foreign policy agenda, exercises influence, sometimes wreaks havoc or abets abusive conduct, and now and then does good things.
Security assistance refers to a variety of programs involving arms sales abroad, military training of foreign security services, and other defense-related activities.
A new non-profit website called Security Assistance Monitor presents “all publicly available data on U.S. foreign security assistance programs worldwide from 2000 to the present.”
It is a project of the Center for International Policy, with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Latin America Working Group Education Fund, Project on Middle East Democracy, and Washington Office of Latin America.
Richly documented and handsomely presented, it is an impressive new resource for journalists and students of international security policy.
Foreign Internal Defense (FID) is a related but distinct concept. Both involve support to foreign governments, but unlike security assistance, FID may include U.S. military operations as well as other forms of non-military aid.
FID “involves application of the instruments of U.S. national power in support of a foreign nation confronted by threats,” according to a new U.S. Army manual that explores the issue in depth. See Foreign Internal Defense, Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 3-05.2, August 19, 2015.
“FID may include financial, intelligence, and law enforcement assistance” as well as military support in some cases. “The fundamental goal is to prevent a downward spiral of instability by forestalling and defeating threats and by working to correct conditions that may prompt violence.”
By Matt Schroeder
As the trial against alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout gets underway, we thought the following documents from the case might be of interest:
(1) Handwritten notes that Bout reportedly took during the meeting in Thailand. The notes include short-hand references to various weapons, including “AA” or anti-aircraft (believed to be a reference to Igla missiles), “AK-47,” “UAV” (unmanned aerial vehicle), 10,000,000 “7,62 x 54” (ammunition used in Russian Dragunov sniper rifles and PKM machine guns), RPG-7 and RPG-22 rocket launchers, and “AG-17” – presumably a reference to the AGS-17 30 mm automatic grenade launcher. Some of the notes are more cryptic, including references to 500 “60 mm”, 200 “82 mm” and 40 “120 mm.” Presumably, these are references to mortars since 60mm, 82mm and 120mm are all common calibers for mortar rounds.
(2) A print-out of an email that Bout allegedly sent to one of the DEA’s confidential sources. This email is mentioned prominently in other court documents made public shortly after Bout was arrested. Oddly, the email was reportedly sent from an address linked to an account set up by a “Victor But.” Use of an alias so close to his own name when setting up an email account intended for negotiating arms transfers seems uncharacteristically careless for Bout.
(3) Excerpts from pamphlets on Soviet-era cargo planes that Bout allegedly recommended for delivering weapons to the FARC. According to investigators, the weapons were to be air-dropped from these planes. The same delivery method was used by the orchestrators of a 1999 plot to divert to the FARC 50,000 Jordanian assault rifles intended for the Peruvian military. The traffickers managed to drop 10,000 of the rifles into FARC-controlled areas of Colombia before the government of Jordan learned of the scheme and canceled the deal. In their book, Merchant of Death, Doug Farah and Stephen Braun suggest that Bout was linked to the diversion. They claim that the plane used to deliver the rifles “…belong[ed] to one of Bout’s front companies…”
(6) Technical documents on anti-tank missiles that Bout allegedly offered to sell to the FARC. The documents were reportedly taken from a memory stick provided to the DEA during the sting. It appears that missile on offer was the AT-4 Spigot, a wire-guided Russian missile system that has a maximum range of 2000-2500 meters and can penetrate up to 400-460 mm of armor, depending on the type of missile used.
The documents (and the above assessments) were originally posted on the Strategic Security Blog in 2009. The original post, which contains additional analysis, is available here.
by Matt Schroeder
The Federation of American Scientists has acquired two previously unreleased US government reports on arms transfers, one on recent sales of US weapons and the other on arms purchased for the Afghanistan government with US military aid. Both documents were acquired under the Freedom of Information Act.
The first report, which is often referred to as the Section 36(a) report after the section in the Arms Export Control Act that requires it, contains data on, inter alia, Foreign Military Sales, transfers of Excess Defense Articles, grants and loans through the Foreign Military Financing Program, projected arms sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales, and Security Assistance Surveys (including end-use monitoring). The report contains detailed data on transfers of Major Defense Equipment in 2009 and the total value of arms transfers by country in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2010 (1 October – 31 December 2009). Given recent unrest in the Middle East, data on recent or pending arms sales to Bahrain, Egypt, and Yemen is likely to be of particular interest.
The other document acquired by the FAS is a lengthy (137 page) list of arms procured through the Defense Department’s Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF). The millions of items listed in the report range from “drugs and surgical dressings” to M24 sniper rifles to Russian cargo aircraft. Given that many of these purchases are not recorded in the main annual reports on US arms sales, this document may be the most complete (consolidated) source of data on items acquired through the ASFF.
A publication of the FAS Arms Sales Monitoring Project
Vol. 3, Issue 3
Editor: Matt Schroeder
Editor’s Note: Wikileaks and arms trafficking, Missile Watch sponsorship program
United States: FAS obtains key counter-MANPADS report
Additional News & Resources
About the Authors
About Missile Watch
The surprise extradition of notorious arms trafficker Viktor Bout to the United States tops the list of developments covered in this edition of Missile Watch. The former Russian intelligence officer is widely considered to be one of the most prolific arms traffickers of the last twenty years, and his trial is likely to yield important new insights into the illicit arms trade. Also noteworthy is the release of the Department of Homeland Security’s final report on its counter-MANPADS program. The report confirms that two anti-missile systems evaluated during the program are capable of protecting planes from MANPADS, but the $43 billion price tag may preclude their installation on more than a small number of airliners.
Wikileaks and arms trafficking
The other recent headline-generating event in which MANPADS featured prominently is the release by Wikileaks of hundreds of thousands of classified documents on US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a comparable number of diplomatic cables from around the world. These documents reportedly include references to alleged trafficking and use of MANPADS by insurgents, but they are of little value to policymakers or researchers. Most of the documents from Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, appear to be preliminary, unsubstantiated tactical level field reports written by individuals whose knowledge of MANPADS and arms trafficking is difficult to discern. For researchers, any information contained in these documents is useful only as a starting point, and the manner in which they were released all but guarantees that government officials capable of clarifying their contents will refuse to discuss them.
At the same time, the reports could be extremely useful to insurgents and arms traffickers. By alerting suspected traffickers to US government monitoring of their activities, the leaked documents could jeopardize ongoing investigations as traffickers break off contact with undercover agents, destroy documentation associated with the illicit activities, or relocate their operations. The net result may not only be impunity for traffickers and their accomplices, but also months or years of wasted effort by investigators, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted government resources. For these and many other reasons articulated elsewhere, none of the documents released by Wikileaks are replicated, cited, or analyzed in Missile Watch.
Missile Watch sponsorship program
The FAS has launched a new initiative aimed at expanding Missile Watch and ensuring its long-term viability. As the only publication dedicated exclusively to tracking illicit activity involving MANPADS, Missile Watch plays a unique role in documenting, assessing, and contextualizing developments in the MANPADS threat and global efforts to combat it. Providing this service is resource-intensive, however, and Missile Watch is currently an unfunded project. Your generous support will allow us to strengthen Missile Watch by
1) expanding our access to court documents and other untapped data sources,
2) improving our ability to assess the technical authenticity of online videos and photographs of illicit MANPADS,
increasing and diversifying our sources through the translation of more foreign language documents, and
3) broadening our coverage to include other advanced conventional weapons.
All sponsors will receive pre-publication access to each issue and invitations to annual virtual briefings on the MANPADS threat. Sponsors who contribute $100 or more will also receive a signed copy of the Small Arms Trade. Called “indispensible” by Foreign Policy Editor Moisés Naím, the book features a four-chapter history of the MANPADS threat and global efforts to control it. Additional benefits for major donors include customized briefings and, when appropriate, recognition in Missile Watch.
For more information on becoming a Missile Watch sponsor, click here.
Deliveries of arms through the Defense Department’s Foreign Military Sales Program (FMS) increased by nearly $700 million in fiscal year (FY) 2009, according to the most recent edition of the Annual Military Assistance Report. The report, which is often referred to as the “Section 655 Report,” is compiled each year by the Defense Department and the State Department. The Defense Department’s contributions to the annual report are acquired by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) through annual requests under the Freedom of Information Act. While the report is useful for tracking trends in the overall value of certain types of arms sales to specific countries, it provides very little detailed information on individual exports, or exports arranged through non-traditional US military aid programs. Changing the way the data is aggregated and presented, and expanding the report to include data on all arms exports, would make the report more useful and improve congressional and public understanding of US arms exports.
Click here to read the full article.
A publication of the FAS Arms Sales Monitoring Project
Vol. 3, Issue 2
Editor: Matt Schroeder
Contributing Author: Scoville Fellow Matt Buongiorno
Global News: Survey of black market prices for shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles reveals large differences in missile prices
Afghanistan: No shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles in seized Afghan arms caches, confirms ISAF spokesperson
Egypt: Shoulder-fired missiles found in the Sinai were old, “in very bad condition,” says Egyptian official
Iraq: Shoulder-fired missile in video of insurgent attack could be Iranian
Iraq: Missile seized in 2008 was a 30-year-old Russian Strela-2M MANPADS, documents reveal
Iraq: At least 27 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles seized from arms caches in Iraq since February
Lebanon: Israeli claim about Igla-S delivery to Hezbollah raises many questions
Peru: U.S. government concerned over reported missile diversion in Peru, but praises investigation
Somalia: Shoulder-fired missile attack at Mogadishu airport foiled by peace-keepers, according to UN report
Additional News & Resources
About Missile Watch
About the Authors
The global trade in ammunition for small arms and light weapons is worth an estimated $4.3 billion, according to a comprehensive new study released today.
The study is part of a multi-year assessment of authorized international transfers of small arms and light weapons, their parts, accessories and ammunition. Previous findings on the international trade in firearms are available in last year’s edition of the Small Arms Survey’s annual yearbook.
Highlights from this year’s chapter include the following:
• The USD 4.3 billion ammunition finding shows that the long-standing estimate of USD 4 billion for the total trade (including weapons, parts, and accessories) considerably undervalues recent activity.
• In 2007, 26 countries had documented exports of small arms ammunition worth more than USD 10 million.
• The trade in propellant chemicals is worth at least tens, and perhaps hundreds, of millions of US dollars each year.
• Governments procure most of their light weapons ammunition from domestic producers when possible. Therefore, international transfers of light weapons ammunition are probably a small percentage of global public procurement.
• Ammunition imported by Western countries is overwhelmingly sourced from Western companies. Public procurement data from seven Western states indicates that in recent years they have received less than four per cent of their light weapons ammunition (by value) from non-Western firms.
• In 2007 the top exporters of all small arms and light weapons (those with annual exports of at least USD 100 million), according to available customs data, were (in descending order) the United States, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom, China, Switzerland, Canada, Turkey, and the Russian Federation. The top importers of all small arms and light weapons for 2007 (those with annual imports of at least USD 100 million), according to available customs data, were (in descending order) the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, and Spain.
A summary of the chapter is available here.
The full chapter is available here.
By Matthew Buongiorno
Shortly after the United States invaded Iraq and disbanded its army, the Bush Administration concluded that a key to stabilizing the country was the creation of a self-sufficient and effective Iraqi Security Force (ISF). To this end, the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF) – later succeeded by the Iraq Security Forces Fund (ISFF) – was established as a train-and-equip program charged with quickly delivering weaponry to the ISF. While the ad hoc program was successful in quickly supplying large quantities of weapons to the ISF, it lacked the stringent accountability procedures applied to other U.S. arms transfer programs and, consequently, may have failed to prevent the diversion of U.S. weapons.
Recognizing the dangers associated with poorly secured weaponry, the United States has taken several important steps to improve stockpile security and accountability procedures for U.S.-origin and U.S.-funded weapons transferred to Iraq. These steps are assessed in the latest edition of the Public Interest Report.
The article draws on documents retrieved by the Federation of American Scientists via the Freedom of Information Act. These documents, as well as additional documents not cited in the article but of relevance to the debate over security and accountability procedures in Iraq, are posted below:
By Matt Schroeder
Arms sold by the Defense Department to foreign recipients totaled more than $15 billion in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2009, according to a report obtained by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). The quarterly report, which is dated February 2009 and is required by Section 36(a) of the Arms Export Control Act, indicates that defense articles and services sold through Defense Department Security Assistance programs from October through December 2008 were worth approximately $15.79 billion. The United Arab Emirates was the largest buyer, accounting for $7 billion of sales. Saudi Arabia was a distant second with $1.87 billion, and Iraq was third with $947 million in sales. The remaining top ten recipients are listed in the table below. Sales to the top ten countries accounted for more than 80% of total sales, and nearly 89% of unclassified arms sales. These data show that a handful of countries continue to account – in dollar value terms – for the vast majority of arms sold through the US Defense Department.
|DSCA Security Assistance Sales
1 October 2008 through 31 December 2008
|Total Estimated Case Value
|United Arab Emirates
|Source: Quarterly report required under Section 36(a) of the Arms Export Control Act, February 2009. Table compiled by the Federation of American Scientists.
The report contains new or more detailed data on the following:
• Waivers of nonrecurrent cost (NC) recoupment charges, 1 October 2008 through 31 December 2008. Note: this section contains detailed commodity data.
Much of this data is not available in other reports, or is not as detailed. For example, the Section 36(a) report contains specific data on missile sales, most of which are redacted in the most comprehensive publicly available source of data, the Annual Military Assistance Report (i.e. Section 655 report). Data on sales of other commodities are also notably more specific than comparable data in the Annual Military Assistance Report. For example, the Section 36(a) report reveals that an October 2008 ammunition sale to Israel consisted of HEDP, White Star & Practice 40 mm ammunition valued at $9,897,682. Comparable data on ammunition (deliveries) in the Annual Military Assistance Report is aggregated into commodity categories that are so broad (e.g. “cartridge, 37 mm to 75 mm”) that the data are almost meaningless.
The Section 36(a) report is not a substitute for the Annual Military Assistance Report. It only includes disaggregated data. on sales agreements, not actual deliveries, and only on a small sub-set of Defense Department arms sales (i.e. sales of Major Defense Equipment valued at $1 million or more). Furthermore, the data on commercial sales were withheld from public release by the Department of State [To the State Department’s credit, however, they recently posted a CSV file containing the data on commercial exports in the FY08 Section 655 report. CSV files are readily convertable into excel spreadsheets, databases, and other use-friendly research tools].
In short, the Section 36(a) report is a useful supplement to the Annual Military Assistance Report, and its narrow and specific commodity categorization is a model for other reports, many of which, like the Annual Military Assistance Report, are in dire need of an overhaul (See Eight Recommendations for Improving Transparency in US Arms Transfers).
The FAS has submitted requests for more recent editions of the Section 36(a) report, and will post them on the Strategic Security Blog and our U.S. Arms Transfers: Government Data webpage as they become available.
Click here for a pdf version of this summary.
 A more complete accounting of the value of arms sales in FY2009 will be released within the next couple months as part of the “supporting information” in the Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations. Data from previous years is available on the Federation of American Scientists’ website.
 It should be noted that the commodity-specific data in the Section 36(a) report is on agreements (i.e. accepted Letters of Offer and Acceptance) while the data on Defense Department exports in the Section 655 report is on arms that were delivered to the foreign recipient.
 By disaggregated data, we are referring to country-specific data that is disaggregated by commodity.