State Department Quietly Announces Formation Of A Defense Advocacy Working Group

Defense Industry
Department Of State Quietly Announces Formation Of A Defense Advocacy Working Group
Reeves & Dola, LLP
Reeves & Dola, LLP

USA – -( Last week, the Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Puneet Talwar, announced at the Aerospace Industries Association Spring Board of Governor’s Meeting the establishment of a Defense Advocacy Working Group to “identify areas that require heightened communication and an extra advocacy effort.”

The following are select highlights from the speech, the entirety of which is available on the Department of State’s website.

  • “In the face of multiple crises around the world, today I’d like to speak about how America is leading in the context of today’s security environment, and how government and industry can work together – particularly in the arena of defense trade advocacy.”
  • “The fact is, we benefit from the American brand that you help build overseas. American companies create the most innovative, most effective solutions to meet our partners’ needs. And you have all made American products the gold standard in the defense industry. As Secretary Kerry said this week at Boeing, “the world wants what America makes.” We in government would be foolish if we did not use that to our advantage as we press forward on our national security interests.
  • “And likewise, you in industry benefit from having U.S. leadership that’s trusted and strong, clear and coherent. The truth is that we each have a stake in each other’s success.
  • “So when we decide that security cooperation with a foreign partner will further our national security, it’s deeply in our interest to work in an organized, collaborative, and proactive way to advocate for American interests and yes, American industry.
  • “Now, many of you know that there are serious challenges in today’s defense trade market. It’s a competitive marketplace with other technology. The defense budget is tight here at home. Other governments can be more aggressive and often have fewer restrictions on what they are willing to sell and to whom.
  • “We also realize that our licensing and regulatory system is imperfect… that sometimes the waits are too long or the process too opaque. And that’s exactly why we are implementing Export Control Reform – to unshackle ourselves from Cold War regulations and adapt to the 21st century… to focus our efforts on a narrower set of items that really matter… and to provide greater clarity and transparency to you in industry.”
  • “But there are instances – specific sales – that require a tailored, unified effort to advocacy. That’s why we are building a single group, the Defense Advocacy Working Group, to identify areas that require heightened communication and an extra advocacy effort. At our different agencies, we share the same goals, but we don’t always synchronize our actions as well as we should. One central list and one central advocacy working group will lock in coordination from start to finish….”
  • “…we need to be more transparent and responsive to industry. As our partners in the private sector, you should be able to ask us any time about our objectives. And you shouldn’t have to go agency to agency to agency to get answers.”
  • “That’s why, starting in July, we are launching a senior-level, quarterly industry outreach forum to have a two-way conversation with you. This quarterly forum will allow us to get input from you, assess upcoming sales, and build an advocacy strategy rooted in unity.”

The Department of State’s formation of a working group to coordinate advocacy for American products in the international defense market appears to be a positive development.

However, the rollout is questionable. Assistant Secretary Talwar stated that it is in the U.S. government’s interest to advocate for American industry with foreign partners. Assuming he used the term “industry” in the inclusive rather than the exclusive sense, why was the audience so limited?

For true and effective advocacy, such a working group should look to all relevant defense trade segments for input on how to improve the U.S. position in the international marketplace. Indeed, effective use of such a group may carry out the Administration’s stated goal of improving national security through increased defense trade with international partners.

The above analysis is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed or used as legal advice. Receipt of this alert does not establish, in and of itself, an attorney-client relationship.

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