Defense Trade Advisory Group September 2017 Plenary Report

U.S. Department of State Website
U.S. Department of State Website

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USA -( The Defense Trade Advisory Group (DTAG) held its most recent open session meeting on September 8, 2017. For those unfamiliar with DTAG, it is a committee of industry members appointed by the U.S. Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) to provide regular consultation and coordination with DDTC on issues involving U.S. laws, policies, and regulations (specifically, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)).

Additional information on DTAG, as well as minutes and presentations from past meetings can be found on DDTC’s website. F.A.I.R.’s Executive Director, Johanna Reeves, is a current member of DTAG.

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defense Trade, Brian Nilsson, kicked off the meeting with introductory remarks on the state of affairs at DDTC.

The following are highlights from DAS Nilsson’s remarks:

  • There has been movement on the rewrites for U.S. Munitions List Categories I (Firearms, Close Assault Weapons and Combat Shotguns), II (Guns and Armament), and III (Ammunition/Ordnance). There has been a series of inter-agency meetings to discuss the rewrites, and the target for publication of these rules is “within the next year.” However, the Department of Commerce must publish a rule amending the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to accept the items that will move off of the USML. Unfortunately, the Department of Commerce does not qualify for the foreign affairs exemption from Executive Order 13771, as does DDTC. Executive Order 13771 requires that “when an executive department or agency…publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.” This means that if the Department of Commerce is delayed in meeting its Executive Order 13771 obligations, this will impact the timeline for publication of rewritten Categories I, II, and III because DDTC cannot remove items from the USML without the Department of Commerce being able to issue simultaneously a rule adding the items to the Commerce Control List (CCL) under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).Clean up rules for USML Categories V and XI are expected because of Commodity Jurisdiction (CJ) requests that have been adjudicated.
  • A revision to §126.4 is currently in interagency review, then will be sent to OMB for publication in the Federal Register.
  • A revision to the 123.4 exemption for repair and return of defense articles has been drafted, but is receiving scrutiny during the OMB review process.
  • Some Advisory Opinions (AO) and General Correspondence (GC) have been delayed because they require high-level regulatory approval. Since there are no confirmed political appointees within the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM), which is the Bureau under which DDTC is housed, any AO or GC that requires such regulatory approval must go to Secretary of State Tillerson for signature.
  • The UAV export policy is under review. This will be the first policy review undertaken by this Administration.
  • Improvements to the Defense Trace Cooperation Treaties with the U.K. and Australia are being reviewed in hopes to identify improvements that can make the Treaty Exemptions more user friendly.
  • A review of the current suppressor and silencer policy is being undertaken. Currently, approval is only given for official end-users (i.e., not for civilian end-use).

DAS Nilsson also noted that there is an inter-agency partnership currently underway, which is considering a wholesale rewrite of the ITAR. The purpose of this endeavor is to clarify the ITAR and make it easier to understand and follow.

This proposed ITAR rewrite would be done in phases, through a series of rules:

  1. First would be a restructuring of the ITAR. This rule has been drafted, but is currently under review at the White House.
  2. Rules would follow to revise and update definitions.
  3. Updates to Part 124 to add to the ITAR certain information that is currently contained in the Guidelines for Preparing Agreements.

The next public DTAG meeting is scheduled for December 7, 2017. There will be a publication in the Federal Register announcing the meeting and providing instruction for public attendance, for those interested in sitting in on the next DTAG open session.


About The F.A.I.R. Trade Group:

The F.A.I.R. Trade Group is a 501(c) (6) organization dedicated since 1994 to protecting the interests of the firearms and ammunition import and export community. F.A.I.R. operates entirely on the funds derived from our dues-paying membership. If you are interested in becoming a member or contributing to the organization, please visit our website at:

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Bureaucratic Creep or is Gallop a more accurate term, needs to be strongly checked, sorry if I repeat myself. Seems to me that the checking above mentioned falls well within the purview of The Congress, e.g. The House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, should they ever find the energy to properly perform their duties.

Dick Loper

I was recently on the Board of Directors for the Winchester Arms Collector Association, WACA. While on the BOD, we received information that the DDTC was labeling gunsmiths that do NOT manufacture firearms, but only fix them, as ” manufacturers” and require them to register with the DDTC at significant expense or risk onerous criminal penalties. If this is true, a large number of “mom & Pop” gunsmiths will go out of business and fewer and fewer local gunsmiths will be available to fix guns for sportsmen/women. First, is this true, and if yes, please correct this so we can… Read more »


Strikes me that the citizenry needs to wake up and raise hell with their elected representatives over exactly this sort of thing. Of course, such action might necessitate, perish the thought, rescuing a few moments from Monday Night Football or whatever sporting fiasco the television moguls have opted to shove at their audience. Peopld, gun owners especially need to deciede which is more important. Re this, one hopes for the best, but viewing past performances, one wonders.


To the extent that the above mentioned, which seems to go on at great length getting exactly where one wonders, adversely on the basic civil and constitutional rights of Americans in this country,The above mentioned should be declared and viewed as null and void.


Another typing OOPS. Adversely should be followed by impact. Apologies.

Wild Bill

, It is all about the federal government monitoring and regulating industrial sales of small arms to foreign countries. We can’t have Iran buying millions of M16A2s from Colt Industries to give to terrorist groups or at least that is the theory.


WIld Bill

How about the individual citizen opting to purchase a rifle, even two, plus the appropriate caliber of ammunition. Maybe I’m just evil minded, certainly a possibility, but I look upon the antics of bureaucratic agencies with great suspicion.

Wild Bill

, you should review the actions of bureaucratic agencies with great suspicion, but the State Dept is not involved with domestic sales to domestic customers. ITARs are International Traffic in Arms Regulations.


Wild Bill
State Dept/ITAR is involved with domestic sales to domestic people.

Itar requires all who manufacture to register and comply with records keeping requirements, even if they do not export.

This includes gunsmiths who machine firearms to receive accessories.


More likely simply sensible than evil minded, though that is a possibility with anyone, including me.


Oh, by the way, how come The State Dept. becomes in domestic transactions, another example of “bureau creep”, or “bureau gallop”?


They would likely purchase the AK-47.

Wild Bill

, are you sure that International Traffic in Arms Reg.s apply to domestic sales to domestic persons? It is my understanding that they only apply to U.S. manufacturers, exporters, and brokers of defense articles, defense services, or related technical data are required to register with U.S. Department of State, and registration is only a means to provide the U.S. Government with necessary information on who is involved in armament manufacturing and exporting. But if you have more, then I am all ears!