Updated: Aug 18, 2020
As China and Russia continue to increase military action throughout their regions, the United States continues to defend its treasured values and interests against these actions. The US can’t afford the risk of abandoning current strategies designed to strengthen its active international relationships, nor its efforts in forging new partnerships overseas. These initiatives are vital to mitigate risk in the current political climates at home and abroad.
Prioritizing alliances and cultivating support through new partnerships are only two of the three efforts the National Defense Strategy implemented in 2018. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper believes these steps will create a strategy specially coordinated to benefit American partnerships and alliances. Since taking office in 2019, Dr. Esper has made it clear this strategic effort to unite and build a coalition of like-minded nations will create an unmatchable competitive advantage over China and Russia.
NATO has also been doing its part to encourage a higher-state of readiness by influencing its members to prioritize spending on their defense budgets. As of today, approximately two-thirds of its members have pledged 2% of their GDP by 2021 toward this goal, and many have already started the implementation of these increases.
As a way to show commitment to our partnerships and allies in the Indo-Pacific, the DoD has executed numerous maritime operations designed to enhance the presence of deterrent networks and deepen interoperability. This effort has also led to numerous freedom-of-navigation exercises in the South China Sea to further deter Chinese aggression in the region. The increased presence of the United States in the area hasn't occurred since 2015. Esper hailed recent joint military exercises with the Indian Navy In November 2019 as "one of the all-important defense relationships of the 21st century".
A coalition led by the United States in the Middle East, which included over 80 allies and partners, has brought the ISIS physical caliphate to long-term defeat. In addition to this enduring success, US efforts in this region have also created a partnership with eight other nations in establishing the International Maritime Security Construct. This vital agreement not only enhances security but maintains order in the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.
DoD policy has also undergone much-needed improvement regarding foreign military sales by reducing expenses and creating a market for competitive financing to create more interoperability amongst partners while increasing our competitiveness.
For the second year in a row, DoD sales hit $55 billion in the fiscal year 2019. This figure created a 16% three-year rolling sales average, and the department continues to pursue this growth. Recently, DoD succeeded in its efforts to improve response time to partnered nation requests by 17%. This effort could not have occurred at a better time as the State Department may approve the sale of 105 of the F-35 aircraft to Japan, and has approved Belgium’s interest in the purchase of All Up Round MK 54 lightweight torpedoes. Additionally, there may also be a sale of eight MV-22 Osprey aircraft to Indonesia in the works, but department approval for this opportunity is still not known.
Enabling further interoperability between the US military and its allied and partnered nations through arms sales enhances many aspects of international cooperation. Further, it also creates opportunities for advanced training and technical assistance, which can only benefit these invaluable relationships for the future.