New Pentagon target: State Dept. export of U.S. arms

Friday, May 2, 2003

The Defense Department, emboldened by the successful military campaign against Iraq, has launched an effort to win control over the export of U.S. weapons.

U.S. troops were stunned by the large amount of Western weapons found in Iraq, officials said. They said a U.S. fighter-jet was downed by a French-origin Roland anti-aircraft system.

The Pentagon campaign has led to a clash with the State Department, which has formal control over arms exports and nonproliferation policies.

Officials said that aides to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have argued that a key lesson in the war in Iraq is for the Pentagon to be more involved in arms exports and nonproliferation. They cited the large amount of foreign aid to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.

"You can no longer divorce the Pentagon's authority to wage war from the prospect that U.S. troops will encounter a range of advanced enemy weapons from Western and former East Bloc states," a Pentagon official said. "It's simply a key lesson from the war in Iraq."

The bureaucratic struggle comes amid a Bush administration review of U.S. arms export policy. The State Department has regarded weapons exports as a way to reward U.S. allies and help American contractors.

Officials said Rumsfeld supports the Pentagon campaign but does not seek to sideline the State Department from arms exports and nonproliferation.

Instead, Rumsfeld envisions formal consultations between Pentagon and State that would determine U.S. arms exports to allies and export controls of dual-use systems by Washington's allies. Currently, the Pentagon provides input in such issues, but decision are issued by the secretary of state.

In March, the Pentagon moved to obtain authority over security assistance to U.S. allies. In a first, the Defense Department requested $1.4 billion for U.S. allies in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, the Pentagon was also given authority to help run a post-Saddam Iraq.

The aid used has come from Foreign Military Financing and International Military Education and Training, programs normally administered by the State Department.

So far, Congress has rejected the Pentagon's drive for authority in foreign and security assistance. The House and Senate Appropriations committees approved the Pentagon's request for funding but denied granting the department special authority to spend the mnoey.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover