Pentagon's director of foreign weapons sale resigns

Pentagon's director of foreign weapons sale resigns
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The head of foreign military sales at the Pentagon is resigning after 15 months in the job.

Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) Director Heidi Grant will step down on Nov. 7 after “considering this transition for some time,” according to an agency statement released Tuesday.

DSCA Deputy Director Jed Royal will take over for Grant on an acting basis.

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Grant, who worked as a Defense Department official for 32 years, was the first civilian to lead DSCA since it was created. 

Her move comes as the agency — which approved more than $175 billion in weapons sales to other countries in fiscal 2020 — has had to weigh the benefits of protecting sensitive technologies against selling weapons to ally and partner countries to gain a foothold in regions around the globe.

The Trump administration, which frequently pushed major arms deals despite opposition from Congress, made several reforms to weapons sales policy while in power. Included among those was the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, updated in April 2018 which makes it easier to sell weapons to other countries, as well as the administration’s July 2020 reinterpretation of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

The Biden administration, however, has said it will factor in human rights in deciding who to sell weapons to.

Earlier this week Grant said competition with world powers such as China and Russia has given DSCA “a new lens” in the decision to sell weapons, Defense News reported.

“We have to look at this and say, if we’re not there our strategic competition is going to fill the void. Is that riskier than transferring high end technologies?”

She pointed to the U.S. declining to sell drones to the United Arab Emirates, a plan the Trump administration announced in November 2020 but was reversed by the Biden administration. Instead, China stepped in and offered the UAE their military equipment.

“It could have been us, we could be there, we could be training, advising and have that access,” Grant said at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting.

Grant's departure comes as DSCA has implemented a new organizational model which will allow the agency “to operate more efficiently and continuously meet the emerging needs of its stakeholders in service of U.S. and partner national security objectives,” according to the statement.