There's a little-discussed department of the U.S. government called the Defense Security Cooperation Agency whose job it is to make sure big American arm sales to other countries are a good idea.
If, say, Saudi Arabia wants to buy a gaggle of M109A6 Paladin Howitzer systems, as they apparently do this month, it's the DSCA who tries to determine whether the weapons will be responsibly used in Saudi Arabia and ensure the sale, in general, is in America's interests.
For instance, in the case of the Howitzer deal, the DSCA said, "This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important partner which has been and continues to be a leading contributor of political stability and economic progress in the Middle East. This sale will increase the Royal Saudi Land Force's (RSLF) interoperability with U.S. forces and conveys U.S. commitment to Saudi Arabia's security and armed forces modernization."
The DSCA publicizes the major weapons sales that it approves, so from time to time an email will pop in my inbox saying the U.S. is about to sell helicopters to Spain or something like that. Taken together, these notices provide a window into the size and pace of major weapon sales out of the U.S.
To get an idea of how much money is involved and how often these deals happen, I produced this video below that shows the deals that have been approved by the DSCA so far this month alone. (Hint: It's nearly $9 billion.)
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