Local small businesses go global for defense sales

The theater at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s Davidson Center was filled with small, locally owned defense contracting firms eager to learn more about foreign military sales.

They were not disappointed as The North Alabama International Trade Association (NAITA) presented its industry networking event, “FMS Across the Globe.”

The keynote speaker, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Drushal, commanding general of USASAC, discussed the goals for shortening the time between Letters of Request and Letters of Acceptance, as well as the need to combat the perception that FMS is a detriment for Army readiness.

“Our international partners are relying on us to get it right, there are other choices out there; we need to collaborate to increase speed of execution,” Drushal said.

Drushal also emphasized the Total Package Approach and it is a win-win for the army as well as FMS partners. As a component of the “4 Ts”: Trust, Transparency, Teamwork, and Total Package Approach, TPA includes spare parts, equipment maintenance, training, documentation and non-standard equipment.

The first panel discussion, “FMS Around the Globe,” featured a trio of USASAC regional directors: Cols. Jason Crowe, Jose Valentin, and Michael Morton.

The discussion focused on eliminating the competition by providing expert training, maintaining a presence, and providing high-quality American equipment. The panel also touched on the importance of securing prime FMS market, responsiveness, unique regional requirements, and how industry can assist by providing compatible spare parts and training support.

Timothy Schimpp, security assistant specialist for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports & Cooperation, presented the Export Control Update. Heiscussed Technology, Security, Foreign Disclosure, the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy Implementation Plan, and how export control reform is working to create “Higher Fences around Fewer Things,” while lowering “fences” for items, such as spare parts.

The second panel session, “Collaboration to Meet FMS Demand,” was Nancy Small, director of Small Business Programs for the Army Materiel Command. Panelists were Larry Lewis, president of Project XYZ, and Rob Willis, director of Aviation & International Programs for Integration Innovation Inc. (i3). They discussed how businesses must know their customers and what the business’s value proposition means to the customer, the importance of understanding the realities of cultural expectations, differences, and how business is conducted in other countries.

For more information on upcoming NAITA events, visit www.naita.org.