Perspectives on Military Sales to Saudi Arabia

ID-77-19A: Published: Oct 26, 1977. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 1977.

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Saudi Arabia is a major U.S. military sales customer. The United States has assisted Saudi Arabia in defining its defense needs, which, in the absence of an imminent threat, appear to be to protect its borders and oil fields. Through sales of construction expertise, equipment, training, and management, the United States is helping to develop Saudi armed forces to meet these needs. Saudi Arabia is vital to the United States for political, economic, and geographical reasons.

From fiscal year 1950 through September 30, 1976, U.S. military sales agreements with Saudi Arabia totaled over $12.1 billion. Construction represents the largest part, or about 63%, of total foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia. The Corps of Engineers manages military sales construction. Continued involvement can increase U.S. influence in Saudi Arabia and provide increased opportunities to U.S. contractors and businessmen. U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia's armed forces modernization program will continue for several years and may increase in magnitude. In defining Saudi Arabia's defense requirements, DOD has not explicitly included the capabilities of all Saudi forces. As of March 1977, 912 DOD personnel and approximately 2,961 contractor personnel were involved in providing management, training, and services for Saudi Arabia under military sales agreements or commercial contracts. Increases are planned for the near future. The lack of Saudi personnel has impeded the progress of some modernization programs. The continued U.S. presence could be important to U.S. security objectives.

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