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.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: In reviewing any future Saudi Arabian request for additional aircraft, the Congress should request the Secretary of Defense to provide information on the progress the country has made toward self-sufficiency in operating and maintaining its F-5 aircraft. The Secretary of Defense should have the U.S. military services include the national guard forces in future evaluations of Saudi Arabia's military needs. At the time Congress is notified of a proposed sale, the Secretary of Defense should provide the estimated number of U.S. military personnel needed to carry out the sale and the impact on U.S. military preparedness of assigning such personnel. The Secretary of State should inform Congress at the time of a proposed weapons system sale of the level of future munitions support that may be required, such as air-to-air missiles and ammunitions for tank guns.


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