A top U.S. State Department official on May 18 urged the domestic defense industry to ramp up production, as the department released its new Foreign Military Sales (FMS) 2023 Plan.

“We need you to follow a similar playbook to what FDR laid out more than 80 years ago: to act with all deliberate speed; to expand production capacity and shrink production timelines,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told the Aerospace Industries Association’s board of governors in Washington D.C. in reference to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Arsenal of Democracy” speech in December, 1940. “Coming up short in this task has clear consequences. When partners are informed of delays, they question our reliability. These delays affect their ability to meet our security needs and restock their inventories. These delays might also lead our partners to turn away from purchases of American-made equipment and turn toward others who are more willing suppliers.”

“This challenge is more acute and immediate today as we deliver life-saving support to Ukraine’s government and people,” she said. “Arming and equipping Ukraine has been an unquestioned necessity. We know, however, that it comes with a cost: it will take some years to refill warehouses depleted over the last 15 months.”

Providing critically needed defense equipment to U.S. allies when they need it “begins with improving our Foreign Military Sales process,” Sherman said. “Purchases of arms, equipment, and training through the FMS channel are a necessity in the face of threats in Ukraine or the Indo-Pacific or the Taiwan Strait or elsewhere. As these challenges evolve, so, too, must our FMS system.”

The FMS 2023 strategy says that, while the department approves 95 percent of FMS sales within 48 hours, the department should significantly accelerate the remaining five percent through 10 steps, including a regional–rather than country-by-country–approach to arms sales; reducing the “overuse” of Special Security Arrangements to reduce FMS deliveries by up to two years, as the department says that “standard FMS measures can provide sufficient safeguards to technology and end-use under most circumstances”; and prioritizing countries based on the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and DoD’s regional Combatant Command Theater Campaign Plans.

The Heritage Foundation said on May 17 that DoD has disincentivized surge production, however.

“Defense contractors are typically not incentivized to manufacture items quickly: They normally prefer longer periods of sustained performance versus surge contracts, which peak quickly and result in workforce turbulence,” according to a paper by Thomas Spoehr, the director of Heritage’s Center for National Defense, and Maiya Clark, a research associate at the center.

“As a result, when the government negotiates with a prime contractor to produce a given item for itself and for FMS customers, the contractor will negotiate delivery dates based on its current manufacturing capacity rather than increase manufacturing capacity to deliver munitions to all customers as quickly as possible,” the paper said. “Consistent and stable work stretched over multiple years makes better business sense for a contractor than building a new factory and hiring a new workforce just to close the factory and lay off the workforce when the contract has been filled.”

The report said that in late, 2021, “Taiwan had a $14 billion FMS backlog of defense goods ordered but not delivered.”

“By the end of 2022 that backlog had grown to $19 billion—not because of U.S. support to Ukraine but rather because of lengthy existing delivery delays from the defense industry and the lengthy U.S. approval process for FMS,” the study said.

Heritage said that, as of May 16, the U.S. had provided $21.1 billion of defense equipment to Ukraine through Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which authorizes transfers of U.S. equipment to allies in response to an “unforeseen emergency.”

The $21.1 billion PDA accounts for “nearly all the U.S. equipment already provided to Ukraine” by the U.S., the Heritage report said.