The US State Department cleared $83.5 billion in Foreign Military Sales (FMS) for the fiscal year 2020. This amount is the highest in a single year for the Trump administration and is an increase of $15 billion from the 2019 fiscal year.
The $83.5 billion is spread out over 65 FMS cases notified to Congress. The number does not represent the total of actual arms sales for the year, just the total amount the State Department has approved. After Congress approves of the sales, negotiations begin, and the final dollar amount is agreed to.
Japan was Washington’s top customer for 2020, with five cases worth an estimated $27.9 billion. This number represents a significant increase in Japan’s military spending and is $20 billion more than Tokyo was approved for in 2019.
The Trump administration has been eager to push through arms sales, despite US arms fueling some of the worst conflicts in the world. A recent report from the Center for International Policy found the US was the top provider of weapons in the Middle East and North Africa from 2015 to 2019 by a wide margin. The study found opposing sides in wars across the region are both armed with US weapons.
The State Department has found itself in hot water over arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The US-backed Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has regularly targeted civilian infrastructure throughout the war. State Department officials from both the Obama and Trump administrations fear arrest overseas for war crimes for facilitating these weapons sales.