Defense News reports that the Libyan government is reaching out to American companies in a bid to attract them to a nation that is still taboo to many US politicians.
Col. Ibrahim El Fortia, the defense attaché from the Libyan Embassy in Washington, said the country wants to work with American companies, partially because of the US role in helping to topple the Gaddafi regime.
Speaking at an American Chamber of Commerce in Libya event, he added:
“We would like to see priority go to the American companies ... I was a deputy defense minister in 2011. There were a lot of defense companies coming from all over the world giving their offers to the Libyan government and the defense ministry. We were sorry not to see the American companies coming at that time.”
Some companies, particularly those based in Europe, have been aggressive on the Libyan market, but US companies are not only navigating complex laws but also an ongoing stigma due to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead.
Thus far there have been only 15 letters of request from the Libyan government for foreign military sales. Those have led to a deal for 287 AM General Humvees, with 24 shipped, 30 due by the end of the month and the rest due by the end of 2014. Lockheed Martin C-130 cargo planes and Boeing CH-47 helicopters have also been discussed. There was discussion of a deal for fast-response cutters that fell through.
The US is offering only limited financial support, in the form of $1 million in foreign military financing and $15 million from the joint State Department/DoD Global Security Contingency fund.
Mary Beth Long, CEO of Askari Defense and former assistant secretary of defense, commented:
“One of the questions from a congressional standpoint is how much is available from [foreign military financing] ... There is the sentiment on the Hill that, post-conflict, that Libya has such tremendous natural resources, mostly its talented people, but also access to gas and oil, that there will be very few funds from the US government programs.”
Part of the reason for the limited sales has been general government reticence to sell equipment to an unstable government. Defense News previously reported on disagreements between the Defense and State departments on deals with the country.
But the pace of sales may soon pick up, with the US helping to train 10,000 Libyans for the military at a cost of about $600 million over eight years.
(Source: Defense News)