When items in the Department of Defense (DoD) inventory are no longer needed by any military service, after being vetted through other government agencies (depending on the nature of the item), they can be declared as excess equipment or Excess Defense Articles (EDA). Transferring these articles to foreign partners can be a cost-effective way to divest such items while also helping meet U.S. military and State Department goals to build capacity, capability, and relationships with partner nations. Typically used for modernization of partner forces or to assist Latin American and Caribbean nations in their counternarcotics programs, EDA is provided to partner nations at reduced prices (based on the condition of the equipment) or as a grant transfer. EDA is one of a number of authorities and programs DoD uses to facilitate the transfer or disposition of equipment to friendly international partners to further U.S. national security and foreign policy goals.
Not all EDA are overseas; the majority will be in depots located in the continental United States, along with a few in Europe and one in Asia.
EDA is defined in Section 644(g) of the Foreign Assistance Act as “… the quantity of defense articles (other than construction equipment, including tractors, scrapers, loaders, graders, bulldozers, dump trucks, generators and compressors) owned by the U.S. government and not procured in anticipation of military assistance or sales requirements or pursuant to a military assistance or sales order, which is in excess of the Approved Force Acquisition Objective and Approved Force Retention Stock of all DoD components at the time such articles are dropped from inventory by the supplying agency for delivery to countries or international organizations under this Act.” As with all transfers of defense articles and services, the Secretary of State approves all EDA transfers.
Each individual military service identifies items as excess in its own inventory and is responsible for checking with the rest of DoD and other government agencies to see if there are other potential claimants. If there are no requirements found during this screening, then the items may become available as EDA. Meanwhile, the Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCCs) identify possible international recipients to the military departments.
EDA grants and sales are authorized under Section 516 of the Foreign Assistance Act and Section 21 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), respectively. Section 516 covers the overall process regardless of the authority used and, specifically, EDA grants on both lethal and non-lethal articles to countries justified to Congress for the fiscal year in which the transfer is authorized. The AECA covers EDA sales (not all nations are eligible for grants), at prices typically between 5 percent and 50 percent of the original acquisition value, based on age and condition of the items.
One of the most immutable rules of EDA is that such items are offered “as is/where is.” The partner nation is encouraged to conduct a joint visual inspection before finally accepting EDA.
“There is the potential for more equipment to become available in the future as a result of military downsizing; it has happened before, when we downsized in Europe in the early 1990s,” DSCA Security Assistance Program Analyst Susan Kidd said. “But because of rules and requirements in the disposition manual, that equipment will only be available for a period of time, if it can be transferred as EDA. If it doesn’t find a home in another U.S. government agency or a partner nation, it will be destroyed because that is more cost effective than continuing to store it.”
One of the most immutable rules of EDA is that such items are offered “as is/where is.” The partner nation is encouraged to conduct a joint visual inspection before finally accepting EDA. Once title transfers, the recipient must prepare the EDA, including packing, crating, handling, and transportation (PCH&T); moving it from wherever it is located; making any necessary repairs/refurbishments; and sustaining it once it is in their possession.
Not all EDA are overseas; the majority will be in depots located in the continental United States, along with a few in Europe and one in Asia. EDA would only be overseas when in consolidated depot repair yards or where items are taken in-country as U.S. forces are leaving. In such cases, the host nation gets no preferential treatment with respect to EDA – unless Congress passes special legislation authorizing direct transfers in-country.
Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Disposition Services maintains a website that provides registered partner nation users the ability to view and submit requests for EDA. The inventory is dynamic based on availability from equipment that all of the military services turn in through the DLA process. There is no list maintained within DoD of all the items each service has in excess at any time. When a partner country submits a request for an item, the individual service will determine whether an item is excess or may become excess in time to meet the need. When the service identifies additional EDA, they will conduct a due diligence inquiry with other agencies, by sending out a survey message to the U.S. Embassy Security Cooperation Officers (SCOs). The messages are given wide dissemination, depending on the type of equipment that is available. For example, SCOs in countries that are limited to eligibility for non-lethal EDA, would not be on the survey list for lethal items, such as howitzers.
The 1993 DoD Appropriations Bill required DSCA to create a publicly accessible clearinghouse for information concerning EDA transfers. Originally an electronic, dial-in bulletin board, it is now an on-line database (www.dsca.mil/sites/default/files/EDA_053013c.xlsx) of approved EDA transfers and their status. It does not list items available as EDA, only those for which a Letter of Request (LOR) has been received from a partner nation, vetted and approved.