US Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Tunisian Defense Minister Ibrahim Bartagi agreed on a road map for defense cooperation during meetings in the capital city of Tunis October 1 which charts a 10-year course for cooperation between the two countries.
The road map took two years to negotiate, and it is a clear-eyed look at the relationship and suggests ways to close capability gaps (of Tunsia). "We both want to improve [Tunisia's] military capabilities and training to improve [U.S. and Tunisian] interoperability," Secretary Esper was quoted as saying in a DoD release
The 10-year road map is a relatively new program. It allows the nations to begin the planning and funding cycles in such a way as to build incrementally. This may be a blueprint for negotiations with other nations in Africa and elsewhere, the release said.
Tunisia- a ‘Security Exporter’
The road map states that Tunisia is a "security exporter" in the region, participating in many exercises and cooperating with other nations in security matters.
An unnamed official travelling with the Secretary quoted in the DoD release would not speak specifically on what gaps the (African) nations see in their military capabilities, but spoke of gaps that African nations, in general, experience — airlift, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance shortages and the like.
Ed comment: The US is trying to increase arms sales to countries in Africa and the Middle East earlier ignored as they could not afford American weapons deemed expensive compared to Russian and Chinese military products.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) the US agency handing foreign arms sales has created a new "term of sale" which opens the doors to more nations that want to approach the United States about foreign military sales, and that makes the U.S. more competitive in seeking partnerships, the DSCA, Heidi Grant said.
Just last year, DSCA created the "risk assessed payment schedule," or RAPS, term of sale, which offers more nations better opportunities to acquire US military hardware through foreign military sales, Heidi Grant said September 30 in an online discussion during the ComDef 2020 conference, a virtual conference providing insights and perspectives on issues facing the international defense communities.