17 Jul 06. David Richardson of DESO replied to our piece, ‘AUSA –THE PARTY’S OVER.’
‘A colleague has just drawn to my attention your Battlespace update Vol 8 Issue 26, in which you report on planned DESO activity at this year’s AUSA exhibition in Washington, and, more generally on our approach to the US market. As your piece contains one or two inaccuracies, I hope you won’t mind if I seek to correct them.
As you say, the US is the second most valuable export market for the UK defence industry. It is for this reason that I have four US-focused staff in my London team, and why no less than five US-based colleagues give support to UK defence companies in the US market. With a significant turnover of staff both in the US and UK offices over the past year, my opposite number in Washington (Andrew Radcliffe) and I have initiated a review of DESO’s approach to the US market in order to target our support in a more focused manner. In addition to the services we already provide, this is likely to lead to our efforts being increased in discrete market areas where we think that the UK has products and services to offer which are likely to be successful against the domestic US competition. But whatever adjustments we make, DESO support will continue to be available to both large and small companies alike. In short, no other market has anything approaching the same level of DESO support, so your suggestion that we view the US as a ‘non-core’ area is wide of the mark I’m afraid.
But it is not axiomatic that strong DESO support for the market requires a substantial (and expensive) stand at AUSA. We have long questioned its value and have decided this year to modify our approach and to share the DMA stand, in much the same way we did very effectively at Eurosatory. There will, nevertheless, be a number of UK Armed Forces personnel, in uniform, in the DESO/DMA area, and available for use by individual exhibiting companies if they wish. On the UK reception, we recognise the success of past events in the Ambassador’s Residence, which offers a highly attractive setting and draws large numbers of senior and influential US visitors. This year, however, other commitments precluded the use of the Residence. We concluded, therefore, that a less attractive venue was unlikely to attract the same level of visitor – especially on a night crowded with other events. I very much hope that in future years we may be able to use the Residence again.
Savings on AUSA expenditure will I hope enable us to look at other opportunities in the US and obtain greater overall value by supporting industry at smaller and more targeted events. In the main, such events are likely to benefit SMEs rather than the larger companies, so contrary to what your piece suggests, we are not focused solely on platform opportunities. In addition, we are considering using our resources to provide visit programmes for targeted influential visitors from the US to come to the UK. In these circumstances, we can focus on those officials who are directly involved in procurements where there is a real chance of success for UK companies. ‘