Warning arms trade at work this is not OK tape in front of an office door near Westminster

Government arms promotion unit

The UK government has its own export promotion unit. UK Defence & Security exports is a government body that uses public money to help the arms and security industries sell their products around the world.

Last updated: 27/07/2020

UK Defence and Security Exports

UK Defence and Security Exports (UKDSE) is a UK government body that exists to help the arms and security industries sell their products around the world.

It does this by:

  • coordinating government support, with access to the highest levels of government and the military
  • inviting military delegations to UK arms fairs
  • arranging UK delegations and/or exhibiting at overseas arms fairs (see UKDSE’s exhibition calendar)
  • using the UK armed forces to demonstrate and sell weaponry for companies
  • identifying Key Markets for sales campaigns
  • implementing export campaigns for specific equipment

UKDSE is not interested in the human impact of the equipment it promotes. It exists purely to help the companies sell.

DSO's Senior Military Advisor walking through Aero India 2017 with UK Defence Minister
Senior Military Advisor, Nigel Maddox, (right) at Aero India 2017 with UK Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin (Photo by British High Commission, New DelhiCC BY-NC-ND, cropped)

Staff and military support

UKDSE has a staff of around 110 including 18 military staff in its Export Support Team.

The Export Support Team is staffed by regular officers and soldiers and is a “unique and intrinsic part” of the organisation. This military team:

  • provides impartial military advice
  • assists with promotional material
  • gives demonstrations
  • hosts visits of foreign delegations
  • provides after sales training and support.

Royal Navy warships are also used by UKDSE to host Defence and Security Industry Days, where arms companies can display their products. These take place from Algeria to the UAEColombia and Singapore.

Promoting arms sales since 1966

A government department devoted to promoting arms sales has existed since 1966. From DSO to DESO, UKTI DSO to DSO, behind the various obscure acronyms these bodies have been at the heart of the government’s support for the arms trade.

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