American Defense International

Profile: American Defense International

1- Name of NGO:

American Defense International

2- Brief & Mission:

American Defense International (ADI) offers a wide range of services encompassing government relations, program conceptualization and implementation, business expansion, and strategic advisory. Notably, recent revelations shed light on ADI’s substantial involvement in lobbying efforts on behalf of the UAE within the United States. This includes actively engaging with members of Congress and senators to advocate for UAE’s interests, advocating for amendments aligned with UAE’s preferences. Additionally, significant financial resources have been directed towards ADI from the UAE. Effectively, ADI functions as a conduit through which the UAE safeguards and advances its military and defense interests within the United States.

3- Bias, Agenda & Motivation:

A more robust military partnership, encompassing heightened security commitments and increased arms sales, can be seen as the pivotal focus of the UAE’s lobbying endeavors. This facet stands out as the area where the UAE’s officially registered foreign agents most overtly engage in attempts to influence the legislative proceedings, as indicated by their disclosed filings. Records reveal that American Defense International, in July 2020, reached out to various stakeholders over a dozen times to address proposed amendments within the NDAA and the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) bill, which were aimed at constraining arms transfers to the UAE. Prominent figures, such as Todd Harmer, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, have officially registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) to represent the Emirati embassy. Harmer’s activities involved advocating for substantial arms sales to the UAE within the U.S. Congress. In return, Harmer received an annual base salary of $180,000 from American Defense International, a lobbying entity acting on behalf of the UAE.

4- Links to Governments/Political Agenda:

Allegations have surfaced indicating that the ADI actively promotes the foreign policy goals of the UAE, given its close alignment with the government’s policies. There are claims that the institution receives full support from the UAE government.

5- Sources of Funding:

Allegations have arisen suggesting that the ADI has received funding from the UAE government.

6- Activities:

The strategy employed by ADI on behalf of the UAE within the White House came into play during a critical juncture. This approach was particularly pronounced when the Biden administration assumed office and committed to reassessing the proposed $23 billion arms deal. Central to the Biden administration’s concerns were matters of cybersecurity, entailing stipulations that the UAE refrain from sharing any U.S. military technology with China and that the arms acquisitions not contribute to interventions in Yemen and Libya. On the day of the review’s announcement, Michael Herson, the President of American Defense International (ADI), engaged in a conversation with a State Department official. The focus of this discussion revolved around the Biden administration’s scrutiny of the UAE’s weapons transfer policy – a pivotal instance exemplifying how ADI operated in support of UAE’s interests within the United States.

7- NGO Leadership:

Van Hipp is Chairman of American Defense International, and Michael Herson is President and Chief Executive Officer of American Defense International.

8- Controversy:

On November 30, a story broke that threatened to upend the arms package vote: the Pentagon had allegedly discovered the UAE was financing the Libya operations of the Wagner Group, a shadowy Russian mercenary organization. The UAE vehemently denied these allegations, and Ambassador Al Otaiba once again became personally involved, writing a letter to the editor of Foreign Policy, which published the story, explaining, “The UAE is not financing and has never financed the Wagner Group as suggested by a recent Foreign Policy story. And a suggestion is really all it is.” American Defense International then shared the Letter to the Editor with elected officials ahead of the arms sales vote. 

9- Contact Details:

10- Classification/Blacklist:

ADI has been labeled as blacklisted because of its associations with UAE governments.

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