U.S. Department of Defense

05/16/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/16/2024 15:42

Pentagon Official: Partnerships Key to Bolstering Defense Industry, Meeting Warfighting Needs

The Defense Department remains focused on working with allies to build robust defense production capabilities, the Pentagon's top acquisition official said yesterday.

William A. LaPlante
William A. LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, briefs the media in the Pentagon Press Briefing Room, the Pentagon, Sept. 9, 2022.
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Photo By:Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Kubitza
VIRIN:220909-D-PM193-3159Y

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee, William A. LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said the war in Ukraine has underscored the value of countries working together to produce key munitions.

He noted DOD's work with European allies to co-produce 155 mm artillery shells - a capability that remains in high demand on the front lines of Ukraine.

The U.S., he said, is beginning to apply those lessons to other weapons systems as a key strategy to deter conflict across the globe. The Army plans to begin co-producing on Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System and Precision Strike Missile munitions with key allies. The U.S. will also soon partner with Japan of the development and production on the next generation of missile defense interceptors.

Cargo Loader
An airman attached to the Air Force's 436th Aerial Port Squadron maneuvers a cargo loader during a security assistance mission at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Jan. 13, 2023.
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Photo By:Air Force Airman 1st Class Amanda Jett
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"That's where this is all headed," LaPlante said. "You're going to see much more co-production, co-development and co-sustainment with allies and partners."

The trend is driven in part by a recognition among allies of the need to shore up their defense industrial bases.

"Allies and partners are recognizing - in Europe and in [the] Indo-Pacific - that they need an industrial base, basically restart," LaPlante said. "For all of the criticism that we give ourselves, rightfully so, they're envious of what the United States has been able to do. We're talking to each of these countries."

This recognition comes as Russia and other potential adversaries dramatically increase their weapons output.

"We're all monitoring, both in open source and other places, what is Russia doing [with] its industrial base," LaPlante said. "We saw that Putin just replaced his minister of defense with an economist. I think a lot of us have taken away that this is not - they're not in it for the short term."

He said estimates now place Russia's military spending at 7% of their gross domestic product, a substantial increase over previous years.

"They're on a wartime footing," he said.

Analysts have also noted a steep rise in China's military output in recent years, emphasizing the Chinese Communist Party's military-civil fusion development strategy under its aim of building an advanced military capable of projecting power globally.

Defense officials have long recognized the critical role defense acquisition and sustainment plays in deterring conflict.

LaPlante said yesterday that the Defense Department has focused on effectively capturing the most pressing needs of the warfighter and improving its ability to rapidly field key capabilities through acquisition pathways that aim to reduce bureaucracy.

Artillery
A Marine assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, prepares to load an M777 towed 155 mm howitzer during exercise Rolling Thunder on Fort Liberty, N.C., Oct. 16, 2023.
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Photo By:Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Grace Stover
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He also underscored the need to send a steady demand signal to the defense industrial base to ensure the right workforce and production capabilities remain in place to meet warfighter needs.

"When you're talking about acquisition, there's really three legs to the stool," he said. "One leg is acquisition, which is the contract. The second is the requirement, and this is about [...] getting what the department needs right for the warfighter. And the third is having money in the right year.

"Those three legs of the stool - moving across all three in an agile fashion - is the secret of really effective acquisition," he said.