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Immediate Release

Readout of Under Secretary of Defense Dr. William LaPlante's Engagements in Brussels, Belgium

Department of Defense Spokesperson Jeff Jurgensen provided the following readout:

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Dr. William LaPlante traveled to Brussels, Belgium October 10-21, 2023, to reaffirm U.S. commitment to security cooperation in the European area of operations and discuss a range of issues of mutual importance with international leaders and partner organizations.  

While in Brussels, Dr. LaPlante participated in the 16th Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG) where he updated ministers and senior defense officials on global efforts aimed at collaboratively solving industrial base and sustainment challenges in support of Ukraine. He also chaired the seventh meeting of National Armaments Directors (NADs) under the auspices of the UDCG that was attended by more than 40 nations, NATO, and the European Union. In addition to updates on efforts to address near-term assistance requirements in key capability areas, the discussion highlighted increasing focus on long-term support to Ukraine. Specifically, NADs are developing a long-term, doctrinal strategy for sustainment that is aligned with NATO standards as well as exploring approaches to aid Ukraine in its efforts to expand the capacity and capability of its domestic industrial base.

During the semi-annual NATO Conference of NADs, Dr. LaPlante discussed key areas for increased collaboration and cooperation, including the forthcoming NATO Defense Production Action Plan and associated efforts to aggregate demand and procurement; standardization of platforms, systems, and munitions to increase interoperability and interchangeability; and progress on specific NATO procurement and modernization programs.

Throughout the trip, Dr. LaPlante conducted bilateral engagements with the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union; U.S. Ambassador to NATO; NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment; European Defence Agency; European External Action Service; and senior armaments officials from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Sweden, Romania, and the Netherlands. These dialogues included updates on various ongoing U.S. and European multinational, regional, and national initiatives related to security assistance for Ukraine, including to expand global ammunition production; opportunities for greater co-development, co-production, and co-sustainment; and efforts enabled by new international agreements, such as the Administrative Arrangement between the United States Department of Defense and the European Defense Agency signed earlier this year.

Additionally, Dr. LaPlante signed a Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA) between the United States and Estonia. Through the SOSA, the United States and Estonia commit intent to support one another's priority delivery requests for procurement of critical national defense resources. The arrangement will enable both the U.S. and Estonia to acquire the industrial resources they need to quickly meet defense requirements, resolve unanticipated disruptions that challenge defense capabilities, and promote supply chain resiliency.

"I was pleased to visit with allies and partners from Europe and beyond as we collectively work to ensure peace and stability throughout the region and across the world," LaPlante said. "The discussions over the last two weeks touched on the breadth and depth of armaments cooperation, global industrial base resilience, and priority procurement initiatives. We are more successful in achieving our security objectives when we work hand in hand with our allies and partners, and I look forward to driving action on the items discussed."