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Biden names Pentagon acquisition chief

US President Joe Biden has nominated former US Air Force official William LaPlante to be undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S) at the US Department of Defense (DoD), the White House announced on 30 November.

If confirmed by the Senate, LaPlante would replace Trump administration appointee Ellen Lord, who stepped down in January. Biden nominated Michael Brown, director of the DoD's Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), for the A&S post in April, but Brown withdrew from consideration in July.

Gregory Kausner, a career member of the Senior Executive Service, has been performing the duties of the A&S undersecretary.

LaPlante has been president and CEO of US engineering non-profit Draper Laboratory since October 2020. He was previously senior vice-president and general manager of the National Security sector at US research and development non-profit MITRE. During the Obama administration, he was assistant secretary of the air force for acquisition, technology, and logistics from 2014 to 2017.

LaPlante “is a seasoned national security leader with nearly four decades of experience in acquisition, technology, sustainment, and the defence industrial base”, the White House said. The White House credited him with having “forged a path forward on critical air force acquisition programmes such as the B-21 long-range strike bomber”.

LaPlante, a board member for the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), “has a great background and understanding of the industry” and would “take A&S to remarkable heights”, according to NDIA president and CEO Hawk Carlisle.

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