The Pentagon currently has 85 major acquisition programs in various stages of the acquisition process. This portfolio of weapons is a mix of new programs and upgraded versions of existing ones. In 2022 alone, the American people will pay approximately $246 billion to research, develop, test, and acquire everything from aircraft carriers to handheld radios. Most of these programs are behind schedule and far over budget. In a June 2020 report, the Government Accountability Office found that the Pentagon’s weapons programs are on average 54% more expensive and more than 2 years late.
The person with the power of the pen at the end of the acquisition process — the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment — should understand the process and the defense industry, but it is crucial that they also have a demonstrated track record of independence. If a program in development is failing to meet the needs of the services, the top acquisition official needs to have the integrity to say so and cut our losses. Unfortunately, the next Pentagon acquisition official will likely not be the independent actor the warfighters and the American people deserve.
Backing failing programs
The Acquisition and Sustainment office within the Department of Defense has the mission to “enable the delivery and sustainment of secure and resilient capabilities to the warfighter and international partners quickly and cost effectively.” That statement is somewhat undermined by the strategies listed on its website, where the second goal to “build a safe, secure, and resilient Defense Industrial Base (commercial and organic)” ranks above the fourth goal to “increase weapon system mission capability while reducing operating cost.”
Rather than choosing a nominee with a history of independence, the Biden administration recently nominated a consummate defense industry insider to be the Pentagon’s acquisition head. William LaPlante, President Biden’s nominee to be the next Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, has a long history that shows he is inextricably linked with the defense industry and has actively worked to further its interests.
LaPlante previously served as the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics during President Barack Obama’s second term. During LaPlante’s tenure, he shepherded high-profile programs like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial tanker as they struggled through their troubled development phases. Even as evidence mounted that both programs were failing to live up to performance expectations and were still years away from being completed, LaPlante unfailingly sung their praises in public.
“Boeing and the flight team are actually doing a good job right now, they are getting more flight hours in a week than we expected, which is what you would hope,” LaPlante said during his final Pentagon briefing before returning to the private sector in 2015. “I feel pretty good about KC-46.”
Even as evidence mounted that both programs were failing to live up to performance expectations and were still years away from being completed, LaPlante unfailingly sung their praises in public.
Six years later, the KC-46 still hasn’t entered full service. In fact, Air Force leaders are already looking beyond the program to a future “bridge tanker” program to make up for the KC-46’s shortcomings, including its deeply flawed remote vision system and a too-rigid refueling boom that can damage aircraft taking on gas.
For the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the department’s most expensive program, costs have more than doubled from the original estimates and the program is more than 8 years behind schedule. The program is expected in the coming years to limp to the finish line of the various testing and review procedures necessary before a full rate production decision can be made.
LaPlante also oversaw the selection process for the Air Force’s next-generation bomber, the future B-21 Raider. He is on record saying the development costs for the new bomber would be made public before the contract was awarded — a bit of transparency advocated by then Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Senator John McCain (R-AZ), POGO, and others. But Air Force leaders immediately refused to release the figure, citing security concerns with the dubious claim that potential adversaries could figure out some of the technologies being incorporated into the design. The same leaders had no qualms about publicly announcing where components of the new aircraft would be built or by whom.
Ties to the defense industry
Unlike many previous acquisition officials, LaPlante would not come to this position straight from the upper ranks of a major defense contractor. The last four Senate-confirmed Under Secretaries of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment all worked in the defense industry. Former acquisition head Ellen Lord was an executive with Textron, Frank Kendall was a corporate vice president of Raytheon, Ash Carter worked as a consultant for numerous defense contractors, and John Young worked for Lockheed Martin and Rockwell International.
Still, LaPlante’s links to the defense industry run deep. Outside of his government work, he has spent the bulk of his career in the research community for firms with large government and military contracts. After earning a PhD in mechanical engineering, he began his career at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, a facility that receives more than $1 billion in government contracts each year. LaPlante eventually became the head of their Strategic Systems Department.
After his previous stint in the Pentagon, the MITRE Corporation appointed LaPlante as a senior vice president for its National Sector, where he ran federally funded research and development projects for the Department of Defense. MITRE received approximately $7.6 billion in government contracts during his tenure.
LaPlante left MITRE to become the president and CEO of Draper Laboratory in October 2020. Draper is an engineering research facility based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that receives government contracts for aerospace and defense projects. LaPlante took over the laboratory after the previous CEO was suddenly replaced without explanation by an interim leader in early 2020.
Outside of his government work, he has spent the bulk of his career in the research community for firms with large government and military contracts.
An explanation did come in November 2021 when the not-for-profit Draper Laboratory paid nearly $3.5 million to settle allegations that they overcharged the U.S. Navy for projects dubbed “opportunity investments” back in 2016. The Justice Department said the laboratory had used Navy money for projects that were not of interest to the government or could not be backed up with documentation to justify the costs.
LaPlante has also bolstered his national security credentials by serving as a member of numerous defense industry commissions and boards. He is a long-time member of the Defense Science Board, as well as a board member of the National Defense Industrial Association — a defense industry trade organization that lobbies for more spending and weaker acquisition oversight. The Aerospace Corporation, a federally funded research and development center focusing on space engineering that received more than $1 million in government contracts in 2020, elected LaPlante to its board of trustees in September 2021.
He also served on the Section 809 Panel, the congressionally mandated blue-ribbon commission of experts from government and the defense industry created in 2016 and tasked with crafting recommendations to streamline the weapons-buying process. The panel drew up 98 recommended changes to the acquisition process. Several provisions would have reduced transparency and competitiveness.
“It was basically a cheerleading effort for the defense industry feebly masquerading as a serious report,” said Richard Loeb, adjunct professor of government contract law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. He characterized the panel’s recommendations as “an industry wish list” and went on to say that anyone who contributed to the panel’s efforts deserves additional scrutiny during the confirmation process.
William LaPlante is as well-connected inside the defense community as a person can be.
In just one example of the panel’s proclivities, the panel wanted to water down the definition of a commercial item, which makes it much harder for the government to track the fairness of costs or to obtain the data rights for the items purchased. Government ownership of the data rights is an important issue because without controlling the technical data of a weapon, only the original manufacturer can perform a large portion of the maintenance. The services are then left in a position where they have no choice but to issue sole-source sustainment contracts, which are often very expensive.
LaPlante not only helped craft the 809 Panel’s recommendations, but was a public face of the endeavor. He was one of the members sent to testify before Congress to sell those recommendations.
William LaPlante is as well-connected inside the defense community as a person can be. His track record is that of someone unlikely to make waves inside the Pentagon. An official serving in the position of Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment needs to know more than how to speed up the acquisition cycle and coddle the defense industry. This public servant needs to understand how the weapons and vehicles under development actually work in the hands of service members in the field. The ideal acquisition head for the Pentagon would understand that the best way to get the right tools to the troops is to pursue simpler designs, rather than using bureaucratic trickery to sneak industry-favored wonder weapons around testing requirements and oversight measures. This official also needs to have the moral courage to resist pressure from industry insiders to rush underperforming programs into production, and to be prepared to cancel programs when it becomes clear they are beyond redemption.
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee should carefully consider whether LaPlante has the independence required to make the difficult decisions this office will require, or if he will be the rubber stamp for the defense industry that his background suggests.
Dan Grazier is the Jack Shanahan Military Fellow at the Center for Defense Information at POGO.
San Diego, CA — MAY 28: U.S. Marine Corps Huey and Cobra Helicopters sit onboard the USS Peleliu as they begin workup manuevers for their upcoming deployment (Grindstone Media Group / Shutterstock.com).
Left-to-right: Senator-elect Ted Budd (R-N.C.); Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Minority Leader; Senator-elect Katie Britt (R-AL); and Senator-elect J.D. Vance (R-OH) pose for a photo before meeting in Leader McConnell’s office, at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, November 15, 2022. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)
The so-called GOP “civil war” over the role the United States should play in the world made headlines earlier this week when the Senate finally passed a national security supplemental that provides $60 billion in aid for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel.
The legislation, which was supported by President Joe Biden and the overwhelming majority of the Senate’s Democratic caucus, proved more controversial among Republicans. Twenty-two GOP Senators voted in favor of the legislation, while 27 opposed it.
An analysis of the votes shows an interesting generational divide within the Republican caucus.
Each of the five oldest Republicans in the Senate — and nine of the ten oldest — voted in favor of the supplemental spending package. Conversely, the six youngest senators, and 12 of the 14 youngest, opposed it.
Equally striking was the breakdown of votes among Republicans based on when they assumed their current office. Of the 49 sitting GOP Senators, 30 were elected before Donald Trump first became the party’s presidential candidate in 2016. Eighteen of those 30 supported the aid legislation. Of the members who came to office in 2017 or later, only four voted to advance the bill, while 15 voted against.
The difference in votes among those elected since 2016 is likely partly attributable to Trump’s unconventional approach to foreign policy. The Republican party establishment during the Cold War and Global War on Terror is often associated with hawkishness, including towards Russia. While the party has always carried some skepticism toward foreign aid, some of the most significant spending increases have taken place during the presidencies of Republicans Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
Trump, however, won in 2016 in part for his open disdain for mission creep after the GWOT, what he called the failed war in Iraq, and foreign aid he believed made countries dependents rather than reciprocal partners and allies.
“[Trump] certainly created the cognitive space,” Brandan Buck, a U.S. Army veteran and historian of GOP foreign policy, tells RS. “He's more of an intuitive thinker than a person of principle, but I think him being on the scene, prying open the Overton window has allowed for a greater array of dissenting voices.”
Others have argued that the trends are perhaps also indicative of the loyalty that Republicans who assumed their offices during the Trump presidency feel toward him. Trump spoke out forcefully against the legislation in advance of the vote.
“WE SHOULD NEVER GIVE MONEY ANYMORE WITHOUT THE HOPE OF A PAYBACK, OR WITHOUT “STRINGS” ATTACHED. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA SHOULD BE “STUPID” NO LONGER!,” the former president wrote on the social media platform Truth Social the weekend before the vote.
The vote cannot only be explained by ideology, as some typically hawkish allies of Trump, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) ultimately voted against the package. Graham is a staunch supporter of Israel, has voted for previous Ukraine aid packages, and in the past called aid for Ukraine “a good investment” and “the best money we’ve ever spent.” By the time the vote on the most recent spending package came around, Graham was lamenting the lack of border security provisions and echoing Trump’s argument that aid to Ukraine should be a “loan.”
Meanwhile, Senators took note of the generational gap, and the debate spilled over into the public. .
“Nearly every Republican Senator under the age of 55 voted NO on this America Last bill,” wrote Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), 48, on the social media platform X. “Things are changing just not fast enough.” Schmitt was elected in 2022.
“Youthful naivety is bliss, the wisdom of age may save the west,” retorted Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) “Reagan may be dead, but his doctrine saved the world during less dangerous times than these. If the modern Marx (Putin for the youngsters) restores the USSR while we pretend it’s not our problem, God help us.” Cramer, 63, was sworn in in 2019, making him one of the handful of recently elected senators to support the aid legislation.
“I like Kevin, but come on, man, have some self-awareness,” Sen. J.D. Vance fired back. “This moment calls out for many things, but boomer neoconservatism is not among them.”
Vance, who at 39 is the youngest Republican member of the Senate, noted in his post that “the fruits of this generation in American leadership is: quagmire in Afghanistan, war in Iraq under false pretenses.” He said younger Americans were disillusioned with that track record.
Buck, who served several tours in the Afghanistan war, and whose research includes generational trends in U.S. foreign policy thinking, pointed out that there is strong historical precedent for believing that age and generation affect how members of Congress view America’s role in the world.
“It's certainly not unusual for there to be generational trends in foreign policy thinking, especially within the Republican Party,” Buck told RS. Following the end of World War II, he said, it took “a full churning” of the conservative movement to replace old-school non-interventionist Republicans and to get the party in line with the Cold War consensus. “I think what we're seeing now is something similar but in reverse with a generation of conservatives.”
He added that the failures of the War on Terror resulted in a deep skepticism of the national security state and the Republican party establishment. Opinion polling and trends show that the American public that grew up either during or in the shadow of the disastrous military campaigns in the Greater Middle East is generally opposed to military intervention and more questioning of American institutions.
“All the energy on FP [foreign policy] in the GOP right now is with the younger generation that wants fundamental transformation of USFP [U.S. foreign policy],” noted Justin Logan, director of defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, on X. “The self-satisfied, insular neocons who loathe their voters’ FP views are a dying breed.”
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Egyptian President Anwar Sadat shakes hands with U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in September 1978. (Public Domain photo courtesy of Carter Library)
Since October, Egypt has joined most of the international community in calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. With Egypt being the only Arab country to border Gaza, Cairo’s stakes are high. The longer Israel’s war on the besieged enclave continues, the threats to Egypt’s economy, national security, and political stability will become more serious.
Located along the Gaza-Egypt border is Rafah, a 25-square-mile city that until recently was home to 300,000 Palestinians. Now approximately 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah because of the Israeli military’s wanton destruction of Gaza City, Khan Younis, and other parts of the Strip. Having asserted that four Hamas battalions are now in Rafah, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that deploying Israeli forces to this Palestinian city is necessary for his country to defeat Hamas amid this war. As of writing, Israel’s military is preparing to launch a campaign for Rafah.
Officials in Cairo fear that Israeli military operations in Rafah could result in a large number of Palestinians entering the Sinai. “An Israeli offensive on Rafah would lead to an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe and grave tensions with Egypt,” said European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on February 10.
Not only could such a scenario fuel massive amounts of friction between Cairo and Tel Aviv, but it could also severely heighten tensions between the Egyptian public and President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi’s government. It’s easy to imagine a mass expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which would amount to essentially a “Nakba 2.0,” triggering widespread unrest in Egypt if the government in Cairo is widely seen by Egyptians as playing a role in permitting, if not facilitating, such an ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Gaza. Along with economic considerations, this is one of the main reasons why Cairo has articulated that Israel depopulating Gaza of Palestinians and forcing them into Egypt is a red line that Tel Aviv must not cross.
“The biggest concern for Cairo is related to the fate of the [Palestinians in Gaza] forcibly evacuated by the Israelis and who might find a ‘safe haven’ in Sinai. An uncontrolled influx of Palestinians into the [Sinai] Peninsula would be an enormous burden on Egypt, which would have to manage a problematic situation from a political and security point of view, as well as having to justify internally to its own public opinion an imposition that came from outside,” Giuseppe Dentice, head of the Middle East and North Africa Desk at the Italian Center for International Studies, told RS.
“It is no coincidence that Cairo has reinforced the border with Gaza, closed the Rafah crossing, and warned Israel that any unilateral action involving a forced exodus of the Strip’s inhabitants to Egyptian territory could jeopardize not only bilateral relations, but the preconditions for peace and stability guaranteed in the [Camp David Accords],” added Dentice.
On February 15, Maxar Technologies, a Colorado-headquartered space technology company, captured satellite images showing Egypt’s construction of a wall roughly two miles west of the Egypt-Gaza border. The following day, the London-based Sinai Foundation for Human Rights said that this construction “is intended to create a high-security gated and isolated area near the borders with the Gaza Strip, in preparation for the reception of Palestinian refugees in the case of [a] mass exodus.”
What might happen to the Camp David Accords?
On February 11, two Egyptian officials and one Western diplomat told the Associated Press that Cairo might suspend the 1979 Camp David Accords if Israeli troops wage an incursion into Rafah. A day later, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry denied such reports about his government’s plans to freeze the peace treaty with Israel, yet he emphasized that Egypt’s continued adherence to the 1979 deal would depend on Tel Aviv reciprocating.
Alarming to Egyptian officials were Netanyahu’s statements late last year about the Israeli military taking control of the Philadelphi Corridor (a nine-mile-long demilitarized buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt which was established in accordance with Egypt and Israel’s peace treaty) because such a move on Israel’s part would be a breach of the Camp David Accords.
Are Egyptian officials serious about possibly freezing the historic peace deal? Or does such talk amount to empty threats issued for political purposes at home, as well as pursuing certain Egyptian aims vis-à-vis Washington and Tel Aviv? Mouin Rabbani, a political analyst and co-editor of Jadaliyya, told RS that if these statements from anonymous Egyptian officials are geared toward a domestic audience but Cairo doesn’t follow through, Sisi’s government could have a “potentially serious problem on its hands.”
Ahmed Aboudouh, an associate fellow with the Chatham House and a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council, doubts that Egypt would go as far as suspending the Camp David Accords. “In the end, Egypt is unlikely to take the first step to tear the treaty up unilaterally,” he said.
But what Egypt is doing is embracing “discursive strategic posturing” whereby Cairo uses “rhetorical escalation” and directs messages at three audiences, Aboudouh told RS. First is the domestic audience to say that Cairo is standing up for Egypt’s core security interests as well as the Palestinian cause. The second is Washington to relay the Egyptian government’s anger at the Biden administration for not stopping Israeli actions that threaten to displace Palestinians into the Sinai. Third is to Netanyahu, generals in the Israeli Defense Forces, and the Israeli intelligence community.
Gordon Gray, a former U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, also discounts recent suggestions that Cairo would suspend its peace treaty with Israel for three main reasons. “First, Egypt does not seek military confrontation — even an inadvertent one — with Israel. Second, Egypt does not want to risk losing U.S. military assistance ($1.3 billion annually), which was granted as a direct result of the Camp David Accords. Finally, while Egypt abhors the Israeli military campaign in Gaza, it shares Israel’s views about the threat Hamas poses,” said Gray in an interview with RS.
What would come from Egypt freezing the treaty?
Despite many experts believing that Egypt would not freeze the Camp David Accords, that potential scenario should be considered. There are important questions to raise about what it could lead to in terms of region-wide ramifications, as well as Cairo’s relationships with Western capitals. But it’s difficult to predict how events would unfold if Egypt took that step because there would be so many unknown variables in play.
Egypt could act in different ways after suspending the peace treaty with Israel. Rabbani asked, “Would it simply declare the peace treaty suspended and leave it at that or would it stop implementing provisions of that treaty?”
Regardless, any freezing of the Camp David Accords by Egypt would inevitably bring a layer of instability to Egyptian-Israeli relations never seen since Jimmy Carter’s administration, which — with help from Iran, Morocco, and Romania — brought Egypt’s then-President Anwar Sadat and Israel’s then-Prime Minister Menachim Begin together in northern Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains to sign the peace treaty in September 1978. The response from Washington would likely be extreme, particularly given how central Egyptian-Israeli peace has been to U.S. foreign policy agendas in the Middle East for almost half a century while surviving a host of regional crises, including Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and all the previous Gaza wars.
“The U.S. is certain to act true to form and retaliate against Egypt without holding Israel in any way accountable for producing this crisis, and Washington may well cease foreign assistance to Egypt, which is a direct function of its peace treaty with Israel. The EU will probably announce it is launching an investigation of the Egyptian school curriculum or some other nonsensical initiative,” Rabbani told RS.
Irrespective of how Egypt approaches its relationship with Israel, the fact that officials in Cairo are suggesting a potential freeze of the Camp David Accords speaks volumes about the Gaza war’s impact on Israel’s diplomatic standing in the Arab world.
With the probability of more Arab countries joining the Abraham Accords in the foreseeable future having essentially dropped to zero, the pressing question is not which Arab government might be next to normalize with Tel Aviv. The focus has shifted to questions about how Arab countries already in the normalization camp, such as Egypt, will manage their formalized relationships with Israel at a time in which Israeli behavior in Gaza is widely seen across the Arab-Islamic world as genocidal.
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Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at the Munich Security Conference, Feb. 17, 2024. (David Hecker/MSC)
MUNICH, GERMANY — If U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris dominated the first day of the Munich Security Conference with her remarks, today it was German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s turn.
It was not only Zelensky who understandably devoted his whole speech to the Ukraine War but also Scholz, too. The German Chancellor, while boasting that his country will devote 2% of its GDP to defense expenditures this year, remarked that “we Europeans need to do much more for our security now and in the future.”
In a brief but clear reference to Trump’s recent statements on NATO, Scholz said, "any relativization of NATO’s mutual defense guarantee will only benefit those who, just like Putin, want to weaken us.” On the guns and butter debate, which is particularly relevant in Germany due to negligible economic growth, Scholz acknowledged that critical voices are saying, “should not we be using the money for other things?” But he chose not to engage in this debate, noting instead that “Moscow is fanning the flames of such doubts with targeted disinformation campaigns and with propaganda on social media.”
The Russian capture of the city represents the most significant defeat for Ukraine since the failure of its counter-offensive last year. On the loss of Avdiivka, Zelensky said that Ukraine had lost one soldier for every seven soldiers who have died on the Russian side. This, however, is difficult to reconcile with the reports about the rushed Ukrainian retreat, with a Ukrainian soldier explaining that “the road to Avdiivka is littered with our corpses.”
Throughout his speech, Zelensky repeatedly referred to the importance of defending what he called the “rules-based world order” by defeating Russia. If there was one take-away that Zelensky wanted impressed on this audience: “Please do not ask Ukraine when the war will end. Ask yourself why is Putin still able to continue it.”
He also seemed to suggest that it was not a lack of available weapons and artillery but a willingness to give them over to Ukraine. “Dear friends, unfortunately keeping Ukraine in the artificial deficit of weapons, particularly in deficit of artillery and long-range capabilities, allows Putin to adapt to the current intensity of the war,” Zelenskyy said. “The self-weakening of democracy over time undermines our joint results.”
The future of NATO was one of the main topics of the day. European leaders were in agreement that Europe needs to spend more on defense, and occasionally appeared to compete with each other on who has spent the most on weapons delivered to Ukraine or in their national defense budgets.
With NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in attendance, one of the panels featured two of the most talked-about names to replace the Norwegian politician in the 75th-anniversary summit in Washington in July: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. According to a report by the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, President Joseph Biden and his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken favor the German leader, but in Paris, London, and Berlin, the Dutch politician is preferred.
The participation of the Netherlands in the initial U.S.-UK joint strikes against Houthi positions in Yemen on Jan. 11 was read in some quarters as a sign of Rutte’s ambitions. The Netherlands was the only EU country to join these initial attacks.
A G7 meeting of foreign ministers also took place Saturday on the sidelines of the conference. In a press briefing that followed, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani — who currently presides the G7 — reiterated the group’s support for Ukraine. The current situation in the Red Sea, as is often the case in the West, was presented by Tajani as a topic divorced from the Gaza Strip. The Houthis started their campaign against ships in the Red Sea after the beginning of the war in Gaza, claiming they want to force an end to the conflict.
There is no certainty that the end of the war in Gaza would put an end to Houthi attacks, but presenting the situation in the Red Sea as being nothing but a threat to freedom of trade is considered by experts to be a a myopic approach.
Nevertheless, Italy will be in command of the new EU naval mission ASPIDES, to be deployed soon in the Red Sea. The mission is expected to be approved by the next meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers on Monday. When asked whether he could ensure that ASPIDES would remain a defensive mission, the Italian Foreign Minister said ASPIDES aims at defending merchant ships and that if drones or missiles are launched, they will be shot down, but no attacks will be conducted.
Marc Martorell Junyent is in Munich, covering the conference for Responsible Statecraft this weekend. This story is developing and is being updated.