sAs Washington responds to wars in Ukraine and Israel — and a potential invasion of Taiwan — POLITICO’s Defense Summit will delve into how the Biden administration plans to arm all three, while also restocking the shelves at home.
The summit, hosted in Washington, D.C., starts today at noon Eastern time and will be streamed live.
The conference gets underway with a conversation with Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.), as his colleagues weigh his proposal to skirt Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s blanket holds on military nominees.
After that, senior Pentagon officials, lawmakers, top defense executives and outside experts will dig into the major national defense policy questions facing Washington.
Here are five things to watch at the summit.
Defense and dysfunction: When Reed sits down with POLITICO for an in-depth discussion, he’ll speak to the impact of the Alabama senator’s holds on national security, and efforts to resolve them.
Reed, and later House Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.), will reflect on the chances of a government shutdown at the end of the week and the prospects for a compromise defense policy bill. The House and Senate have yet to come together on a continuing resolution to fund the government, the White House’s request for $106 billion in foreign aid, or federal spending for fiscal 2024.
Threat assessment: House Intelligence Chair Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and ranking member Jim Himes (D-Conn.) will tell the audience how the war in Europe, renewed conflict in the Middle East, divisions at home and escalating threats worldwide are challenging security leaders at new levels. They’ll be asked for their latest threat assessment and what solutions they see for the U.S. and allies as well as what political roadblocks they see ahead.
AUKUS and Congress: Reps. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), two prominent congressional voices on shipbuilding, will speak to the challenges of growing the U.S. Navy’s fleet. They’ll also discuss the three-nation nuclear submarine and tech-sharing pact AUKUS; whether Congress can pass legislation this year to carry it out; and whether the firms that build submarines are healthy and strong enough to realize the pact’s goals.
Demands on industry: Pentagon acquisitions chief William LaPlante, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall will also sit down for one-on-one interviews to talk about how the Pentagon is working with the defense industrial base to boost production and tackle demands from around the globe.
Saronic Technologies co-founder and CEO Dino Mavrookas, with the RAND Corporation’s Stephanie Young and Center for a New American Security’s Paul Scharre, will dive into Pentagon efforts to develop cutting-edge weapons, including readily-available commercial gear.
Ukraine aid in peril: Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas will share her views at a time when America is turning its attention to Israel’s war in Gaza and continued aid for Ukraine is in flux. Support from the European Union, too, is showing signs of fatigue.
After meeting with Pentagon officials in Washington this week, she posted, “Russia counts on us getting tired. For Ukraine to win, we must support them at a scale sufficient to defeat Russia.”