New Pentagon acquisition head to explore foreign technology in UAE

New Pentagon acquisition head to explore foreign technology in UAE
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The Pentagon’s new head of acquisition said she will be on the lookout for “unique foreign technology” while at the Dubai Air Show next week. 

“Part of what I will be doing at the show is walking around and seeing what’s there in the exhibition hall and I have a team that’s previewing things for me and ... I will choose a certain number of booths to visit to understand it a little bit better,” said Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon prior to leaving for the United Arabs Emirates, Lord said her objectives are less “shopping trip” and more “an opportunity to understand what the art of the possible is in terms of technology applications right now.”


The former Textron Systems chief executive said she will look for “what is particularly interesting, whether it be communication technology, or it be autonomy, whether it be space capability, all of these different types of things.”

Lord said she wouldn’t “rule anything out,” when asked if she would buy a foreign product versus trying to organically build the technology into the U.S. industrial base.

“I think that we have a lot of strong partnerships with partners and allies, and I wouldn’t rule out any type of path forward,” she explained.

“Obviously we have strong incentives to try to support buy America and so forth, and I’m very respectful of the administration’s position, yet we’re smart buyers so ... I think we’re expected to make smart decisions which are in the best interest of the U.S,” she said.

The Trump administration has pushed hard for government agencies to buy and use more products and supplies from within the United States. Lord would not say whether she foresaw any issues with potentially buying foreign defense technologies, saying only “we’re looking at what the art of the possible is.”

“We obviously are looking domestically at everything we have and what we can use. However, we would never rule out a good opportunity, and we would take it on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

Lord also acknowledged that her trip to the UAE comes at a time of high tension in the region thanks to the blockade on Qatar, imposed by the Saudi Arabia-led group of nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerThe Memo: Trump in a corner on Saudi Arabia Corker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE (R-Tenn.) vowed in June to bar arms sales to Persian Gulf states in the wake of the Qatar blockade.

Lord said she will always adhere U.S. policy but added, “that does not constrain us from having conversations about what different countries desire and what we can do now.”

As the senior Department of Defense representative at the show, Lord also said she has planned a variety of engagements with industry and foreign officials. She will stop in Italy prior to Dubai to meet with Italian acquisition officials and tour the country’s F-35 plant, and will meet with Ukrainian, Australian, Indian and UAE officials at the show.