The Washington Times Daily

China’s domination of military supply chain alarms Pentagon.

Trump moves to shore up U.S. industrial, manufactur­ing base

- BY S.A. MILLER This article is based in part on wire service reports.

Fearing China’s domination of resources and technology needed to build America’s war machine, President Trump last week moved to fix nearly 300 vulnerabil­ities found in the Pentagon’s industrial and manufactur­ing base, the White House said.

A sweeping Pentagon report presented to the president Friday detailed the hundreds of weaknesses in U.S. industries vital to military readiness. It identified China as a “significan­t and growing risk” to the supply chain for military hardware.

The report noted that 90 percent of the world’s printed circuit boards are produced in Asia, more than half of them in China, presenting a risk to U.S. defense.

Mr. Trump responded with orders for the Department­s of Defense, Commerce, Energy, and Labor to make direct investment to expand U.S. manufactur­ing capacities and stockpile reserves of scarce materials, a senior administra­tion official said.

China’s dominance includes the global supply of rare-earth elements critical for military applicatio­ns.

As part of the effort, Mr. Trump ordered the Pentagon to develop and purchase equipment and materials needed for pilot production of lithium sea-water batteries needed for antisubmar­ine warfare.

The spending to address the shortfall in U.S. production of the batteries was announced in a letter the president sent to the chairmen of the House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

“These proposed initiative­s are essential to the national defense,” the president wrote.

Other spending will target critical bottleneck­s in the supply chain, support fragile suppliers and mitigate single points of failure, said the White House.

The 140-page Pentagon report traced some of the problems to defense spending caps known as sequestrat­ion and uncertaint­y in U.S. government spending.

The report also pointed to the decline of U.S. manufactur­ing capabiliti­es and deficienci­es in the workforce for science and skilled trades.

Other corrective actions outlined by the White House include:

● Accelerati­ng domestic workforce developmen­t efforts in science, technology, engineerin­g and mathematic­s (STEM) education and critical trade skills.

● Working with allies and partners on joint industrial base challenges.

The buildup aligns with Mr. Trump’s efforts to rebuild the U.S. steel and aluminum industries to protect national security.

He slapped tariffs on those products earlier this year to boost domestic production, triggering trade disputes with China but also with Canada and other allies. But the tariffs had the desired effect of expanding production that included the openings of new aluminum and steel mills.

The Pentagon report arrived as the administra­tion amplified its get-tough China policy. Vice President Mike Pence warned in a speech Thursday of Beijing’s economic and political interferen­ce in the U.S.

“We will not be intimidate­d, and we will not stand down,” said Mr. Pence.

Critics said the report included few new details about deficienci­es that have become apparent in recent years. Some of the concerns were outlined in an internal Defense Department report released earlier this year, according to Defense News.

Mr. Trump ordered the extensive review in July 2017 to assess lost manufactur­ing capability and military readiness.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan presented the report to the president Friday in Oval Office.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was the most comprehens­ive assessment of the manufactur­ing and defense industrial base in American history.

“The Trump administra­tion is pursuing an aggressive agenda to rebuild our military through increased defense spending and modernizat­ion initiative­s, while taking strong measures to revitalize American manufactur­ing,” she said in a statement. “We are reducing burdensome regulation­s, implementi­ng historic tax cuts, ending unfair trade deals, and much more. These policies represent the understand­ing, outlined in the 2017 National Security Strategy, that economic security truly is national security.”

 ?? ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Chinese manufactur­ing has become a “significan­t and growing risk” to the supply chain for military hardware, according to a sweeping Pentagon report.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Chinese manufactur­ing has become a “significan­t and growing risk” to the supply chain for military hardware, according to a sweeping Pentagon report.

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