DOD Addresses Supply Chain Resiliency
by Todd Lopez, DOD News
June 28, 2022
Even before COVID-19, the Defense
Department had identified supply chain vulnerabilities for things
like microelectronics. There, the onset of the pandemic exacerbated
a problem the department was already aware of. But the pandemic also
highlighted other areas of supply chain vulnerability in the U.S.,
some of which affect national security.
who performs the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for
industrial base policy, met on June 16, 2022 with stakeholders from
across the industrial base in Texas to discuss the department's
efforts to strengthen supply chain resiliency. The event, held near
Fort Worth, was in partnership with the National Economic Council
and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station.
very aware that we are facing critical shortages across a multitude
of areas including microelectronics for car manufacturing and baby
formula," Rosenblum said. "The last two years have revealed critical
gaps in the U.S. industrial base and an overreliance on foreign
manufacturing. As such, supply chain resilience has become not just
an economic priority — it's not just about quality of life issues —
it's become a national security imperative."
Lockheed Martin employees work on the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter production line in Fort Worth, Texas on December 24, 2012. (Photo by Defense Contract Management Agency)
Addressing members of the
Texas business community, Rosenblum outlined three
areas where the industrial base can help the Defense Department,
strengthen the supply chain and contribute to a more robust defense
of the nation. Those three focus areas include supply chain
transparency and resilience; work force development; and increased
support of small businesses.
"Supply chain resiliency is a
top-of-mind issue in a way it has not been for decades, and efforts
are underway across the U.S. government to understand and mitigate
some of our most glaring supply chain vulnerabilities," Rosenblum
For years, Rosenblum said, industry has focused almost
exclusively on supply chain efficiency over supply chain resiliency.
That laser-like focus on efficiency, she said, has created risk for
both the department and the nation.
The Defense Department,
she said, has prioritized five areas important to national defense
where the supply lines are challenged. Those include castings and
forgings; missiles and munitions; energy storage and batteries;
strategic and critical materials; and microelectronics.
President's budget request invests directly in these high-priority,
defense-critical sectors, including over $250 million dollars for
strategic and critical materials and over $600 million dollars for
kinetic capabilities, such as missiles and munitions," Rosenblum
Some of those investments, Rosenblum said, have been
made in Texas, including in areas like rare earth elements and
magnets as well as medical supplies like retractable syringes for
vaccine and therapeutic delivery.
Right now, Congress is
working to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act, which Rosenblum said
makes investments in securing the supply chains and creating
efficiencies for things like semiconductors.
supports the sort of research and development that have given
American businesses and workers a competitive edge against their
competitors around the world," she said.
stand shoulder-to-shoulder in front of a backdrop that says "Texas
A&M Engineering Experiment Station."
Another avenue the
department deems worth pursuing as a way to strengthen the supply
chain is development of the workforce responsible for creating the
materials and supplies the United States and Defense Department
need, said Rosenblum.
"Workers are a critical component of
supply chains, and make them possible," Rosenblum said. "In U.S.
manufacturing, the gap between open positions and available workers
is not expected to close, with an estimated 2.1 million unfilled
jobs by 2030."
Through the industrial skills initiative,
part of the Defense Department's Industrial Base Analysis and
Sustainment program, the department has invested over $80 million in
industrial workforce development and training projects since 2019,
"The intention of this initiative is to
support a variety of defense weapon system development, production
and sustainment needs, with a focus on skills such as welding,
advanced machining, electronics, precision optics, metrology,
digital/additive manufacturing and other emerging Industry 4.0
skills," she said. "These efforts will grow and strengthen the
manufacturing workforce pipeline, provide skills to new workers and
upskill existing workers, and improve public perception of
industrial skills careers."
A final component of the
department's effort to create resilient supply chains is greater
investment in and support of small businesses, Rosenblum said.
"American small businesses spur innovation, represent most new
entrants into the defense industrial base, and through their growth
create the next generation of suppliers with increasingly diverse
capabilities," she said.
Despite that, she said, the role of
small businesses in the defense industrial base has shrunk by over
40% over the last decade. The department, she said, spends over $80
billion each year with small businesses. But more must be done to
reverse the overall downward trend.
"Small businesses are
the heart of American manufacturing and DOD is committed to seeing
them succeed, prosper and remain competitive," she said. "Our goal
is to increase the innovation capacity of the defense industrial
base and systematically identify and mitigate pain points [of] doing
business with DOD — particularly for new entrants and
Rosenblum said one way larger
companies might help is by participating in the department's mentor-protege
program and by investing time and effort to help qualify new small
businesses in their own supply chains.
"We at the department
will continue to find new ways we can partner going forward to build
enduring advantages as we advance America's national security and
sustain America's economic future," Rosenblum said.
Our Valiant Troops |
I Am The One |
Citizens Like Us |
Spouses Serve Too