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Save U.S. National Security Supply Chain Before It’s Lost

Today, Americans live in a world marked by the most challenging foreign policy landscape in generations, while here at home we are confronted with division and gridlock. Further complicating these challenges is that we are now faced with the fact that our national security supply chain hangs by a thread. It’s not just a shortage of critical elements comprising supply chains of needed traditional national security technology and weaponry. It’s also a shortfall of needed active pharmaceutical ingredients APIs: According to API metrics, “a complex ecosystem of interdependent technologies, each playing a critical role to make drugs so people can live.” It’s energy components needed for America to be self-reliant and quantum elements needed to win the quantum race versus our adversaries. It’s also rare earth elements needed in high technology devices, magnets, batteries, clean

Today, Americans live in a world marked by the most challenging foreign policy landscape in generations, while here at home we are confronted with division and gridlock.

Further complicating these challenges is that we are now faced with the fact that our national security supply chain hangs by a thread.

It’s not just a shortage of critical elements comprising supply chains of needed traditional national security technology and weaponry. It’s also a shortfall of needed active pharmaceutical ingredients APIs: According to API metrics, “a complex ecosystem of interdependent technologies, each playing a critical role to make drugs so people can live.”

It’s energy components needed for America to be self-reliant and quantum elements needed to win the quantum race versus our adversaries.

It’s also rare earth elements needed in high technology devices, magnets, batteries, clean energy, and defense technologies.

Presently, the United States accounts for only about 16% of the world’s rare earth production. That’s particularly sad when you consider that up until the late 1990s, the United States extracted and produced most rare earth elements.

The dire shortage of key elements of the U.S. supply chain impacts almost every aspect of American life. As an example, many Americans take plasma-derived therapies just to live.

Today, unfortunately, there is only one American-owned plasma manufacturer left in our country. You can’t make a missile, or anything MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected), or a printed circuit board (PCB) without glass fiber yarn.

Again, sadly there is only one glass fiber yarn manufacturer left in the U.S.

Most of this needed capability has gone to Asia, including Communist China.

Speaking of Communist China, winning the Quantum Race is a national imperative.

Unfortunately, here we are also down to just one American-owned manufacturer of certain key components needed for quantum computing.

And the ever-growing drug shortage now includes Albuterol, which many asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) patients take.

To put it bluntly, our national security supply chain is hanging by a thread.

This dire fact affects almost every aspect of American life.

To put it bluntly, the time for studies, commissions with no authority, and task forces is more than well over.

We have run out of time.

Now is the time for action and real American leadership.

Furthermore, here are key actions we as a nation can take right now to avert further erosion of the American national security supply chain, while simultaneously trying to rebuild it:

Increase Transparency of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) – Since the Ford Administration, CFIUS has been responsible for investigating and approving the purchase of property and businesses within the United States — including industry, farmland, and natural resources.

There must be increased visibility into this progress on Capitol Hill, as lapses in communication by the administration endanger our national security.

Late last year, this rift was highlighted by a letter to the CFIUS Chair, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, from the Chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee voicing concerns over TikTok’s connections to the People’s Republic of China – calling for a stronger focus on national security as it pertains to geostrategic competition.

Establish a Special Select Committee on the National Security Supply Chain – To conduct adequate oversight of CFIUS programs, a committee with concurrent jurisdictions over CFIUS matters should be codified — fusing the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the House Committee on Financial Services. The Committee must hold CFIUS accountable; though classified in nature, Congress must be keyed into these issues.

Also needed at this critical time in our nation:

Expand Bipartisan Attention to National Security Supply Chains  This is not a Democratic or GOP issue. Securing our supply chains is a national security issue. Congress must work together to alleviate these challenges – going beyond ideas to action.

Incorporate America’s Closest Allies — For offshored industries, friend-shoring is demanded to meet future threats to our national security supply chains. This should prioritize major security partners – starting with AUKUS and NATO. Looking at quantum computing, many critical technologies are only produced in select countries — international efforts with such nations must be expanded.

Establish the American Supply Chain and Manufacturing Initiative  Expanding on the CHIPS and Science Act, government must expand these programs across sectors critical to America’s national security. There should be two pots of money within this program.

One should support sectors where there are one to two American-owned companies remaining — providing research and development funding to support leading-edge technologies.

The second should focus on small businesses working to expand American capacities in fields that America has lost domestically.

The reason the States came together in the first place was to provide for the “common defense” of the American people.

Looking at the sad state of the American national security supply chain, it’s obvious that our government and politicians have failed us.

True, there were voices in the wilderness early on.

Men like former House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter who warned of the need to build up domestic American manufacturing of critical national security components, and Dr. Charles Richardson, inventor of the Total Artificial Heart, who cautioned against overreliance of APIs from foreign sources, and sounded the alarm to secure our medical supply chain.

Unfortunately, their warnings went unheeded.

It is now the eleventh hour. Now is the time to implement real measures with real teeth to save what is left of America’s supply chain, while rekindling the American spirit to rebuild what we’ve already lost.

Van Hipp is Chairman of American Defense International, Inc. He is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army and author of “The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It.” He is the 2018 recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Sept. 11 Garden Leadership Award for National Security.


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