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by BG John Adams, USA (Ret)

With the closing of factories across the United States and the mass exodus of manufacturing jobs to China and other nations over the past 30 years, the United States’ critically important defense industrial base has deteriorated dramatically. As a result, this country now relies heavily on imports to keep our armed forces equipped and ready. Compounding this rising reliance on foreign suppliers, the United States also depends increasingly on foreignfinancing arrangements.

In addition, the United States is not mining enough of the critical metals and other raw materials needed to produce important weapon systems and military supplies. These products include the night vision devices (made with a rareearth element) that enabled U.S. Navy SEALs [sea, air, land teams] to hunt down Osama bin Laden.

Consequently, the health of the U.S. defense industrial base—and with it our national security—is in jeopardy. We are vulnerable to major disruptions in foreign supplies that could make it impossible for U.S. warriors, warships, tanks, aircraft and missiles to operate effectively. Such supply disruptions could be caused by many factors, including:Poor manufacturing practices in offshore factories that produce problem-plagued products. Shoddy manufacturing could be inadvertent, could be part of a deliberate attempt to cut costs and boost profits, or could be intentionally designed to damage U.S.

capabilities. Motivated by expected gains in cost, innovation and efficiency, DOD began a decided shift from parts made to military specifications to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts and equipment two decades ago. However, COTS items often lack the quality control and traceability necessary to ensure that parts used in the defense supply chain meet the rigorous standards we expect of equipment vital to our national security. Faulty and counterfeit COTS parts are already taking a toll on readiness in several defense sectors.Natural disasters, domestic unrest, or changes in government that could cut or halt production and exports at foreign factories and mines.Foreign producers that sharply raise prices or reduce or stop sales to the

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