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U.S. technology advantage would be wasted without strengthening defense industry base



The F / A-18E Super Hornet distribution photo dated July 4, 2020 flies the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), a Navy-only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, and maintains the tactical presence of the Ronald Reagan’s. I am. Photograph of the US Navy by Mass Communication Specialist Grade 2 Samantha Jetzer (via ABACAPRESS.COM)

At the end of the summer of 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill faced a dilemma.

British scientists have made technological advances that help ease the heightened military pressure in Germany. Cavity magnetrons have downsized microwave radars, enabling entirely new and innovative military capabilities. If Britain could take advantage of this innovation, it would change the course of war in Europe.

And here lies the Churchills dilemma. The isolated and besieged British factory was already producing the supplies it needed. There were no spare resources to leverage the invention or manufacture the features it could provide on a large scale.

With German pressure rising in August and September 1940, British scientist Sir Henry Tizard sent Churchill a mission to North America, the most brought to our shores by American historian James Finney Baxter III. Persuaded to share a hollow magnetronator called a valuable cargo. American industrial development and manufacturing giant.

US scientists (in collaboration with colleagues in the United Kingdom and Canada) and the industry have developed and manufactured dozens of applications for microwave radar. In the short term, air-to-air radar helped the UK detect individual planes, while air-to-ground radar allowed the UK to maintain its maritime supply line by detecting emerging German U-boats. I made it. Ultimately, microwave radar helped the Allies win World War II in Europe.

As the 80th anniversary of the Tizzard mission approaches, this episode reminds us of the importance of manufacturing and supply chain management in the process of acquiring innovation. Unlike in the 1930s, in a defense and security environment characterized by great power competition to harness the military power of new technology, the United States goes beyond fostering the industrial base available to take advantage of this advantage. You can’t make an effort to achieve your advantage.

Indeed, it is a beneficial development for the US Department of Defense (DoD) and military services as a whole to focus on new models and creative approaches to drive innovation. However, accelerators, credible capital, funding reforms, technology sprints, and other new tools will be a systematic and controlled effort to build and maintain the U.S. industrial base in both industrial and organic government-owned facilities. It produces the desired results only when it is relevant. Without this involvement, the U.S. defense community would take a terrible look back at the performance of DoD accelerators to see what they were getting with the money, how many of their investments went to service program programs, and which You may be overwhelmed by the loss of just the opportunity.

The lack of control and oversight of US manufacturing bases and defense supply chains has resulted in decades of underinvestment and atrophy in US manufacturing. The single point of failure, the dominance of foreign suppliers, especially the lack of manufacturing capacity in the high-tech industry, all reveal a risk layer of the Pentagon’s ability to support defense.

The issue received more attention during the coronavirus epidemic due to the disastrous real consequences of this decline, including lack of testing, personal protective equipment, and daily cleaning supplies. However, over-focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on the supply chain obscures the broad view that the weaknesses of our industrial base precede the pandemic and are the result of years of negligence. The problem is structural, not contextual.

The most frequently cited and easily measured risk associated with the combination of reduced manufacturing and vulnerable and vulnerable supply chains is loss of readiness. For example, in a 2019 Pentagon inspector and maritime defense logistics agency spare parts audit of the F / A18 E / F Super Hornets, a shortage of spare parts hindered the Navy’s and Defense Logistics Agency’s ability to maintain operational readiness. I found out that there is. Super Hornet Fleet.

Supplying critical repair parts and spares for combat is always a challenge, and building resilience if the number of critical spares ordered does not bring sufficient benefits to the industry to build a new production line. Is difficult. However, DoD now has the ability (or will be available soon) to manufacture parts in laminated form to specifications. When will DoD arrive? And then can we hire an industrial partner who can serve as a utility infielder who can adjust production based on fast-moving requirements?

The impact of shrinking manufacturing bases is especially acute during this time of great power competition, where China-based companies are playing an increasingly important role in the US defense supply chain.

In August, defense analysis firm Govini released data and analysis showing the magnitude of China’s invasion of the US defense supply chain. Examining a sample of 18 core industries as a whole, between 2010 and 2019, the number of Chinese suppliers in the Pentagon’s supply chain increased by 420% to a total of 655. None of these companies are Tier 1 suppliers, but the scale of reliance on China-based companies at level 25 increases the risk to the US defense supply chain of operations, coercion, and ongoing intellectual property theft. I will. China-based companies have become very important in the specialty chemicals, a wide variety of chemicals, telecommunications equipment, electronic components and other industries, developing new technologies for defense and security applications in the digital age. As it is done, it can become more important in all areas.

More than ever, we need more leadership and control of our industrial base. Someone needs to supervise and coordinate innovation efforts, and most importantly, ensure that service accelerators and other DoD innovation efforts are connected to manufacturing sites and supply chains. This could be the role of DoD’s CEO in the future.

Fourth Industrial Revolution Technological innovations drive military power and conflict in new directions, just as the development of rocket technology, atomic science, and microwave radar shaped a new type of war leading up to World War II. doing. However, the creation of innovation and the acquisition of innovation are not the same. Even state-of-the-art system breakthroughs, from hypersonic missiles to flexible hybrid electronics to autonomous systems, are becoming increasingly conflicting as the United States lacks the domestic ability to manufacture and maintain these capabilities on a large scale. If exposed, it will be hollow. geostrategic competition.

Maj. Gen. John Wharton (retired) is a former commander of the Army’s Sustain Command, which was the headquarters for research, development, and engineering.

Tate Nurkin is a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Forward Defense.


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Event Summary by Andrew Farnsworth

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The world could be approaching a complete storm as two major global trends intersect. At the moment of historic transition, the world is undergoing an unprecedented technological transformation as the post-WWII and post-Cold War international orders are eroded in a competing vision of world order and new geopolitical competition. Is in the early stages of

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