Leading defense contractors, federal officials and other experts are meeting in Phoenix.
While the U.N climate talks in Paris captured the world’s attention this week, there was another conference of considerable importance happening in Phoenix.
The annual Defense Manufacturing Conference (DMC) brings together private contractors, federal procurement officials, policymakers, engineers, scientists and members of academia to discuss ways to improve manufacturing practices in defense production. Concluding today, the summit addresses current government policy and potential improvements — and topping the list should be the dangerous outsourcing of America’s defense industrial base.
As AAM has been shouting from the hilltops for quite some time, far more needs to be done to improve and safeguard our defense industrial base. We’ve outsourced much of our defense, and as a result our military faces major supply chain vulnerabilities.
An example: Zero high tech magnets, which are crucial to military hardware, are Made in America. The magnets are 100 percent imported.
We hope DMC attendees are taking notice. The DMC provides an ideal opportunity for improving our current approach to manufacturing the needs of America’s 21st century military. Improved manufacturing techniques can reduce prices. Strategic investment in promising areas of scientific research could create the next generation of advanced weaponry.
The conference attendees are among the most powerful players in defense contracting, as well as innovative startups and manufacturing associations. They are striving to improve our defense industrial base in terms of efficiency, productivity, cost and innovation. And the companies and contractors attending the summit are obligated to obey the provisions of the Buy American Act and the Berry Amendment, both of which stipulate the domestic sourcing requirements of defense contracts.
But these producers cannot alter the fact that America has done things like surrendering the production of rare earth elements to China (91 percent of the element needed for night-vision goggles is imported from China). And they cannot force production of the high-tech magnets (required for missile systems) when we have outsourced the manufacturing of these components to countries in Asia.
That’s why it is imperative that our federal representatives be educated on this issue and held accountable for improving current policy. We need to ensure our military advancements are not accompanied by dependence on foreign producers.