In a new piece for The Hill’s Congress Daily Blog, retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John Adams argues the recently released Defense Industrial Base Report and its findings, which we previously discussed here and here, represent a call to action for Congress and other stakeholders, because it shows that “[j]ust when we should be retooling for renewed great power competition, the very foundation from which we project strength is crumbling.”
Gen. Adams highlights the “aggressive industrial policies of competitor nations, particularly China”as one of the biggest issues. Pointing to the extent our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals has grown over the course of the past 40 years, he says “[o]ur shocking import dependence on minerals and metals is merely a microcosm of the problem,” and continues:
“A troubling number of these minerals are dominated by domestic Chinese production or by Chinese companies operating around the globe. Take our 100 percent import reliance on rare earth minerals. China has monopolized the production of these 17 minerals, which are in a dizzying array of military hardware. From F-22 and F-35 aircraft to guidance and targeting systems, these minerals are essential to most of our advanced weapons systems. That we have allowed to China to dominate their production and processing defies comprehension.”
His suggestions on how to alleviate the problems strike a theme familiar for followers of ARPN:
“We must first begin with taking a comprehensive approach to U.S. competitiveness. Challenging unfair trade practices should be part of that approach but reducing our self-imposed barriers to competitiveness must be part of the equation as well. Our redundant, broken mine permitting process is a case in point. (…) We can and must do better.”
“Rebuilding our defense industrial base is finally being given the attention it deserves. How effectively we act remains to be seen. However, the systemic challenges highlighted in the just-released report can no longer go unaddressed. A concerted effort from the executive branch, Congress and the Department of Defense is needed to undo years of damage caused by decades of complacency. We must urgently address our astonishing and growing import dependence on the raw materials that are the building blocks for our most important defense systems.”
The time to act is now – our competitors, and first and foremost China, have made clear they’re not going to wait for us to get our resource policy house in order.