On September 28, 2021, the US Department of Defense (“DoD”) published a notice of request for public comments. DOD’s request relates to Executive Order 14017, (“America’s Supply Chains” or “Supply Chain EO”). See some of our key blog posts on the Supply Chain EO for more background. As part of requiring agency reviews of key industrial bases’ supply chains, the Supply Chain EO mandated that DoD conduct a one-year review of supply chains within the defense industrial base with the goal of identifying key supply chain vulnerabilities and opportunities to address these vulnerabilities.
In scoping its review, DoD selected the four topics listed below and is now seeking comments about supply chain vulnerabilities and opportunities in these areas. The topics were selected based on critical vulnerabilities identified through ongoing supply chain analysis efforts.
i. Select kinetic capabilities: Includes Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs), Hypersonics, and Directed Energy (DE). Key components (e.g., critical energetics, microelectronics) are almost exclusively produced by foreign entities, including adversarial nations.
ii. Energy storage/batteries, which are critical to all kinetic capabilities, and is an evolving requirement
iii. Microelectronics, which similar to energy storage, are vital components used in nearly all defense systems.
iv. Castings and forgings, which are crucial to the manufacturing process.
In addition to the topics listed above, DoD requests input on the following five (5) systemic enablers, as they relate to the topics above. These enablers span all of the topic areas; are critical to mission success, and gaps or fragility in each can create operational and strategic risk.
i. Workforce: Includes all persons needed for a focus area, from skilled trades to specialty engineering degrees;
ii. Cyber posture: Includes cybersecurity, industrial security, and counterintelligence;
iii. Interoperability: Requirements needed to support operations with our allies, as well as the requirements to further enhance our interoperability between and among DoD’s systems and platforms;
iv. Small business: Focuses on addressing the barriers and challenges to small businesses to enter, and stay in, the defense ecosystem (both as primes and sub-contractors); and
v. Manufacturing: Includes core/traditional manufacturing modes and new manufacturing technology, such as additive manufacturing.
In regards to the four (4) topics and five (5) systemic enablers above, DoD is particularly interested in soliciting information in response to the following questions:
- Question 1. From your perspective, how has the globalization of the supply chain improved or complicated your ability to source DoD’s requirements?
- Question 2. What are the one or two greatest challenges your firm/association/industry faces operating in a distributed environment?
- Question 3. Are there ways DoD can better support your efforts to mitigate such challenges?
- Question 4. How does the federal government effectively mitigate supply chain risks?
- Question 5. What can the government do differently to better address supply chain risks and vulnerabilities in our major weapon systems/platforms (e.g., PGMs) and critical components ( e.g., microelectronics)?
- Question 6. What can the government do differently to successfully implement industrial base cybersecurity processes or protocols, attract skilled labor, implement standards, and incentivize the adoption of manufacturing technology?
DoD has issued a request for comments on vulnerabilities and policy recommendations related to the supply chain in strategic and critical materials. Comments are due on October 13, 2021. Companies participating in this supply chain should consider taking advantage of this opportunity to have a voice in US supply chain policy by assessing the vulnerabilities in their supply chains and submitting comments to the DoD.
The authors acknowledge the assistance of Ryan Orange in the preparation of this blog post.