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USA: DoD´s seeks to bolster weapons production speed and scale

Washington, Jan 11 (Prensa Latina) With a central focus on the growing threat from China’s emergence as a “global industrial powerhouse,” the Defense Department’s “first of its kind” National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS) is focused on increasing the ability of domestic companies to more rapidly produce weapon systems in greater quantities to ensure the US military’s edge in any future conflict.

“While America continues to generate the world’s most capable weapons systems, it must have the capacity to produce those capabilities at speed and scale to maximize our advantage,” the strategy, released today, says.

“DoD needs to move aggressively toward innovative, next-generation capabilities while continuing to upgrade and produce, in significant volumes, conventional weapons systems already in the force.”

Laura Taylor-Kale, assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy, told reporters today that the drive behind the strategy is the increased threats to US national security, citing China and Russia in particular.

“America faces great threats to national security, our adversaries are building up their military power to levels not seen since World War II,” she said. “It’s important to note that America’s economic security and national security or mutually reinforcing and ultimately the nation’s military strength depends in part on our overall economic strength.”

Further, the 55-page document makes clear that efforts to bolster the US defense industrial base are needed immediately.

“The current and future strategic environment requires immediate, comprehensive, and decisive action in strengthening and modernizing our defense industrial base ecosystem to ensure the security of the United States and our allies and partners.

As this strategy makes clear, we must act now,” Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks writes in a forward to the strategy.

Therefore, said Taylor-Kale, “the NDIS will guide the department’s engagement policy development and investment in the industrial base over the next three to five years.”

The overarching goal, the document says, is to “make the industrial ecosystem dynamic, responsive, state-of-the-art, resilient, and a deterrent to our adversaries.”

To that end, the NDIS lays out four priorities “to serve as guiding beacons for industrial action and resource prioritization in support of the development of a modern industrial ecosystem that supports the nation’s defense.”

The document does not shy away from acknowledging that a number of serious challenges must be overcome for the Pentagon to achieve those priorities.

These range from a lack of skilled workers and “inadequate” domestic manufacturing capabilities, to DoD’s failure to adequately exploit innovative dual-use technologies, to the fact that the US military is an “unattractive customer” due to “low volume buying patterns, lengthy periods between modernization, and often unnecessarily over-customized design specifications” and budget instability.