WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s long-awaited defense-industrial base study will roll out next week, according to the Defense Department’s top acquisition official.
Speaking at the second annual Defense News Conference, Ellen Lord, the undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, announced that the study would likely be out “early next week,” after months of delays.
Lord had previously said the report would be out in May, and rumors abounded that it would be out several times between then and now. The report is the result of an executive order, signed by President Donald Trump last July, to look at the overall health of America’s defense industry.
More than a dozen working groups from across government have been studying the defense-industrial base to recommend ways to cover gaps and weaknesses. Those groups include representatives from the Pentagon and other agencies, such as the departments of Commerce and Homeland Security. Some of the working groups are aligned with subsectors like shipbuilding, ground vehicles or radars, while others match cross-cutting topics like the workforce, cybersecurity or electronics.
Eric Chewning, deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy, told Defense News in an interview that there were over 300 different working teams who weighed in on the report during the review period.
He added that the report would represent the first phase of rebuilding weak spots for the industry, which his office would be leading.
While details have been thin on what is mentioned in the report, one constant has been that the report would focus heavily on China’s attempts to buy up or infiltrate key defense technologies, which Lord said injected “fragility” into the supply chain.
Rare earth minerals are particularly at risk, Lord said, noting “China’s buying up a lot of supply in Africa and other places.
“We need to understand where alternative sources are,” she said. “So I think comparing information and then testing what is available in terms of scale and speed of delivery, is an ongoing effort.”
Chewning also identified microelectronics and production of circuit boards as one area that has been moving overseas at an alarming rate, and which the Pentagon would look to address in the future. He added that sub-tier suppliers would become more of a focus for his office.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.