No Surprise Here: U.S. Defense Supply Chain is Reliant on China & Other Rivals, Report Finds

Jesús Espinoza

Jesús Espinoza Press Secretary, AAM

The Defense Department released an urgent report on Friday outlining how its supply chains are alarmingly reliant on China and other potential military rivals for essential materials.

How can the U.S. military properly defend our nation if it can’t source what it needs from domestic sources -- and instead must depend on potential adversaries for those materials?

The simple answer: it can’t.

This shouldn’t be surprising, though.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has been sounding the alarm on this pressing issue since 2013, when we published a report that identified many of the same weaknesses in our military supply chains and overall defense preparedness.

Authored by Brig. Gen. John Adams, U.S. Army (Ret.), ReMaking American Security found glaring gaps in our military’s ability to source materials that produce everything from steel armor plate and lithium ion batteries to hellfire missile propellant and biological weapons defense—important tools that could mean life or death for Americans in combat.

The origin of many of these weaknesses is the fact that our leaders have neglected our vital manufacturing sector for too long. Every action—or inaction—has a consequence, and these cracks in America’s armor have only widened because Washington fails to thoroughly back policies that support the factories, workers, and mines that source the essential resources and goods our military requires.

The Defense Department couldn’t make this any clearer:

"The ability of the military to surge in response to an emergency depends on our Nation’s ability to produce needed parts and systems, healthy and secure supply chains, and a skilled U.S. workforce. The erosion of American manufacturing over the last two decades, however, has had a negative impact on these capabilities and threatens to undermine the ability of U.S. manufacturers to meet national security requirements. Today, we rely on single domestic sources for some products and foreign supply chains for others, and we face the possibility of not being able to produce specialized components for the military at home. As America’s manufacturing base has weakened, so too have critical workforce skills ranging from industrial welding, to high-technology skills for cybersecurity and aerospace. Support for a vibrant domestic manufacturing sector, a solid defense industrial base, and resilient supply chains is a national priority."

Supporting American manufacturing is not only sound economic policy that creates good paying jobs and supports local communities, but is a patriotic duty that safeguards our nation from a litany of dire threats.

As a result of the recent report, the Pentagon announced it will audit the supply chains of U.S. aerospace and defense companies “to find gaps and weaknesses in the nation’s military readiness,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

It’s a start, but there’s far more work to be done. Washington must support swift action and policies that work toward fixing this shameful oversight. As Adams outlined back in 2013, some potential solutions to our pressing defense needs include:

  1. Increasing long-term federal investment in high-technology industries, particularly those involving advanced research and manufacturing capabilities;
  2. Properly applying and enforcing existing laws and regulations to support the U.S. defense industrial base;
  3. Developing domestic sources of key natural resources required by our armed forces (one Nevada lithium deposit alone has the potential to produce a quarter of the world’s lithium supply, for example);
  4. Developing plans to strengthen our defense industrial base in the U.S. National Military Strategy, National Security Strategy, and the Quadrennial Defense Review process;
  5. Building consensus among government, industry, the defense industrial base workforce, and the military on the best ways to strengthen the defense industrial base;
  6. Increasing cooperation among federal agencies and between government and industry to build a healthier defense industrial base;
  7. Strengthening collaboration between government, industry, and academic research institutions to educate, train, and retrain people with specialized skills to work in key defense industrial base sectors;
  8. Crafting legislation to support a broadly representative defense industrial base strategy;
  9. Modernizing and securing defense supply chains through networked operations; and
  10. Identifying potential defense supply chain chokepoints and planning to prevent disruptions. 

Congress and the White House, take note. The “savings” in costs from relying on potential rivals for essential defense materials evaporate when considering the chilling threat this toxic reliance has on the security of American servicemembers and civilians alike. As our AAM President Scott Paul noted on Friday, it's past time to act to mitigate this continued threat.


Reposted from AAM

Posted In: From Alliance for American Manufacturing, Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work