In response to the hundreds of vulnerabilities the nation’s defense industrial base faces — including a dwindling number of suppliers for many critical components, overreliance on foreign manufacturers and looming labor shortages — the Trump administration will immediately begin implementing the recommendations in a new interagency study of the defense base, Peter Navarro, assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing policy, says in an op-ed in the New York Times. The president, for example, soon will sign determinations authorizing the use of funds to expand manufacturing capabilities in areas such as lithium seawater batteries, critical for anti-submarine warfare, and cutting-edge fuel cells for the Navy’s future unmanned underwater vehicles.
Another step will be to modernize DOD’s network of depots, arsenals, shipyards and ammunition plants “to ensure American leadership in advanced manufacturing,” Navarro says. Trump also will direct the secretary of labor to more precisely target occupations for current and future growth — including systems engineers and high-skilled tool operators — expand worker training and education programs, and ensure appropriate incentives to recruit and retain workers are in place. That step is needed to alleviate a significant shortage of skilled workers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields as well as machinists, welders and other skilled trade workers needed to build and maintain ships, combat vehicles and aircraft.
Photo courtesy of Defense Contract Management Agency