The US needs to rethink its overseas supply chain

By Thomas Ayes, Defense News

As Americans respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have become acutely aware of the outsized impact of our dependence on China in the supply chain.

Pharmaceutical companies learned key chemicals and minerals are exclusively made or mined in China. For instance, reports show China produces 97 percent of the antibiotics, 95 percent of ibuprofen and 91 percent of hydrocortisone consumed in the U.S. market. Hospitals also learned that while China produces 50 percent of the world’s face masks, they are of dubious reliability. There is cause for concern with the quantity or quality of ventilators.

In sum, we learned as citizens what we in the Department of Defense have known for some time: Our national security supply chain must be free from dependence on China.

The DoD’s concern for its supply chain is not new. Congress spurred activity over a decade ago by questioning the DoD’s supply chain risk management, or SCRM, policies. The National Defense Strategy‘s recognition of a new era of strategic, great power competition further sharpened the DoD’s focus, propelling recent efforts to enhance regulations and procedures in addressing supply chain threats.