The Pentagon recently unveiled its inaugural National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS), marking a significant shift in its approach to bolstering national defense capabilities. The 59-page document, described as a “call to action,” is crafted to address the evolving challenges faced by the U.S. in a rapidly changing global security environment, particularly with the rise of China as a global industrial powerhouse and ongoing threats from Russia.
The NDIS outlines a strategic vision to create a “fully capable 21st-century defense sector,” focusing on four key areas: resilient supply chains, workforce readiness, flexible acquisition, and economic deterrence. This strategy is not only a response to external threats but also a culmination of over six years of Pentagon work, including reviews initiated during former President Donald Trump’s administration.
The strategy emphasizes the need for the U.S. to produce defense capabilities at speed and scale to maintain its strategic advantage. It highlights China’s significant advancements in various key areas such as shipbuilding, critical minerals, and microelectronics, which in some cases surpass the combined capabilities of America and its allies.
One of the core aspects of the strategy involves addressing the health of defense suppliers, which have been strained by events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic. The strategy calls for diversifying Defense Department suppliers, training more industry-related workers, increasing commercial acquisitions, and sharing technology with U.S. partners.
Notably, the NDIS is not intended to introduce new problems or solutions but to coordinate industrial base work across the Pentagon. It includes developing a map of supply chains for 110 different weapons systems to identify vulnerable points. This approach is expected to signal a longer-term commitment to current suppliers while opening avenues for collaboration with non-traditional companies, especially in the innovation space.