Thornberry in RCP: COVID-19 and the Defense Industrial Base

May 13, 2020
Defense Drumbeat
Keeping the Industrial Base Healthy to Protect the Country

WASHINGTON, DC- In a column on RealClearPolitics today, HASC Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX) argues that keeping the Defense Industrial Base healthy is key to our national security, and explains what that will take.  Read the full column here.  Excerpts below:

"...COVID-19 demonstrates one kind of threat to American national security and our people. But we expect the government to have the country as prepared as possible against all of the different kinds of national security threats, including those we do not see coming. As in the past, being ready for future threats requires having a healthy, agile industrial base that can ensure those on the front lines have what they need to defend and protect us. That includes traditional defense suppliers, but it must extend to non-traditional companies, as well. Protecting the country is no longer just a question of tanks, ships, and planes, as we have seen...

"To have a healthy defense industrial base demands at least three things. One is to pay attention and know what the state of the industrial base is. Congress has previously required several reports on this topic, but we all probably underestimate the fragility of the supplier-and-subcontractor layer, which is largely small and medium-sized businesses. We need to keep our finger on the pulse of those we must count on in time of need and follow the readiness of our industrial base as closely as we follow the readiness of our military units.

"Secondly, we need stable, reliable funding. The recent history of defense spending being used as a political football is well-known. Without predictable, on-time funding, no industry can keep the necessary expertise on the payroll or make the needed investments upon which we rely in an emergency.

"Thirdly, with the transparency and appropriate oversight that must accompany such funding, we need more flexibility and less prescriptive regulation than we have now. Just as world events and the evolution of threats move quickly, we must be able to move faster in making funding adjustments to meet needs and opportunities...

"With COVID-19, the healthier an individual is going in, the better the chance of the surviving the disease. The healthier our defense industrial base, the better our country can weather and respond to the inevitable national security shocks to come. The time to prepare is now."

116th Congress