Pentagon's draft industrial base strategy calls for 'generational change'

By Tony Bertuca  / December 2, 2023

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The Pentagon says it has become "acutely aware of significant challenges" facing the U.S. defense industrial base and has produced a strategy -- to be followed by an implementation plan -- that details key areas where U.S. weapons suppliers can be strengthened, according to a draft copy of the new National Defense Industrial Strategy obtained by Inside Defense.

“This NDIS offers a strategic vision to coordinate and prioritize actions to build a modern defense industrial ecosystem,” states the draft document, which is marked "pre-decisional."

The Pentagon says it wants the new NDIS, the first strategy of its kind, to “catalyze generational change to a more robust, resilient and dynamic defense industrial ecosystem.”

“We have become acutely aware of significant challenges that we must address, including the importance of production capacity underpinned by strong, secure supply chains,” according to the document. “By aligning policies, investments, and activities inside and outside the Department in a manner that is tailored to specific competitors, our industrial ecosystem can strengthen deterrence to maximum effect.”

The document says the “proposed pathway” offered by the strategy, which includes numerous observations about the challenges facing the defense supply chain, “cannot be isolated to the Department of Defense,” but will require collaboration between the entire U.S. government and defense industry.

At present, today's defense industrial base "does not possess the capacity, capability, responsiveness, or resilience required to satisfy the full range of military production needs at speed and scale."

The strategy lays out four broad priorities “to serve as guiding beacons for industrial action and resource prioritization in support of the development of a modern industrial ecosystem that supports the nation’s defense”: resilient supply chains, workforce readiness, flexible acquisition and economic deterrence.

The final version of the strategy is set to be released next week. Several defense industry executives briefed on the plan -- who agreed to speak anonymously for fear of offending DOD -- said they are underwhelmed by the strategy for its lack of detail and wondered if the department will be able to truly resource what it wants.

“Lots of observations,” one industry executive said. “Let’s wait and see the implementation plan.”

Watch Inside Defense for further reporting on this developing story.