Five reasons you should be concerned about the U.S. military's reliance on foreign manufacturers.

Posted by LDonia on 05/16/2013

Last week the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) told you about a new study prepared by Brigadier General John Adams (U.S. Army, Retired). The report finds urgent action is needed to reduce the U.S. military’s dangerous dependence on foreign suppliers for the raw materials, parts, and finished products needed to defend America.

The report is lengthy, and we at ManufactureThis don't presume all of you have read it already, so we wanted to highlight five reasons you should be concerned about the findings.

1.) The United States is almost entirely dependent on other countries for 19 metals necessary to build advanced electronics and different steel products. To make the matter worse, many of these metals are mined in volatile places. The clincher? The U.S. imports these metals despite having considerable domestic resources for many of them. In other words we send our tax dollars overseas to buy metals from sometimes volatile places when we could be paying American workers to mine them here.

2.) China is making 75% of the world's high-tech magnets, the United States is making 0%.  High-tech magnets are needed to manufacture military vehicles and equipment, including: helicopters, some jet fighters, HELLFIRE missiles, submarines, and Navy destroyers, among others. This raises some better questions, such as: "What happens if we no longer have access to China's high-tech magnets?"

3.) U.S. manufacturers produced a mere 1% of the lithium-ion batteries manufactured globally in 2010. Lithium-ion batteries are used in fighter jets, helicopters, missiles, and bomb disposal robots, to name a few pieces of equipment.

4.) Semiconductors, necessary for missile guidance systems, artillery rocket systems, radars, sensors, bombs, and fighter jets, among other uses, are made primarily outside of the United States. To be specific, 15% of semiconductors in the world are American-made, down from nearly 50% in 1980.

5.) The rocket fuel that propels U.S. Hellfire missiles is made by a single Chinese company. HELLFIRE missiles are our most widely used and effective weapon, and our ability to use them is contingent upon one Chinese company. Contemplate that.

Read more about the ways the U.S. military is dependent on foreign suppliers, and what can be done to reverse the trend.

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