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Weekly Debrief #47

Aarzu Maknojia, Friday, October 2, 2020

Bonus: Supplemental Funding for Defense Contractors During COVID-19 Highlights Fragility Of Defense Industrial Base

(SMI) Last week, we included an article from the Washington Post criticizing the Pentagon's use of funds appropriated to the Defense Production Act Title III. We also included the Pentagon's response. This week, SMI's own Ken Wetzel, wrote a response, arguing that "ensuring defense contractors are able to successfully navigate an unprecedented crisis such as COVID-19 is directly related to the United States’ national security."

1. Pelosi Signals No Coronavirus Deal Likely with White House

(Politico) "Speaker Nancy Pelosi was highly pessimistic Thursday about the chances of clinching a coronavirus relief deal with the White House, leaving House Democrats on a path to approve their own stimulus package and head home to run for reelection. Pelosi cast serious doubt on the likelihood of an agreement during a private call with House Democrats Thursday, stressing multiple times that Republicans don’t “share our values."

2. COVID-19 Response Sparks Efforts to Strengthen Supply Chain

(DoD) The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the fragility of the Defense Department's supply chain. As a result, the department is taking a variety of steps to strengthen that supply chain, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment said. The COVID-19 pandemic, along with other government reports have highlighted the need to re-shore critical industries related to defense, including microelectronics, rare earth minerals and unmanned aerial systems.

3. Defense Innovation Is Falling Short

(War on the Rocks) After six years of dedicated effort, the Pentagon’s innovation initiatives are still far from meeting their goal. Despite some notable successes, the DoD is missing a key opportunity to deliver on its promise of putting transformational technologies into the hands of U.S. service members. The DoD should work to bring together the research community and high-tech ecosystem to operationalize science.

4. 'Buy American' Reforms Strike the Right Balance

(Defense News) Several congresspersons wrote this piece to clarify the "Buy American" provision in the House Armed Services Committee's National Defense Authorization Act. They note " The Buy American reforms under consideration in Congress strike the right balance between economic cooperation and comingled supply chains with the needs of the American worker and ensuring our national security in an uncertain world."

5. Hypersonic Weapons Budget Expected To Remain Steady

(NDIA) Despite hypersonics dropping down the Defense Department's priority list a few notches, funding for the game-changing technology is expected to remain steady, a Pentagon official said. Mike White, assistant director for hypersonics at the office of the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering explained, "The reason why hypersonics has drifted down a little bit in the priority behind microelectronics, mainly is the fact that we're on a good path."
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