Pentagon report on US defense industry a ‘wakeup call’

A “historic” report released by the Pentagon on Friday that concluded there are nearly 300 vulnerabilities in the supply chain and materials required by the U.S. military serves as a wakeup call for the country, according to the director of the White House Trade Council.

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The nearly 150-page report produced by the Department of Defense detailed how reliant the U.S. is upon China for critical materials like rare earth minerals that are used for national defense purposes, Peter Navarro said during an interview with FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Friday.

“We have a fairly heavy dependence, particularly on China, for a lot of our critical movements,” he said. “We’re going to ramp up a stockpile program to get some buffers there.”

To curtail the dependency, Navarro said President Trump will set a “blueprint for action” into motion, which will include support for some companies in the “subtiers” of the U.S. supply chain that need help to modernize and expand.

Reuters reported on Thursday that other steps will include an effort to build up stockpiled reserves of scarce materials and expand U.S. manufacturing capabilities in things like “lithium seawater batteries that are critical for anti-submarine warfare.”

But Navarro said the report expands beyond America’s reliance on China: It’s the first modern assessment of the industrial base, which Trump promised to rebuild, one of his key 2016 presidential campaign linchpins.

“This is a wakeup call,” he said. “This report does highlight vulnerabilities that we need to address, not just because we’re dependent on China for components.”

Relations between the world’s two biggest economies are already tense amid a months-long trade war and accusations that Beijing steals intellectual property.  On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence also accused China of efforts to undermine Trump ahead of the November midterm elections.