In response to this charge, the committee reviewed previous government-sponsored studies as well as legislation pertaining to the stockpile. It analyzed the outputs of years’ worth of work by the Defense National Stockpile Center and reviewed the methodologies used to develop stockpile materials requirements. Its report discusses current defense materials needs, the changes in ways of generating defense requirements and system requirements, and the dramatic changes in the global supply and availability of materials. Other policies relating to defense industrial base needs are considered, as well as other tools available to assure a continuing supply of materials.
The committee concluded based on the preponderance of evidence it considered that the operation of the current NDS is disconnected from actual national defense materials needs in the twenty-first century and from national defense strategies and operational priorities. While there have been frequent changes in law and policy governing military planning and operations, there have not been any concomitant changes in the design or operation of the NDS.
Conclusion 1: The design, structure, and operation of the National Defense Stockpile render it ineffective in responding to modern needs and threats.
In the committee’s judgment, there remain three major threats to assuring the supply of materials critical to the national defense:
Increased demand from around the world for mineral commodities and materials.
Diminished domestic supply and processing capability along with greater dependence on foreign sources.
Higher risk of and uncertainty about supply disruptions owing to the fragmentation of global supply chains.
Modern minerals supply chains to U.S. industry and indeed to global industry are characterized by outsourcing and offshoring. Reductions over time in U.S. mining operations, processing facilities, and metal fabrication operations have limited U.S. capacity for mining or processing ore, and in some cases the country is entirely reliant on foreign sources in some key minerals sectors. Much of the current content of the U.S. defense materials stockpile reflects history rather than current national security needs, and the process to assess stockpile requirements and goals does not identify specific materials needed to produce current or planned military systems and platforms. Consequently, there may be a demand for specific, high-priority, defense-related materials that is not being addressed because too little is known about materials usage.