October 06, 2021

Sharper: Supply Chain Security

Analysis from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges for U.S. foreign policy.

By Anna Pederson

The pandemic has shown that the resilience of America's global supply chains—the interconnected movement of goods and services from creation to consumer—is a national security imperative not to be taken for granted. Now a key flashpoint in U.S.-China policy, and a burgeoning area of coordination with allies, supply chain security is an issue that cuts across the highest levels of policymaking down to the daily lives of countless Americans. With markets disrupted and critical goods and services still backlogged on a global scale, CNAS experts are sharpening the conversation about the many different aspects of supply chain security.Continue reading this edition of Sharper to explore their ideas and recommendations.

Features

Taking the Helm

The U.S. government must craft a national technology strategy for an era of sustained competition with a highly capable contender, write Martijn Rasser and Megan Lamberth in a CNAS report. A key part of this strategy: addressing America’s dangerously brittle critical supply chains. The U.S. must identify the supply chains where vulnerabilities pose an unacceptable risk to national security, economic security, and core necessities; audit these essential supply chains in conjunction with relevant industry leaders; and craft and execute a strategic plan to disentangle them.

U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council Inaugural Joint Statement

At the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, top U.S. and EU officials pledged closer collaboration on critical shared economic issues like the global semiconductor supply chain shortage. Experts from CNAS weighed in with in-line analysis of the joint statement published at the conclusion of the Philadelphia summit.

Digital Entanglement

As South Korea’s 5G ambitions expand, China is quietly seeking to shape the course of this U.S. ally’s digital future. CNAS experts recommend how the U.S. government, in coordination with South Korea and partners in the Indo-Pacific, should mitigate the risks associated with Chinese digital investment into its domestic markets. This includes a closer shared focus on supply chain security issues, with an eye toward developing reliable alternatives to and precluding deepening enmeshment with China’s defense industrial base.

Technology & National Security

Taking the Helm

The United States needs a new approach to regain the initiative. The stakes are high and the window for action is closing....

U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council Inaugural Joint Statement with Comments from CNAS Experts

Experts from the Center for a New American Security weighed in with in-line analysis of the joint statement published at the conclusion of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Cou...

Indo-Pacific Security

Digital Entanglement

China’s push to dominate digital infrastructure leaves liberal democratic countries at a critical juncture....

Events

Strengthening America's Defense Supply Chain

Securing America’s defense supply chains and defense industrial base is critical for U.S. national security. To identify opportunities for strengthening these critical supply chains, the House Committee on Armed Services activated the bipartisan Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force. On Thursday, July 22, 2021, CNAS hosted an event for the release of the final report of the Committee’s Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force. Task Force co-chairs Rep. Slotkin and Rep. Gallagher discussed the report’s key findings and recommendations with moderator Martijn Rasser, Senior Fellow and Director of the CNAS Technology and National Security Program.

Building a Trusted ICT Supply Chain

CNAS hosted a virtual panel discussion on Thursday, January 14, 2021 to discuss dependency on China and other adversary countries for some of the United States’ most critical supply chains, and how that threatens to undermine the trustworthiness of critical technologies and components that constitute and connect to cyberspace, including information and communications technology (ICT). Guest speakers included Rep. Mike Gallagher, Mark Montgomery, Sheena Greitens, and Sarah Sewall, and the event was moderated by Martijn Rasser, Senior Fellow and Director of the CNAS Technology and National Security Program.

Commentaries

The Neglected Agency at the Center of Biden’s China Strategy

"Tai made it clear that economic tools like tariffs and export controls are central to the administration’s approach," write Martijn Rasser and Megan Lamberth in POLITICO. "Yet the government agency most critical to these efforts still lacks the resources and authorities it needs to accomplish its mission. We’re talking about the Department of Commerce. As America’s national security becomes intertwined with its economic strength and technological leadership, Commerce has an increasingly central role in protecting U.S. technology advantages, addressing supply chain vulnerabilities and ensuring long-term economic competitiveness."

The Pentagon Must Act Now to Address Vulnerability in its Enterprise

"The COVID-19 pandemic is not combat, but it has stress-tested the DoD and the broader defense enterprise," write Tara Murphy Dougherty and Billy Fabian in Defense News. "It has degraded military readiness; disrupted modernization; and drawn U.S. armed forces into roles, such as vaccine distribution, beyond their core missions. This stress test exposed fragility in the defense enterprise to shocks like natural disasters and economic collapse. The DoD must heed the pandemic’s lessons about systemic vulnerability and, as it has during our nation’s wars, take action."

A Plan to Secure America's Supply Chains

"Supply chains — once the esoteric concern of inventory specialists and shipping companies — have emerged over the past year as a crucial and disconcertingly fragile link in global commerce," argue Martijn Rasser and Megan Lamberth in The Hill. "The White House and Congress, recognizing that the sinews of America’s economic vitality and national security have become increasingly stressed, have pursued parallel efforts to better understand and address vulnerabilities in the country’s critical supply chains."

Technology & National Security

The Neglected Agency at the Center of Biden’s China Strategy

The U.S.-China competition poses a complex and evolving challenge. The Commerce Department will play a vital role in developing and implementing a winning strategy, but its ab...

Defense

The Pentagon must act now to address vulnerability in its enterprise

The Defense Department cannot wait for another stress test before addressing fragility in its enterprise; it must learn and adapt now....

Technology & National Security

A Plan to Secure America's Supply Chains

Supply chain vulnerabilities are a central component of the global technology competition....

The EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council Has the Potential to Re-conceptualize the Transatlantic Relationship

"First and foremost, the allies must accept that the United States and Europe are not going to agree on everything," notes Carisa Nietsche for CNAS. "And that’s ok. From privacy to antitrust policy to the appropriate balance between regulation and innovation, the United States and Europe will certainly disagree on plenty of issues. But a productive dialogue will require allies to align on these thorny issues just enough to facilitate cooperation where it matters most – developing a joint industrial policy, leading on key technologies, securing supply chains, and charting democratic norms and standards for technology’s use."

Pandemic Problem: America's Supply Chains are Dangerously Brittle

"With all the uncertainty swirling around the Covid-19 outbreak, one thing is crystal clear: the methods needed to prevent or contain an epidemic have exposed the vulnerability and fragility of U.S. supply chains," writes Martijn Rasser in The National Interest. "Quarantines, travel bans, and factory shutdowns showed the risks in achieving economies of scale through geographic concentration. Concerns over certain supply chains are not new. In Washington, DC policy circles, much attention has been paid to areas with a direct impact on defense and national security, such as semiconductors and rare earths. What the ongoing crisis lays bare, however, is the extent of the brittleness in areas that are not considered traditional national security matters but still have a tremendous impact on America’s ability to compete, defend itself and just plain function."

Transatlantic Security

The EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council Has the Potential to Re-conceptualize the Transatlantic Relationship

On Wednesday, the United States and European Union held their inaugural meeting of the Trade and Technology Council in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The meeting came at a fraught ...

Indo-Pacific Security

Pandemic Problem: America's Supply Chains are Dangerously Brittle

With all the uncertainty swirling around the Covid-19 outbreak, one thing is crystal clear: the methods needed to prevent or contain an epidemic have exposed the vulnerability...

In the News

Featuring commentary and analysis by Emily Kilcrease, Martijn Rasser, and Nina Kollars.

Energy, Economics, & Security

U.S. Trade Rep Vows to Pressure China Beyond 'Phase One' Deal

The Biden administration is set to resume negotiations with Beijing as part of its long-awaited strategy for handling trade with China....

Defense

The shipping supply chain is stressed from Covid. That makes it ripe for hackers.

The global supply chain, where goods are shipped all over the world, is already stretched thin thanks to a year and a half of operating during a pandemic. It really doesn’t ne...

Technology & National Security

U.S. Enlists Allies to Counter China’s Technology Push

President Biden portrays U.S. relations with China as a clash of values: democracy vs. autocracy. But his rhetoric obscures the administration’s more pragmatic approach of cob...

About the Sharper Series

The CNAS Sharper series features curated analysis and commentary from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges in U.S. foreign policy. From the future of America's relationship with China to the state of U.S. sanctions policy and more, each collection draws on the reports, interviews, and other commentaries produced by experts across the Center to explore how America can strengthen its competitive edge.

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