Last week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III designated the Defense Microelectronics Activity as a center for industrial technical excellence, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby told reporters today.
"This designation allows greater utilization of small runs of DOD-critical microelectronics and semiconductors both inside and outside the DOD," he said. "It also allows the use of public-private partnerships that provide opportunities to promote partnering agreements between depots and private industry."
The DMEA provides a stable, guaranteed supply of microelectronics to the Defense Department and U.S. government agencies by developing partnerships with defense contractors or by securing intellectual property license agreements from the nation's leading technology providers.
Microelectronics enable many key weapon systems, Kirby said, adding that the department considers the designation to be a positive step toward ensuring that critical mission areas stay relevant and invaluable into the future.
U.S. Aircraft Will Not Return to Taliban
When the U.S. left Afghanistan in August 2021, so too did many members of the Afghanistan Air Force. Some Afghan pilots took themselves and their families out of the country to nearby Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, aboard aircraft which had belonged to the Afghanistan Air Force. Included among those aircraft were some which had been provided by the United States.
The Taliban, who overran Afghanistan as the U.S. exited the country, would like to have those aircraft back now. According to the Defense Department, when it comes to the U.S.-made helicopters, that's not likely to happen.
"We're still working out the disposition of those helicopters ... I don't have an update ... on any decisions about how they will be handled," said Kirby. "But I think it's safe to assume that they will not be sent into Afghanistan to be used by the Taliban."
The final decision on what happens to those aircraft, Kirby said, is something the Defense Department is still working on.
Currently, Kirby said, the Taliban are not recognized by the U.S. as the official government of Afghanistan, though he added that such decisions are not the purview of the Defense Department.
"What we would say is I think what everybody has said across the administration: that we want to see human rights, civil rights, we want to see the promises made by the Taliban actually delivered in terms of how people are going to be treated in Afghanistan."
Kirby also told reporters that the Defense Department's mission is to continue to protect the United States, including from any terrorism threats that may emanate from Afghanistan.
"We're going to stay eyes-on to what's going on there," he said. "We have serious, significant counterterrorism responsibilities. We have over-the-horizon capabilities that we can avail ourselves of, and we're going to continue to make sure that Afghanistan doesn't serve as a safe haven for an attack on the homeland again."
Also in the Middle East, Kirby touched on a terrorist attack in Abu Dhabi, which killed three civilians.
"We remain committed to the UAE's security and ability to defend itself," Kirby said. "We stand united with our Emirati partners in defending against all threats to their territory."