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Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy Dr. Laura D. Taylor-Kale and (Acting) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy Halimah Najieb-Locke, Hold an Off-Camera, On-The-Record Press Briefing on the National Defense Industrial Strategy

STAFF: Well, good morning, everyone. Appreciate your coming out today. I think most of you know me. I'm Jeff Jurgensen. I work over in OSD press operations.

This is a very, very important day for the Department of Defense, as we are here to announce the release of DOD's first ever National Defense Industrial Strategy. Our briefers today, to my left, Dr. Laura Taylor-Kale. She is the assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy; and to her left, Ms. Halimah Najieb-Locke, who is the acting principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy.

The senior leaders briefing this morning have been deeply, deeply engaged in leading the development of the strategy that we're here to discuss today. So before we open it up to your questions, I'll turn it over to our briefers for a few opening comments.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LAURA D. TAYLOR-KALE: Thank you for that introduction. First, I'd like to thank you all for being here. I think the Pentagon press corps has been very eager to hear more about this strategy, as I understand it, and I'm looking forward to this conversation today.

As the first ever Senate-confirmed assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy, it is my great pleasure to announce the publication of the department's first National Defense Industrial Strategy. And of course, we have to have an acronym, so we call it the NDIS.

The DOD has been involved in industrial policy for decades, going back to 1922 and the creation of the Army-Navy Joint Munitions Board that coordinated procurement between the two services. But this is the first time that we've really put pen to paper to map out a strategy and a vision to create a modernized, resilient, innovative defense industrial ecosystem.

Today America faces great threats to national security. Our adversaries are building up their military power to levels not seen since World War II. China's increasingly aggressive use of gray zone tactics across all elements of national power threatens to up-end existing international order.

The United States and its allies continue to supply Ukraine with weapons and munitions to fight against Russian aggression. We also now stand with Israel in its existential fight against Hamas.

We are implementing the National Defense Industrial Strategy now to ensure that our defense industrial base continues to be -- to both strengthen our national security here at home, while reassuring and supporting allies and partners in the direct path of adversarial influence and aggression.

This arsenal of democracy helped win both world wars and the Cold War, and long into the future it can and must provide that same enduring advantage in support of integrated deterrence.

It's important to note that America's economic security and national security are mutually reinforcing, and ultimately the nation's military strength depends in part on our overall economic strength. This NDIS seeks to answer the question, "How do we prioritize and optimize defense needs in a competitive environment undergirded by geopolitical, economic and technological challenges?"

We recognize that we have to address acute needs and the current challenges, while also planning for future scenarios and pacing threats. Accordingly, the NDIS will guide the department's engagement, policy development and investment in the industrial base over the next three to five years.

The current state of the industrial base is the result of decades of policy decisions and business decisions. It will not be changed in one or two years.

I also want to make clear that this NDIS is more than just an aspirational document. It outlines a strategic vision for what we need to meet our war fighters' needs. We are finalizing a detailed classified implementation plan with near-term, measurable actions and metrics to gauge progress.

It is important to note that DOD cannot address every industrial base issue alone. We need our partners, both inside and outside of DOD, to work with us to create this modernized defense industrial ecosystem.

Note that, while the detailed implementation plan will be classified, I commit to publishing, in the coming months, an unclassified overview of the implementation plan. The department's most senior leaders directed and guided development of this first ever NDIS as part of the effort to re-energize U.S. manufacturing and build the kind of modernized defense industrial ecosystem we need to enable our National Defense Strategy and to meet the global challenges our nation and our allies will confront.

We can no longer afford to wait. The time for action has come, and we're starting it with this strategy.

I'll now turn over to the acting principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy, Ms. Halimah Najieb-Locke, for her opening comments. And then we'll take your questions.



Thank you, ma'am.

Good morning, everyone. I'm delighted to be here today for this historic announcement of the first ever National Defense Industrial Strategy. We've made it.

While I'm currently serving as the acting principal deputy secretary of defense for industrial base policy, my day job is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial base resilience. And my team is responsible for the researching, drafting, staffing, coordinating of edits, creating the final strategy that we have here today. And I'm very thankful for them and proud of them.

They're currently working on both the unclassified and classified version of the implementation plan that the assistant secretary noted. And here with us today is Ms. Danielle Miller, to my right, who is serving as the acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial resilience. And her team is really responsible for the strategy development, and I'd like to acknowledge her and the team and thank her and her team for all their dedication and hard work.

We started the National Defense Industrial Strategy drafting in March of 2023 at the direction of Dr. Kathleen Hicks, our deputy secretary of defense. And since then the team has truly been working hard to coordinate across the department and the interagency this document to represent the over 1,000 comments that we've received and the suggestions that have ultimately led to what we have here today as the final product.

We've briefed the strategy to key stakeholders in industry; staffers and members of Congress; and other external stakeholders such as associations. So this is really a reflective document of deep collaboration across the defense enterprise.

The NDIS is grounded in the National Defense Strategy, with a special emphasis on integrated deterrence and building that resilient ecosystem. The team also reflected the Biden-Harris administration's focus on securing and reinvigorating our defense supply chains by incorporating the presidential direction and guidance from Executive Order 14017 on America's Supply Chains.

We synchronized this strategy with Small Business Strategy and the Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Strategy, as well as other key components that have been published across the department. And as the Assistant Secretary noted, this is more than an aspirational document.

My team is working currently across the interagency to develop the detailed implementation plan, and we hope to publish the unclassified version in February, with the classified version following some time in March.

So the plan is going to focus on actualizing the four strategic priorities laid out in this strategy, along with more than two dozen discreet, specific actions and associated outcomes and illustrative outputs that we've detailed in the plan.

So I'm looking forward to implementing the NDIS and really working with the industrial base because now is the time to build a modernized industrial base, and our industrial ecosystem is tied to our national security.

Now, I'll turn it back over to Jeff, who will handle the questions and answers from you all. Thank you.

STAFF: Great, and thank you both very much. So normal rules apply this morning. One question and one follow-up if you please. We actually have more people on the Zoom call than we have here in the room, but let's start in the room. Mike, Reuters, you want to go first?

Q: Sure. Mike from Reuters. Thank you for coming down and briefing on this. Obviously, the thing that you're going to get the most questions on is the tax incentives, tax relief for industry, which many Americans would believe is already well fed.

Can you help the taxpayer understand what language and what incentives you've put forth in order to get what action from industry specifically? There's any capability that you'd like to underwrite and provide tax breaks for or is it across the board percentage? What's the legislative language for the tax code that you try and put forward?

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: You know, as I noted in the beginning, the NDIS is meant to really outline the strategic vision. And we think that it's important for -- going forward, as we particularly - as we work on the implementation plan, that the administration, working with Congress, really explore all avenues that are possible, but we haven't developed any specifics now as it -- specifically with respect to tax incentives.

You want to add to that?

MS. NAJIEB-LOCKE (?): Absolutely. And so we are working across the interagency. We of course are leveraging the department authorities, in consultation and collaboration with the interagency partners. So when we are looking at the focus on resilient supply chains in the NDIS, that's reflective of the work of five priority areas that we have long said is our -- our focus, which are microelectronics, energy storage and batteries, critical minerals and strategic materials, kinetic capabilities, and castings and forgings.

And so we are a part of a larger industrial base, and so we'll be working with the efforts of our colleagues, such as in the Department of Energy, where they're implementing the Inflation Reduction Act and the infrastructure law and other authorities that do leverage tax incentives.

And so we'll be the beneficiary of those but we know we're a smaller part of the market, and so we're really, as the Assistant Secretary said, focused on the modern industrial base and working collaboratively with our partners.

STAFF: Great. Anybody else here? Brandi?

Q: Thank you, and thank you both so much for doing this. You mentioned that the implementation plan is slated for February. I'm hearing that's also when the Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Strategy is possibly slated as well. Can you talk a little bit about is your team also working on that strategy? And what are the -- the one that you released today has quite an emphasis on sort of securing -- cybersecuring the supply chain. So how is that going to go further? And just is there anything about cyber in the implementation plan that we should also know about?

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: Sure. First, I want to just note that the classified implementation plan will be finished in March, and we hope to publish the unclassified implementation plan in February.

So, we work closely with the DOD CIO and, you know, certainly any aspects on cybersecurity and the effects on the industrial base, they are working on their own in -- in getting that out. So it's not part and parcel with this, it's not directly connected, but we do reference the DOD Cybersecurity Strategy -- DIB Cybersecurity Strategy that is coming out as important for full implementation.

MS. NAJIEB-LOCKE: Yes, ma'am. And just to add to that, we are certainly coordinating and closely making sure that they're aligned because that strategy is going to be integral in how we implement this strategy. When you're looking at the resilient supply chains and the flexible acquisitions, you're looking really at how we're going to create an environment where our DIB is cyber ready and cyber secure.

And given the emphasis on increasing our commercial, off-the-shelf purchasing that is present in this strategy, that means we're going to have to work with industry to make sure they're securing their intellectual property. How do we increase our data rights?

And as technology advances, we have to keep up with those advances and also think through what are the incursions that are present in the cyber environment. So that's going to be part and parcel to our approach in how we prioritize our actions so that they're not disparate actions but in fact following on to the other.

Q: Awesome. And then one more follow-up on technology. There was repeated emphasis on using more data analytics and artificial intelligence to increase visibility in the supply chain. I was wondering if that is going to be, like, new efforts on building on existing efforts already within DOD? And does the Chief Digital and A.I. Office play a role in that, in terms of how you're envisioning it?

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: So the really interesting thing about working on this strategy over these months is we've also been pooling together a lot of the efforts that the DOD has already been working on. So Ms. Miller's team has been working on a supply chain mapping model, which we - the White House announced at the end of November, looking at 110 different weapons systems.

There's been work in the department, again, at the direction of the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary, for us to really understand what the supply chains look like at various levels and using data analytics and tools in order to do that.

So, you know, part of this strategy is really marshaling a lot of what we've already been doing within the department, and again, providing that strategic vision and overlay for what we need going forward.

MS. NAJIEB-LOCKE: Absolutely. So part of that mapping that the Assistant Secretary mentioned is getting down into the sub-tier level of our supply chains, understanding where there are vulnerabilities, such as single sources of failures, other chokepoints that we know are present in all supply chains, both on the commercial and defense side, and thinking through targeted mitigation efforts. But in order to target those mitigation efforts in specific supply chains for weapons systems, we must know who is in our supply chains.

So that's a part of the economic deterrence. You know, we're thinking through if there are exposures in our supply chain either unintentionally because we have over-relied on one supplier or one type of obsolete part, or inadvertently, because we just did not realize the chain of source material, raw material that goes into a part or component. We have to, one, have that visibility in order to martial a strategy of attack to overcome that. And so that's where we're going to be working with the industrial base, and particularly, utilizing advanced manufacturing techniques which have been used in a number of examples to overcome obsolescence, overcome constraints and really move us forward into that technologically-advanced and modern industrial base that we envision.

STAFF: Great. How about we go online? Tony Bertuca, Inside Defense, can you hear me?

Q: Yes, yes, thank you very much. Appreciate you chatting with us today about this.

One of the -- the reactions I got from people who were reading early drafts of this was, you know, it calls for generational change to catalyze transformation, and somebody said, "Well, I don't hear them calling for generational investment." Does this strategy mean more money for these things, or does it mean something else?

MS. NAJIEB-LOCKE: Thank you, Tony. We have spent a lot of time with our -- our stakeholders from industry, from Congress, the interagency and across the board to really understand, what would change look like and what would be necessary in order to create this modern defense industrial base and industrial ecosystem.

You know, the scope for the strategy that we had was really large. It reflects not one specific sector or industry, nor is it theater-specific. So we had to think about the acute challenges of today, as well think about the pacing threats and challenges and scenarios.

So the way we've laid it out is we grounded it, really, in understanding how we got here. What did -- what did we learn from COVID and the industrial base's incredible response for the American people and for warfighters? What we've learned from Ukraine as a result, as well. And so really taking all of that information and pulling it together to understand, what is it that we need in order to move forward? And really understanding that there needs to be - you know, much more investment in the industrial base, and we do actually call for that in the document. And we are leaving it up to the department, as well as our key stakeholders on the Hill and in the interagency as we work through the implementation and plan to come up with specifics for metrics and milestones.

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: Yes. And just to add to that, Tony, one thing that we're focused on -- on the investment side is continuing the use of tools such as the Defense Production Act, the Industrial Base Analysis Sustainment Program, which to date has invested more than $1 billion in our industrial base and in things such as rare earth elements, microelectronics, thermoplastics, metals like titanium. So we're really trying to continue that effort by streamlining the entire defense budget to industrial mobilization, where we see those main vulnerabilities.

And so as we have our visibility and mapping efforts ongoing, we're able to work with the services and marshal the entire defense budget where possible, where we have programs of record to say, how are we overcoming this? How are we using acquisition strategies that actually target areas of concern that industry has? And how are we things such as multiyear procurements, advance procurements, purchase commitments?

There are a number of tools and flexible acquisition strategies that we can employ to really drive investment into this area in a way that before now has been disparate, and so you can't feel the impact. So we're answering the industry's call for consistent demand signal by organizing ourselves and targeting our efforts.

STAFF: Why don't we go to Howard, War Zone?

Q: Yeah, thanks, appreciate it. So I just wanted to drill down a little bit on some of the chokepoints and -- and signal points of failure. When -- when -- you talk about the JPAC contributing $2 billion to investments in weapons and industrial base. What has -- what has been -- how has that been spent? And what are the biggest concerns you see in -- in the supply chain? And then at the moment, what's the capacity of the U.S. to supply both Ukraine and Israel? And what are the weapons that are most difficult to provide, given the U.S. requirements and -- and existing supply chain concerns?

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: Yes, understood. And so you referenced the JPAC, which is, for those that are here, the Joint Production Acceleration Cell, and that's underneath the, you know, acquisition and sustainment framework under Dr. LaPlante's organization.

We work in concert to really understand their visibility and where they are seeing force systems such as 155, Javelins, GMLRs -- all the things that we know when it is in response to Ukraine that we have had manufacturing chokepoints, right? It's really about our ability to surge capacity.

And so in working with the congressional leaders that have luckily given us supplemental funds, we've been able to overcome some of those obsolescence issues, restart certain lines of focus. Within my office, we've truly targeted investments in solid rocket motors that are very relevant for the fights of today, as well as the fights of the future.

And so this strategy is about balancing the tension points of maintaining and sustaining, and often times, thinking through how we're going to repair existing parts, how we're going to replenish parts that we are -- pulled from our stocks to give to our allies and partners to make sure that we keep our own steady state as necessary, but also, preparing for different theaters, thinking through over their opportunity space to invest in the technologies of the future that are going to enable more advanced weapon systems. And so we know that we have a nuclear arsenal to protect and thinking about the submarine industrial base. You're thinking about Virginia, Columbia class. A lot of those raw materials on the castings and forgings or their advanced metals, the specialty metals that are used are present in the systems that are used in Ukraine, as well as the systems that are used in the commercial space and market.

And so with those tension points of the supply chain, we have to think through, what are the capacities? And what are really the investing strategies that industry is employing? And how can we be force multiplier by, perhaps, coming to the table with standard-setting bodies of working with our allies and partners, and how we really think through interoperability, interchangeability where we see those very acute chokepoints in the supply chain. And I think that the president's focus on friend-shoring and allied shoring, in addition to congressional authorities that have been given to the department to further those efforts are indicative of what we need to do to make sure that we are postured to succeed if called upon for a time of war.

STAFF: Let's do one more from the phone. Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg?

Q: Hi. Thanks for doing this. A couple questions on the implementation plan. That's going to be of high interest. A, how will it be released? And two, if I'm a company CFO or a venture capitalist looking to get into DOD or a non-defense company looking to -- to get into DOD, what are the parts of the implementation plan I'm going to most want to focus on? And broadly, what are some of the categories?

And then I had a follow-up.

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: All right, thank you -- thank you, Tony. It's -- I'll be really quick on how it'll be released. So the classified implementation plan will really reflect a lot of the authorities that we have within A&S, and particularly within industrial base policy. We plan to focus on, you know, the Defense Production Act and IBAS as two important tools and authorities that we have.

Honestly, we under-utilize. As much as we have used and really expanded investments using the Defense Production Act over the last few years, we've really only used a quarter of the authorities, really looking at the authorities.

So our goal with the implementation plan, particularly the public-facing one, will really outline some of the key areas that are important and that we, within A&S, within Industrial Base Policy, have control over, looking at, for instance, critical minerals and strategic materials, where we've already done a number of key investments. Since the beginning of the administration, we've done almost $1 billion just in critical minerals and strategic materials.

And we will obviously, just as the DASD noted, will continue working in these areas because of its importance for supply chain resilience and some of the chokepoints that Howard noted earlier.

So part of the -- your second question, Tony, was really, you know, how do -- how do non-traditional defense companies get into working with the Defense Department? We, as you note in the strategy, talk about the importance of non-traditional companies working -- working in defense and being part of this modernized defense industrial ecosystem.

You know, part of it is, as we've learned from, you know, the recent years, the recent challenges, particularly with COVID, there are companies that are sometimes working with us and that are part of our supply chains that may not even know that they're actually working for defense contractors, they're working for the Defense Department.

And then the other aspect of it is, you know, the importance of innovation that's coming from our traditional companies and our primes but also from companies outside of the defense ecosystem. We want to be able to, at the end of the day, provide our warfighters with the innovative capabilities that they need at speed, at scale, and at cost. And we think it's important to be -- for companies to be able to come into the defense industrial base.

So within Industrial Base Policy, you probably already know we have the Office of Small Business Programs. They have a number of tools and programs that are used in order to bring companies into the industrial base. We will see over the coming months, as part of the implementation, we'll see more emphasis on this area, not just in small business but all kinds of different companies who are not traditionally part of the defense industrial base.


Q: -- quick question on stockpiles?

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: You want to add to that?

MS. NAJIEB-LOCKE: Ma'am, the only thing I would add in -- is some of the actions laid out in this strategy are indicative of what you will see with the implementation plan. So the intention of the implementation plan is to create a prioritized list of tasks to actualize this strategy, right? We have to, again, organize, and we have a metric and mechanism and methodology in which we're going to be harnessing focus of the department to buy down the risk that we've identified.

And so in addition to broadening the players at the sub-tier level, right, which is a change of acquisition strategies, using buying activities to increase commercial, off-the-shelf purchasing, which is going to send a signal to industry that we care about this, we need to outright tell them, right, information sharing.

And so a part of the implementation plan is really going to focus on setting up more public-private partnerships, thinking through some of the risk mechanisms and the way that the federal government can work with industry to say "if you are, you know, a part of co-funding, right, an element that we've invested in, we've put some capital, and if you come along, we will bear the burden of the risk, right, we will -- we work to leverage our indemnification elements, where feasible and where appropriate."

And so that's really -- when you think about the investment market, my understanding talking to the capital markets, they're really keen to understand what we care about and how they can protect their investments from perhaps market fluctuations, particularly in an environment where you see a lot of our adversaries really using economic incursions.

And so we're going to use the full force of our authorities, thinking through investment screening, like CFIUS, when you're thinking about those tools to make sure we wall off, with technology investment agreements, the technology that we care about keeping access to domestically from investors of concern, entities of concern.

And so how we're going to increase that through implementable task that include consortium-based approaches. How are we using our consortiums? How are we working with the universities and the national labs and working with industry to pull them more into that part of the defense ecosystem?

I think we do it but now we have to do it in a strategic manner, which is what the NDIS is about achieving so that the investors know -- know when we say we care about microelectronics and we care about critical materials, that's because we are experiencing material shortfalls and we need you to come along with us.

And we will do what we can to do feasibility studies on critical minerals so that we can prove out -- and it's bankable that this -- in fact, the material is there in the mine as said and the investor community can take it from there and invest in separation technologies that are advanced and looking at that, just taking critical minerals as an example.

So that's one example that we will highlight. There are others in the NDIS implementation plan that will be analogous to that, as far as discreet tasks.

Q: Very thorough answer. Thank you.

STAFF: Why don't we come back to the room here. Noah.

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: I just wanted to add something.

STAFF: Please, go ahead.

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: You know -- and with respect to the implementation plan because I again, I do think this is really important and it's something that department leadership has emphasized as, you know, part of the key elements of it. Think of this as the beginning and sort of the you know, the outline, you know, the strategic vision, and the implementation plan being the other key aspect of it.

We spent months of doing extensive socialization and consultation with industry, with key stakeholders in conversation. Our teams, particularly Ms. Miller's team, have been researching and gathering information of using the very data-driven approaches in order to do that over the last several years. We'll continue to do so in the next weeks and months. As we finalize the implementation plan, industry will certainly be consulted and engaged in that process.

So I want to emphasize that we're not just sitting in our little corners in our -- in the Pentagon, coming up with these ideas in a vacuum. We're doing this really in partnership and in consultation with our stakeholders within government and outside of government, and particularly with industry.

And we're really thankful for all of the feedback that we receive from industry and our partners, both domestically and internationally, as well as from the Hill.

Sorry, I wanted to -- I wanted to emphasize that.

Q: Two questions. The first, there are two horizons sketched out in NDIS itself. One is generational; one is the next three to five years. I'm wondering, because it's mentioned that getting here has been a generational change, how much can be done in that horizon of the next three to five years, compared to a generation of getting out?

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: Well, here I'll turn to DASD Najieb-Locke in a second to talk about some of the work that we've already been doing, and particularly over the last year.

I think it's important to note that, just like we had this tension between really addressing the current and acute challenges as well as future threats and scenarios, we think it's important to be doing both, that we really, as a department, as a nation, in order to have the kind of system that we need in order to really support our war fighters, we really have to, you know, address the current and acute challenges, as well as the future threats and scenarios.

So, as we've noted earlier, I've noted, particularly within industrial base policy, we've been ‘marshallizing’ our resources, particularly with the Defense Production Act and IBAS. The department has been focused on the submarine industrial base. There is more that we are doing, and you will see us, you know, doing a much better job of communicating what we're doing and how that ties in and feeds into the strategic vision.

MS. NAJIEB-LOCKE: So one of the true focus areas, when you're looking at the three-to-five-year timeline, is how to overcome the long lead times associated at the part and component level of our weapon systems.

And that's going to take a lot of focus, one, identification, where there are choke-points and obsolescence to come, right, if a company intends to stop producing a particular component because it's just not profitable; it's not something that there are enough customers that they can justify that, we need to know ahead of time so that we can re-engineer and think through how do we buy the part that's going to be what industry's going to make?


MS. NAJIEB-LOCKE: And so that's part of marshalling what the interagency is doing and what we're a part of, that the president has laid out and Congress has really been integral in funding, of, as we create the domestic capacity, we have to make sure we partner that with creating the buying activities. Because, if we invest in something and then we're still buying the old things or looking for the old things to buy, instead of re-engineering, we're not postured for success.

So the three-to-five-year timeline is posturing ourselves for success, to take advantage of the investments we're making today, which are generational, right, because, when we get to the end of that five years, we're going to have an entirely different industrial ecosystem. And our allies and partners are a part of that.

As they think through their sectors of industry that they want to bolster, we're going to take good advantage of that to say, "Great, we are going to serve as another customer base for their industry in the same way that they will serve for ours," or we're going to pivot some of the obsolescence issues to next-generation technology that is ultimately going to make the war fighter and our weapon systems more lethal.

Q: The second question I had is about the earlier draft of this document, which was leaked, and read fairly widely. And one of the assessments in there said that, in reference to weapon systems that the technological acumen -- and I'm quoting here -- "is not matched by our capacity to produce those capabilities at speed and scale. This mismatch presents a growing strategic risk." I didn't see that language in the final version, and I'm wondering perhaps why the change, and if that is still the department's assessment.

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: Well, thank you for that question. So you know, the strategy, the development of the strategy reflected -- reflects months and months of coordination and work across the department. We've, again, as I've noted earlier, we've socialized it with our many industry partners and key stakeholders. You know, we -- again, it's comprehensive and ambitious. But again, at this point, this is the final version of the document and don't have any further comments on previous versions that, you know, you may have seen.

STAFF: Let’s stay in the room here. Ryo, you had your hand up.

Q: Thank you very much for doing this.


Q: Two questions. First, can you -- how do you characterize the current state of the Chinese defense industrial base, compared with the U.S.? Do you assess that China is well ahead of the U.S.?

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: Well, thank you first of all, thank you for the question. As -- as the National Defense Strategy notes, you know, China being an important and key competitor and part of the -- the pacing scenario and threat in the Indo-Pacific. You know, we're really focused on the health and strength and resilience of the U.S. industrial base and the defense industrial base, as well as that of our partners and allies, and how we are working to really sustain and bolster it, as well as meet future needs and threats as -- in order to work with -- help our -- our warfighters meet the pacing threat, so that's how I would describe it.

MS. NAJIEB-LOCKE: Absolutely. And truly, the assessment is of the global supply chain that this strategy represents, and of course, we know that China is a source of a number of key components in that global industrial base. And so we assess all of our allies, partners and strategic competitors as a part of -- of a whole approach, where we're really thinking through the manufacturing process.

Let's be clear: The U.S. is still the design leader in many of these areas. And so what we have identified is opportunities to diversify our supply chains on the manufacturing side, taking into account workforce readiness, right, and the very real reality that we have technology that can be deployed that we just haven't taken advantage of for our warfighter. And so that's what we're really trying to do with this strategy, is take advantage of the U.S. dominance in design to improve our weapons systems.

STAFF: Okay, we have time for just one more. I want to be fair to the folks who are dialed in, so I'm going to go back to the Zoom call. Jared, Federal News, are you on?

Q: I am, thanks. And real -- real quickly, back on the implementation plan, you -- you talked about all the engagement that's gone on and -- and that you're going to do more as the (i-plan ?) is drafted. Beyond that, how do you make sure that's not your last public engagement on this? What -- what's the plan to continually keep folks updated on who's doing what, what kind of progress you've made?

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: Jared, thank you for that question. You gave me an opportunity to talk a bit more about the Office of Industrial Base Policy.

So -- so I want to note that in the stand-up of the Senate-confirmed assistant secretary for industrial base policy in that office, we also created an Office of Industry Engagement, and Mr. Justin McFarlin is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for overseeing that group.

We – it is part of our responsibility to engage directly with industry and with our stakeholders outside of the department. I actually see that as a core part of my responsibilities and job, as well as our team in the Office of Industry Engagement, and frankly, across industrial base policy.

So there -- it's -- we're not going to, you know, come out of our offices, so to speak, talk to people, and then go back in and shut the door. We're continuing the conversation. It is part of the sort of the fabric of what we are as an organization and how we view our work in building up the resilience and working -- of the industrial base and working with the industrial base.

So short answer to your question: It will be -- not be the last engagement. We have regular engagements with industry, with the industry associations, as well as ad hoc meetings and -- and engagements at all levels. So at my level, at Justin’s level, with our staff below us, as well as the undersecretary, and then other department leaders.

So for implementing the engagement plan once it's created and once it's finished, we will continue to be a close partner and work with our partners and allies in industry and with -- overseas as well. So I want to emphasize that because it is very important for us in industrial base policy for acquisition and sustainment that we maintain that -- that close connection and continue to work with industry to really implement and understand needs.

MS. NAJIEB-LOCKE: Yes. And just to add to that, the implementation plan is really focused on measures of success. So we have metrics. We have milestones. So we're going to be assessing how we're meeting those milestones and retooling our approach as appropriate to a- -- again, achieve the two dozen discrete actions laid out in the strategy.

And so we do have a -- a mechanism to stress-test whether we're successful or not in getting the real-time feedback from industry through the continued engagement, as well as really looking at other opportunities to engage and plan, thinking through tabletop exercise, economic wargames, right? When you're looking at the economic deterrence, Ms. Nicoletta Giordani, who's also in the room, already led a delegation to work with NATO to focus on what our allies and partners are focused on as far as their constraints in supply chains and understanding that so we can see where our authorities, our legal authorities match, where they're complementary, right? That's how we work through the tabletop exercises using CFIUS, of how our foreign investment-screening authorities line up and where we can educate ourselves on what our allies and partners are doing. That's going to be a part of the metric of success because again, these are global supply chains. And so we -- we know we do not fight alone and we will not win alone, and so we're acknowledging that in the industrial base, as well.

STAFF: And with that, we are out of time. Obviously, this is a subject we'll be talking about extensively going forward. I appreciate everybody coming out today, and if you have any follow-up questions, just reach out to me, you know at OSD Press Ops. So thanks very much. Appreciate your coming out.

DR. TAYLOR-KALE: Thank you.

MS. NAJIEB-LOCKE: Thank you.