(Headline USA) House Republicans and defense officials raised concerns during a hearing this week about the U.S. military’s dependence on China for important minerals.
A recent report found that the U.S. is almost completely dependent on China for antimony, a mineral used in a variety of military equipment, including night vision goggles, armor-piercing bullets, explosives and nuclear weapons.
Defense officials warned the House Armed Services Committee that unless the U.S. creates its own supply chain of minerals like antimony, the U.S. military will always be vulnerable.
“Today, there is a mismatch between what our national strategies aim to achieve and how our defense industrial base is postured,” David Norquist, president of the National Defense Industrial Association, said in his opening statement. “Key industrial readiness indicators for great power competition are going in the wrong direction.”
Large defense companies have communicated to the Pentagon their concerns about China’s domination in the natural minerals market. But as of yet, no concrete actions have been taken by the federal government to address this problem, they told lawmakers.
Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee agreed to investigate the U.S.’s antimony supplies and ask the Pentagon for a five-year risk outlook on other critical minerals used in weapons.
“It is completely unacceptable that we are so heavily reliant on China for those minerals as well as their processing,” Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., said.
Last year, the Pentagon proposed legislation to Congress to make the military less reliant on China.
The proposed legislation would raise spending caps under the Defense Production Act to enable government to spend up to $1.75 billion on rare earth elements in munitions and missiles and $350 million for microelectronics. It would also eliminate caps when it comes to hypersonic weapons.
Another bill introduced last year would force defense contractors to stop buying rare minerals from China by 2026.