No one knows how the U.S. military and its weapons suppliers will be affected by President Trump’s surprise tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, because no one seems to know how much foreign metal is in America’s weapons.
“I’ve asked because I’m interested,” Lockheed Martin CFO Bruce Tanner said March 5.
Defense executives like Tanner have worked for decades to craft to global supply chains and an industrial base that is intertwined with key allies. But with the approach of these unexpected tariffs, which are forecast to hurt American companies from beer brewers to automakers, numerous interviews and conversations with executives, employees, and industrial base experts indicate that the defense industry doesn’t know its own exposure.
And if the Pentagon does, it’s not saying. Speaking alongside representatives from the U.K., Canada, and Australia on Friday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Jerry McGinn, the principal deputy director of the Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy at the Pentagon, said the Pentagon provided “input on DoD demand” to a Commerce Department investigation, but declined to say how much foreign steel and aluminum was used in U.S. weapons.
“We look at materials and metals in our industrial base analysis all the time to understand [and] maintain that we have enough to support our major programs and systems,” McGinn said.
Trump justified the protectionist measures under international trade law by saying they were necessary for national security.
“DoD does not believe that the findings in the reports impact the ability of DoD programs to acquire the steel·or aluminum necessary to meet national defense requirements,” Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote in a letter to Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross. (end of excerpt)
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