As part of a presidentially-mandated assessment into the supply chains of the defense industrial base, the Defense Department is seeking public comments to inform its review with a focus on four areas that include kinetic weapons, energy storage, microelectronics, and castings and forgings.

DoD selected the focus areas and related “systemic enablers” based on its ongoing analysis of defense supply chains and alignment with operational priorities in current planning guidance.

The request for comments, published in the Sept. 28 Federal Register, points out that key components such as critical energetics and microelectronics used in certain kinetic weapons such as precision guided munitions, hypersonics and directed energy, mostly come from foreign sources, “including adversarial nations.”

In the area of energy storage and batteries, DoD says that energy storage “is an evolving requirement” and points out that “Defense-unique requirements with low production volumes create supply chain risk and high local costs.”

For microelectronics, the DoD’s effort is focused on military-specific needs and challenges between commercial and defense requirements.

The notice also highlights that dependency of manufacturing on castings and forgings and that an increase in these capabilities will help boost domestic commercial manufacturing.

The systemic enablers relevant to the four focus areas include workforce, cybersecurity posture, interoperability among DoD systems and with U.S. allies, barriers to entry and sustained participation for small businesses, and manufacturing.

The enablers “are critical to mission success, and gaps or fragility in each can create operational and strategic risk,” DoD says.

In February, President Biden issued an executive order, America’s Supply Chains (E.O. 14017), requiring federal agencies, including DoD, to assess their supply chains to make them more resilient and to reduce vulnerabilities (Defense Daily, Feb. 24). The directive gives DoD one year to submit its report.

DoD is posing five questions to potential respondents as they consider the focus topics and systemic enablers. The questions include how globalization has impacted the ability to source DoD requirements, the biggest challenges a company faces with distributed supply chains, how the department can support a company’s efforts to reduce supply chain challenges, how does the government help reduce supply chain risks, and how the government can better address supply chain risks and vulnerabilities.

Responses are due by Oct. 13.

The various reviews are expected to lead to recommendations and actions to secure supply chains for the U.S. government and U.S. industries.