Wittman warns of ‘wasting a year’ with Pentagon’s industrial strategy

Wittman warns of ‘wasting a year’ with Pentagon’s  industrial strategy

A top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee said that the Pentagon’s plan to implement a new strategy for the defense industry may not make it into Congress’ defense bill this year due to months of delay.

The Pentagon rolled out the strategy in January, saying the document would help sync its work with the defense industry while facing a surge in demand. The plan was mostly a list of two dozen recommendations — from increasing stockpiles to training more skilled workers.

A detailed plan on how to implement it would come in March, Pentagon officials said.

It hasn’t. And earlier this month, Laura Taylor-Kale, the Defense Department’s head of industrial base policy, said it would arrive in the summer.

That delay is a problem for members of Congress who want to include the plan in their annual defense policy bill.

“I would prefer to have the implementation plan for [the National Defense Industrial Strategy] now,” said Rob Wittman, R-Va, the vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, speaking at an event hosted by George Mason University.

Taylor-Kale was scheduled to speak alongside Wittman but canceled shortly before it began due to a separate commitment.

The House bill will come to the floor in the second week of June, Wittman said, which will be before lawmakers get the plan. That means the only chance the strategy makes it into legislation this year is if the Senate’s bill — arriving later — includes some of the recommended steps and then they make it into the version that both chambers eventually pass, a process known as conference.

Right now, Wittman said, that leaves members of Congress guessing how best to put the plan into action, and risking an approach different from the one the Pentagon wants.

“I would prefer to have had this upfront to inform our process with NDAA,” he said. “Apparently … that’s not going to happen. I think that’s a lost period of time that we need to do this.”

Noah Robertson is the Pentagon reporter at Defense News. He previously covered national security for the Christian Science Monitor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and government from the College of William & Mary in his hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia.

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