The Defense Department has formed a working group to address supply chain resilience.

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The United States Defense Department has formed a supply chain resiliency working group to provide a framework for safeguarding supply chains across the department, according to a Pentagon announcement on Friday.

The statement is the latest in a series of steps to address supply chain threats and vulnerabilities identified during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are working to solve a problem that took 50 years to evolve,” Gregory Kausner, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, said in a statement.

“Effective implementation begins with understanding our vulnerabilities and the necessary responses, so we can focus our efforts to build greater resiliency across critical supply chains,” Kausner said.

In February, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling on all areas of government to strengthen resiliency of America’s supply chains. Key findings of a departmental reviews were announced in July.

The Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force made recommendations, including establishing a comprehensive strategy for supply chain mitigating risk, ensuring the Pentagon has visibility and understanding of supply chain vulnerabilities, reducing reliance on adversaries such as China and Russia, and forming partnerships with industry, academia and other entities.

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The Defense Department’s supply chain resiliency working group was established on Aug. 30 and will “address systemic barriers currently limiting supply chain visibility, conduct resiliency assessments and develop effective mitigation actions,” the Defense Department statement said.

The Office of Industrial Policy will lead the working group.

“The working group is a down payment on a long-term problem,” Jesse Salazar, deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy, said in the statement.

“It coalesces efforts from across the department and provides a mechanism to develop a framework and proactive strategy to change the way DoD does business, and better secure our supply chains,” Salazar said.

Officials have stated that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed supply chain vulnerabilities and challenges, with shortages of vital medical resources, and that extensive disruptions have been a continuing worry.

Because of the spread of COVID-19, the Pentagon predicted a three-month halt in equipment purchase, particularly in the areas of aviation supply chain, shipbuilding, and small space launches, in April.

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