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OPINION

Biden Administration Makes (Yet) Another Blunder With Our Military

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

For America to be a source for good in the world, it has to stay great, and it can’t stay great if the people in charge don’t act smart. 

The relative stability the Earth has enjoyed for the last 80 years is thanks to the power and benevolence of the American military. Just the merits of our Navy alone – large enough to defeat every other navy on the planet combined – has kept the waterways safe for international trade to blossom in ways that have enriched everyone. As Robert Kaplan wrote, the “undeniable fact of American power” has “protected the sea-lanes, the maritime choke points, and access to hydrocarbons, and in general provided some measure of security to the world.” 

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Or as even the Somalian pirate said in Captain Phillips, “Navy good. They protect us.”

But is even the US military strong enough to survive the Biden Administration? 

The current administration and a larger than should be constituency in Congress are hellbent on making our military as weak as possible. Our two greatest global adversaries getting bolder – as evident by Russia invading Ukraine and China sharpening their knives over Taiwan. While both are horrible for the people in question, the latter would be devastating for everyone as Taiwan produces two-thirds of the world’s semiconductors

And in trying to address that last fact, the Biden Administration and Congress are undermining our national defense even more. 

Snuck into the negotiated final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – section 802 in the House version and section 822 of the Senate’s – it would require commercial suppliers to the military to disclosure proprietary information about material sourcing and prices, which will force them to either violate their partnership agreements or risk false claim act penalties. 

When defense companies apply for contracts, they need to prove they can fulfill the military’s requirements within a proscribed budget. But if the government demands companies disclose privileged information about their supply chain, pricing model, and other logistics, they expose their business model to competitors. Going forward with this will push some companies out of the defense space, or even risk leaking technical information that should be kept secret. 

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When so much about the Arleigh Burke destroyer accessible on Wikipedia, perhaps it shouldn’t be even easier for our enemies to learn how our tech works? 

The compromise NDAA took a step in the right direction by giving the Pentagon discretion on when disclosures are required. The unfortunate consequence is that the way these requirements are enforced will then fluctuate with changing political winds – making the procurement process even more onerous than it already is. Increased disclosure demands would also restrict the entry of new commercial innovators – who would be less inclined to work with the government if their competitive information were made public for their other commercial competitors to see. 

Startups are important for fresh ideas, but they’re leaving the space: small businesses receiving DOD awards decreased by 43 percent from 2011 to 2020, according to a recent GAO report. Let’s not push even more of them out of the industry. 

At very worst, if the Federal government makes life too difficult for defense companies to do business, they will find work with other countries that do not. Chasing this entire industry away is even more troublesome than the problem of our offshored microchip production. 

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For the current Administration to continue undermining the military is neither good, great, nor smart. Who else will keep the sea-lanes safe for everyone, even Somalian pirates? 

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