Defense Dept. runs race for raw materials

Oct 01, 2010 | 08:19 AM | Tom Jennemann

The U.S. metal stockpile policy is on the verge of its biggest overhaul in the past 15 years amid increasing trepidation about the country's dependence on foreign producers.

DLA Strategic Materials, formerly the Defense National Stockpile Center, was created in 1939 to prepare for World War II. At the end of the Cold War, however, the government agency moved from buying metals and commodities to selling off its massive surpluses. DLA commodity sales have totaled about $7 billion since 1994, and the market value of the remaining stockpile is around $1.6 billion.

But there has been a growing chorus in recent years that the current stockpile system is outdated and inefficient. In 2006, Congress expressed concern that global demand for several defense-specific raw materials had escalated due to industrial surges in China, India, Russia and Brazil, and it formed a working group to reconfigure the DLA's strategic materials security program to ensure greater flexibility and the availability of important materials.....

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