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Author: Honorable Alan R. Shaffer, Member Board of Regents

The United States no longer has the manufacturing capability or access to materials needed for continued economic growth and prosperity for our people. The United States is entering a period of increased national security risk due to lack of access to specific goods and products. One specific industrial sector—microelectronics—is emblematic of the issue. A similar argument could be posed concerning other sectors, like pharmaceuticals and certain raw minerals. But technologies that underpin the development of microelectronics, to include transistors, computers, digital programming, and others,1 were transformative technologies in which the United States dominated throughout the 20th Century. The United States was able to both develop and manufacture products that sprang from them, and to dominate in microelectronics design and manufacture. As the global economy became more entrenched in the 21st Century, manufacture and accessibility moved from the United States to other nations. This has led to a situation where both the economic and national security is vulnerable due to supply chains that extend to global competitors. Using the semiconductor industry as the example of where supply chains have created vulnerabilities, we call for a new approach to national security by ensuring that critical industries can provide assured access.

 

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