The United States' Vulnerability to Coercion by China in the Rare Earths Market
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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This thesis looks at the importation of rare earth elements, which are considered vital to the security of the United States and are used to manufacture products for the U.S. defense industry. The purpose of the thesis is to answer the primary research question Has the United States allowed itself to be placed in a position within the world economy that makes it vulnerable to coercion by another world actor, such as a foreign nation or super corporation To answer the research question it was first necessary to identify why rare earth elements are so critical to key strategic programs within the U.S. defense industry. Additional analysis of where the worlds rare earth element reserves are located and which nations are mining rare earth elements would identify weaknesses or strengths within the global supply chain. The supply chain through which the United States receives its rare earth elements and processed products was tracked and analyzed to identify any vulnerabilities. Once a possible vulnerability was identified, the research explored whether the U.S. Government had taken steps to mitigate the risk the vulnerability posed to the defense industry. The research revealed that there is a distinct vulnerability in the U.S. supply chain for rare earth elements a single source supplier that is not a U.S. ally -- China. Solutions to this problem are currently being addressed by both the U.S. Government and the defense industry. A second -- and possible third -- source of rare earth elements is currently on track to be operational by FY2013.
- Economics and Cost Analysis
- Government and Political Science
- Metallurgy and Metallography
- Manufacturing and Industrial Engineering and Control of Production Systems