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Special Report: US seeks defence industrial resilience through production diplomacy

MQ-28A Ghost Bat in flight. The Ghost Bat is a collaborative programme between Australia and Boeing. (Australian Department of Defence)

Production diplomacy is an old concept that has been given new life as the United States learns lessons from the war in Ukraine and prepares for potential peer conflicts.

That approach calls for integrating the defence industrial bases of allies and partners and “provides opportunities to protect supply chains, strengthen alliances and partnerships, enhance deterrence, and build defence readiness”, according to the Atlantic Council issue brief, Production diplomacy for deterrence, readiness, and resilience in the Indo-Pacific , published in June.

The term was coined by US Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante in September 2023. The US National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS), published by the Pentagon in January 2024, defines production diplomacy as “a production strategy that emphasizes friend-shoring, on-shoring, and working with allies and partners to minimise reliance on products from adversaries”, Markus Garlauskas, director of the Indo-Pacific Security Initiative of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, said during a panel discussion on 28 June.

The NDIS calls for leveraging “networked production chains among allies and enabling us to build more resilient supply chains with like-minded partners while expanding production, innovation, and overall industrial capacity”, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy Vic Ramdass said during the panel discussion.

“Production diplomacy supplements our investments to build upon our industrial base here at home as well as abroad,” he added. Closer co-operation on defence industrial challenges with allies and partners is “a top priority for our leadership”, according to Ramdass.

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