Tag Archives: Adversarial Capital

COVID – 19 Adversarial Capital Threat to Defense Industry Small Business

Standard
Image: Investors Business Daily

FCW

“Adversarial capital” is the latest buzz phrase used to describe the security problem that can occur when foreign rivals, especially China, take advantage of the relatively open U.S. investment marketplace.

“We simply cannot afford this period of economic uncertainty to lead to loss of American know-how on critical technologies,” – Jennifer Santos, DOD’s deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy.”

______________________________________________________________________________

“The Defense Department is hoping steadily engaging small businesses will help shield them from shady foreign investments during the global COVID-19 crisis.

[At risk are] nascent technology firms whose work may have security applications but don’t yet fall under the aegis of the cross-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

“We simply cannot afford this period of economic uncertainty to lead to loss of American know-how on critical technologies,” Santos said during an April 28 webinar on coronavirus supply chain challenges hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Additionally, DOD has been hosting teleconferences multiple times per week with industry trade associations and continued to host virtual Trusted Capital Marketplace events to help ensure companies have access to “clean capital” and avoid foreign investment conflicts.

Ellen Lord, DOD’s acquisition chief, warned in March that the defense industry base, their technology, and intellectual property were vulnerable to “nefarious” foreign investors.

As the coronavirus pandemic worsened, DOD has struggled with multiple plant closures — 93 out of 10,509 prime companies with 141 that closed and reopened and 427 out of 11,413 vendors, with 237 that have closed and reopened. Those closures have significantly affected aviation, shipbuilding and small space launch supply chains.

Santos said several companies in Mexico have “impacted our major primes” and DOD is working to identify those companies and work with the Mexican government supporting various technologies, including airframe production.

But foreign investment remains one of the more pressing priorities in defense acquisition, Santos said, adding that suspicious transactions in vulnerable areas are mitigated or blocked if a risk is found regardless of the pandemic.

That is an acute problem for small manufacturers, Lord said.

“Typically the most problematic areas we have now are some of the smaller manufacturers who, maybe from a dollar value, don’t do huge numbers but they are providing critical components across aircraft and naval applications. That’s where my biggest concern is; sort of the weakest link in the system,” Lord told reporters April 30.

The acquisition chief also worried some smaller companies “might end up with some significant financial fragility” and is looking across interagency and in the Trusted Capital Marketplace, a partnership that links private investors with defense companies, to keep those with “critical technology, talent, and facilities together with those investors.”

Lord’s concern extends overseas, as well, particularly in Europe, regarding what Lord called “nefarious” mergers and acquisition, where shell companies have known U.S. adversaries as beneficial owners. To protect against that, the Pentagon wants stronger foreign legislation from Congress to make the CFIUS process more stringent, Lord said.

In addition to pursuing stronger legislation, DOD has bolstered and expanded national security investment reviews, which can take 45 days and are reviewed by the Director of National Intelligence, and increased engagement with businesses using the newly stood up industrial base council.

Santos said the council helps address the industry base’s existing gaps and risks by aligning their priorities with DOD’s, identifying authorities that can be used to solve any issues, and drawing up policy as needed.

“We need to protect our industrial base from what could be adversarial capital and during COVID, we maintain the same due diligence,” Santos said, “It’s what keeps me up at night most nights.”

https://fcw.com/articles/2020/05/04/dod-adversarial-capital-williams.aspx?oly_enc_id=

“Adversarial Capital” Threatens Small Business Industrial Base

Standard
Image: “Investors Business Daily”

FCW

“The Defense Department is concerned that foreign investment will take advantage of small businesses in the defense industrial base reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The defense industrial base, which consists of more than 300,000 companies, is “vulnerable to adversarial capital,” and DOD wants them to “stay in business without losing their technology” or be subject to intellectual property theft.

________________________________________________________________________

“Ellen Lord, DOD’s top acquisition executive: “The foreign investment issue is something that I have been tracking for the last couple years. There is no question that we have adversarial capital coming into our markets through nefarious means,” Lord said.

“So what we are doing, on the defense side, looking at [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States], on the offensive side, we’re looking at our Trusted Capital mechanisms.”

DOD has been conducting periodic Trusted Capital Marketplace virtual events to pre-empt CFIUS concerns and ensure companies’ access to “clean capital.”

Lord said the global outbreak of COVID-19 has created instability and uncertainty, especially for small businesses that aren’t sure if government contracts will continue.

“I think it presents a greater attack surface as there is greater uncertainty, especially to small businesses as to whether their contract will continue,” Lord said. “So we want to basically mitigate that uncertainty.”

DOD under the Trump administration has been pushing for more domestic manufacturing and reducing foreign investments, namely with drone production. It has also been adamant about finding U.S.-based solutions for telecommunications services and hardware production, barring the use of Huawei and ZTE products because those companies have ties to the Chinese government and military.

These moves, especially as the global health crisis persists, could have broader implications and shrink direct foreign investment up 15%, according to a United Nations report.

The Defense Department has also created a new task force to synchronize its COVID-19 efforts led by Stacy Cummings, the principal deputy assistant defense secretary and leader of the Acquisition Enablers office.

The Joint Acquisition Task Force will coordinate with military services and agencies’ acquisition resources and field requests from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Departments of Health and Human Services and  Homeland Security and other federal agencies for medical resources and personal protective equipment.

The task force aims to identify weak points in workforce and industrial capability and ultimately reduce companies’ reliance on foreign supply sources. It will also direct use of Defense Production Act authorities, which include being able to use economic incentives and priority-rate defense contracts to best serve the need of troops in the field and team with industry to boost commercial capabilities.”

https://fcw.com/articles/2020/03/25/defense-china-cfius-corona-lord.aspx?oly_enc_id=