Statement on the National Defense Stockpile of Strategic and Critical Materials

March 13, 1981

I am today directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to begin the first purchase program for the national defense stockpile of strategic and critical materials in over 20 years. These purchases of strategic materials, estimated initially at $100 million, are a step to restructure the existing $15 billion stockpile in critical areas of deficiency.

It is now widely recognized that our nation is vulnerable to sudden shortages in basic raw materials that are necessary to our defense production base. Our vulnerabilities have been highlighted in a number of congressional hearings and panels concerning the industrial base. Thus, this overdue addition to our stockpile constitutes a necessary hedge against any supply disruptions.

In addition to strategic stockpiling, I am considering other measures to decrease the Nation's vulnerability, including ways to expand domestic capacity to produce strategic and critical materials. This acquisition program is a necessary first step. It is expected that larger purchases will be made as funds from sales of excess materials build up in the stockpile fund.