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Ernst’s Effort to End the Military’s Dependence on Foreign Adversaries for Energy Added to Senate NDAA

U.S. military operations in the Indo-Pacific depend on fuel from countries susceptible to coercion from China, Iran, and Russia.

WASHINGTON – Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, successfully included her initiative to stop the Department of Defense (DoD) from procuring energy from foreign adversaries and entities of concern, specifically North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China, in the Senate’s FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill passed through the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.

Historically, the DoD has purchased fuel for Indo-Pacific operations from refineries in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore – areas that are vulnerable to attacks or coercion from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The same countries also have records of purchasing crude oil from Iran and Russia.

“A military conflict with Iran or China could have disastrous impacts on our military readiness and mobility due to fuel shortages. The Pentagon must ensure that our military’s supply chains do not involve and are not susceptible to our foreign adversaries, and that, in the event of conflict, we can source energy domestically or from our allies and partners,” said Senator Ernst.

Ernst’s provision requires the DoD to review their energy procurement policies to ensure the United States does not purchase oil indirectly from foreign adversaries or vulnerable nations, and to look at the feasibility of sourcing energy to U.S. operations in the Pacific from the continental U.S., NATO-states, or other major non-NATO allies.

Currently, the Defense Secretary is required to review a list of special considerations when developing the Department’s energy plan. This effort would add the following considerations to be reviewed:

  • The reliability and security of energy resources in the event of a military conflict.
  • The value of resourcing energy from NATO allies and other major U.S. partners.

It also would require the DoD to submit a report to Congress on the feasibility of ending energy sourcing from foreign entities of concern (defined by the DoD as North Korea, Iran, Russia and China), including:

  • An assessment of DoD’s reliance on foreign entities of concern for energy procurement.
  • An identification of the number of energy contracts between the DoD and a foreign entity of concern or companies headquartered in a country that is a foreign entity of concern.
  • Any proposals the DoD may have for ending the resourcing of energy from these entities and instead reconfiguring such resourcing from NATO allies or other major U.S. partners.