More than 100 current and former national security professionals, including former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelAfghan interpreter who helped rescue Biden: 'If they find me, they will kill me' Afghan interpreter who helped extract Biden, other senators in 2008 asks president to save him Democrats defend Afghan withdrawal amid Taliban advance MORE, urged President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) and direct U.S. businesses to scale up production of critical medical supplies.
In a letter obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Hagel and dozens of other former top military brass and members of the national security community called such an action necessary to support hospitals across the country suffering from shortages of masks, ventilators and other supplies.
"The administration this week utilized the DPA on a narrow and limited basis, but America’s public health professionals — as well as doctors and industry workers — continue to sound the alarm, citing the increasingly urgent and dire need for ventilators, masks, testing supplies, and other resources," they wrote.
"Beyond questions of supply, the private sector lacks the ability to process incoming requests, prioritize the most urgent needs, and coordinate with other companies absent more concerted government involvement," the letter continues. "That is precisely what the DPA is designed to do."
Several of the signatories were top members of the Obama administration, including National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, and former United Nations Ambassador Samantha PowerSamantha PowerUS to purchase 500M more vaccine doses for world How Trump broke the system that offers protection to Afghan allies Aid airlift underway to earthquake-striken Haiti MORE.
Their letter concludes by arguing that using the DPA to expand production of medical supplies is necessary to prevent further deaths from the coronavirus outbreak, which has sickened tens of thousands of Americans.
"If the ultimate objective is to save American lives, there is no alternative to utilizing the DPA immediately and to the fullest extent," they wrote.
The president announced last week that he would invoke the DPA in a limited fashion, though top health experts and congressional Democrats have urged him to use the act beyond its value as leverage in negotiations with private companies.