Editor's Note: In September 2014, while we were working on this story, a Pentagon spokesman emailed us to say:
"The Department of Defense is confident in the ability of the defense industry to remain supplied with all necessary rare earths for U.S. defense acquisition programs. The Department continuously monitors and assesses its raw materials requirements, and if necessary, will again take action to ensure their availability to the defense industrial base."
That confidence is at odds with the Pentagon's Inspector General's Office, which issued a report on July 3, 2014 that concluded:
"DoD [Department of Defense] lacked a comprehensive and reliable process to assess RE