By Chan Cochran

One important aspect of the decision to locate Intel’s new chipmaking facility in our backyards hasn’t received enough discussion.

That’s the national security dimension of the project.

Over the last 30 years, America foolishly allowed manufacturing that is key to the national defense to go offshore. Much of it went to China which is the very nation we may someday be called to defend against.

In fact, we’re already in that next war, which is an economic war. China covets  our economic power, and the standard of living we enjoy as Americans. Its currency manipulation, barriers to entry for American made goods, and theft of American intellectual property are well documented. It seeks to become the world’s leading economic powerhouse, lawlessly and at our expense.

It was frequently said in the wake of World War I and II that America’s basic industrial strength was what made the difference between victory and defeat,along with the determination of the American soldier. War materiel depended on the production of steel for tanks, ships, guns and artillery. It can be credibly argued that those wars were won in the steel mills of Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Cleveland where patriotic and determined Middlewestern workers outproduced Germany and Japan.

Today, the most fundamental basic industry of the economic war of our time is computer chipmaking.  Computer chips are basic not only to large computers, but to cellphones, vehicles, navigation and weapons systems, and even ordinary consumer goods like coffee pots and home alarm systems.

As we’ve learned to our chagrin, our inattention to chip-making has led us to a worldwide chip shortage that has slowed manufacturing, including the manufacture of American cars and vehicles. We lack chips for simple consumer goods, never mind demands that national defense will place on our chip supply as China becomes even  more aggressive..

Under CEO Pat Gelsinger, a great American company that has been asleep in terms of its strategic outlook, has now sprung back to life. Intel seeks to move at warp speed to rectify the American chip supply imbalance that exists between us and our rivals. Our Congress isn’t moving that fast, but appears nearly ready to pass the Chip Act which is essential to Intel and chipmaking generally..

The great compliment to us in Licking County is that just as the nation turned to the Heartland in the hot wars of the last century, it is now turning again to the Heartland to produce the strategic goods – chips – to win the economic war we are now fighting.

When the chips are down, Gelsinger knows that plain-spoken, hardworking, patriotic Midwesterners will get the job done, and he’s put $20 billion of company money behind that belief.

His money’s safe. We’ll get it done because it’s vital to our nation. It’s who we’ve always been, and it’s who we are today.

[Cochran, a Viet Nam veteran and career communications professional in Columbus, now resides in Newark where he is a member of the Welcome Intel Task Force]