Members of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) High Power Lasers (HPL) Task Force — comprising leading defense contractors, commercial laser companies and academia — today announced recommendations to improve U.S. defense operations and manufacturing capabilities. The recommendations call for the establishment of a directed energy program office to coordinate domestic manufacturing of high-power lasers. The program office would ensure the domestic supply of critical components required for high power lasers for defense, and also support commercial technology applications such as cutting, welding and additive manufacturing. NPI HPL reported that volume manufacturing of high power lasers is moving offshore, where technology transfer enables foreign defense threats that erode the U.S. industrial base. At the same time, foreign competition has expanded rapidly, particularly in China and Russia. A directed energy program office will also serve to enhance policies that intelligently protect critical technologies while not inhibiting the success of U.S. exporting companies. Eugene Arthurs, co-chair of the NPI HPL Task Force and CEO of SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, cited declining funding for high-power laser programs over the last decade, while the technology itself is “on the cusp of practical implementation for the warfighter.” The NPI partnered with the Directed Energy Professional Society to establish the HPL Task Force and produce recommendations. The NPI HPL Task Force report is available online.