There is a growing sense among observers that the Obama Administration does not understand or even, perhaps, care about the defense industrial base. In the midst of the deepest recession since the 1930s, the administration has allowed the Department of Defense (DoD) to cancel programs such as the VH-71 helicopter, the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, C-17 and the F-22 without any consideration for the impacts of these decisions on the defense industrial base. In many cases there were no alternatives or follow-on programs, even in the R&D stage. As a result, the United States is in danger of losing the capabilities necessary to develop and build future generations of aircraft, missiles, satellites and weapons systems.
Efforts to get the White House to apply some of the stimulus money to procure additional equipment for the military have been rebuffed, even though this would mean lots of jobs. The same lack of responsiveness is true regarding efforts to get the administration to more aggressively support foreign sales of U.S. military hardware. Japan alone may have bought up to a hundred F-22s. Efforts to sell billions of dollars of U.S.-built military equipment to allies such as Iraq are being sidelined by bureaucratic red tape.
We are entering an era in which more and more of critical defense industrial production and know-how resides in single facilities or with a single company. Faced with program cancellations and declining weapons budgets, these companies are confronted by the need to make very difficult business decisions that could see decades’ worth of skills and capabilities go out the door. DoD and the White House are clueless about what it would take to regain lost capabilities.
At a time when unemployment is nearing ten percent, well-paying manufacturing jobs are disappearing and the trade deficit remains uncomfortably high, the unwillingness of the administration to do anything for one of this country’s premier high-tech, export earning manufacturing sectors borders on insanity. Or perhaps it just reflects an ingrained anti-military bias of the Obama White House.
Find Archived Articles: