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Security Assistance Perspectives: Assessing the Defense Industrial Base

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The erosion of Americas defense industrial base is one of the most pressing the Department of Defense faces today, but it is hardly a new problem. In 1980, in a report on industrial responsiveness, the Defense Science Board first raised the red flag. Just last fall, the board published another study on the defense industrial base. The principal conclusions reached by the study were dramatic. First, the continued deterioration of the industrial and technology base diminishes the credibility of our deterrent and requires a coordinated response by government and industry. Second, globalization of U.S. defense markets has made our nation partially and irreversibly dependent upon foreign resources and products used in our weapon systems. Third, there is inadequate long-term investment by contractors at all levels of the procurement process, resulting from the increasing uncertainties surrounding the defense budget and a perceived imbalance between the risk and return in the defense industry. Finally, subcontractors, ranging from very large manufacturers down to small high-technology companies, either refuse defense business or segregate their older technology and other production lines and apply them to defense business. There is often confusion over what is meant by the phrase the defense industrial base. Usually it is interpreted as meaning only the large prime contractors for our weapon systems. The fact is that the defense industrial base consists of the same manufacturers that produce goods for the general public. Although a number of companies rely primarily on the Department of Defense as their principal market, few industries do. However, the department depends on virtually every sector of manufacturing for support. This article discusses the signs of erosion the atmosphere of mistrust among Congress, DoD, and defense contractors improving relationships between DoD and industry and DoDs role in improving the performance of U.S. industry.

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  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Manufacturing and Industrial Engineering and Control of Production Systems
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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