This is an op-ed of mine that ran on The Hill’s Congress Blog.
After a decade-long streak of rising revenue, corporate profits and stock prices, the U.S. defense industry is now at a crossroads as significant as that faced at the end of the Cold War.
More than earnings are on the line, because since Sept. 11 the industry has been so interwoven into the American national security apparatus, so corporate changes have national-level implications.
It’s a time of change. New blockbuster weapons programs are history. Wartime spending is tapering off as tens of thousands of U.S. forces come home from the Mideast and Central Asia. Even once de rigueur air show appearances in Paris and London by top defense executives are now viewed as an unnecessary luxury. Meanwhile, the politics of defense spending is changing. Military hardware initiatives, long tied to jobs and political donations from companies, are under assault from Democratic and Republicans alike as irate taxpayers seek to claw back control over the federal budget.
At this crossroads, which road should policymakers, the Defense Department and defense executives take?