Service Chiefs Fear Loss of Industrial Capability

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The U.S. defense industrial base may lose unique elements that could not be reconstituted later. This could deprive the U.S. military of vital capabilities permanently if new companies do not emerge to take their places.

That gloomy assessment was offered in a special Wednesday luncheon town hall that featured service chiefs from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Coast Guard at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, USN, chief of naval operations, described his worries about the sequestration and continuing resolution effects on the industrial base.

“Half of the nuclear vendors are single source,” he pointed out. “If they go under, I don’t know how we’ll get them back. How we will recover from that, I don’t know.”

Gen. James F. Amos, USMC, commandant of the Marine Corps, extended that outlook to a significant loss of capability that some people think will not be needed. “People ask why we need a capability for forced entry [invasion],” he related. “It would be pretty naïve to think that, in the future, there won’t be a time and place when our nation says, ‘it’s time to impose our will’ and we need a force to enter a hostile place.” That capability might be lost when it is needed the most, he pointed out.

All of the services are faced with diverting funds to address key needs. However, even that may not be a viable short-term solution. Adm. Greenert said that, if the Navy does not obtain the funding along with the ability to reprogram it, ships will not be deployed in time and the fleet will not have the readiness it needs.

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