Study examines relationship between DoD, industry

Tuesday - 7/21/2009, 2:19pm EDT

Fred Downey

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By Arianna Price
FederalNewsRadio

The Department of Defense relies on the defense industry to create all the products needed to keep this country safe.

But, what happens if this relationship were to break down and industry were no longer able to produce the needed goods?

A new study released by the Aerospace Industries Association examines this relationship between the DoD and the defense industry found that policy decisions do affect certain sectors of the defense industrial base.

"For example, we looked at a much more robust power projection scenario than the one we have right now and determined that a number of sectors would require substantially more augmentation in order to provide the capabilities that the department would require for that area," Fred Downey, the Vice President of National Security for the AIA, said in an with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Jane Norris.

"Modern military weapons systems are very complex. They require specialized skills and those skills are perishable. They also require certain facilities and tooling to be able to build them."

Because of these required skills, it is very important that the DoD keeps programs running that it may need in the future.

The facilities and developmental capabilities of these plants degrade very quickly when not in use.

If the DoD would need use of these facilities or technology in the future it would take a substantial amount of time and money to restart the program, Downey said.

"Our report says that the policy choices can affect what, when and how industry can support our military. The scope of the study was to look at the industrial base from the perspective of the effects of policy decisions and strategy decisions by the department of defense to determine what sectors of the defense industry might be affected by those decisions."

According to Downey, the best way to ensure the government does not make a mistake in how the contracts are made is to include an assessment of the industrial base in the Quadrennial Defense Review.

The report also found that the defense industrial base has been so successful in keeping up with government demands that there is an assumption that the industry will be able to support what ever plan the DoD creates, Downey said.

"It's absolutely important that we retain the capability to design and build new and better systems. So, to the extent that the department allows that to degrade while they look for another solution for the army, that's not a very good development."

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