Industry Responds to New Security Environment
by Lt. Gen. Lawrence P. Farrell, Jr., USAF (Ret)
The sweeping changes seen in the military and national security posture of the United States in recent years will have far-reaching implications, particularly for those in the business of defense.
Since the 9/11 attacks, we have seen the standup of the Department of Homeland Security, the creation of U.S. Northern Command and restructuring of the U.S. Strategic Command, not to mention the vast mobilization and deployments of military forces in support of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and stepped-up homeland security operations.
Civilian Pentagon leaders and senior military officials have warned repeatedly that the nation should brace for a long, unpleasant fight against terrorism, both at home and abroad.
In a relatively short period of time, many of the traditional ways of thinking and doing business in defense have been shaken to the core. We now think differently about the type of wars the United States will need to prepare to fight, and how these new threats shape the training and equipment that are required to confront the nation’s enemies.
For the defense industry, innovative thinking and agility are in order. With thousands of U.S. troops on the front lines, there is no more tolerance for long procurement cycles and protracted research and development.
As Defense Department officials have often pointed out, in times such as these, the industry is being counted upon to respond rapidly to the needs of those in the field.
The ability of the U.S. industrial base to surge in response to the equipment demands of our military is something that often is taken for granted. That brings me to the reason for NDIA's existence. It was the inadequacy of the U.S. industrial base to meet the needs of troops in World War I that led to the founding in 1919 of the Army Ordnance Association, which subsequently became the American Defense Preparedness Association, and later (after a merger with the National Security Industrial Association) the National Defense Industrial Association.
Reflecting on the role we play in ensuring the preparedness of our defense industrial base, both in the private and public sectors, we have refined our mission statement for NDIA. As America's leading defense industry association that promotes national security, we are expanding our scope to reflect the changing environment and to embrace areas that have gained new relevance, such as homeland defense.
As we have done for more than 80 years, we intend to continue to advocate that the nation provide high technology, best in-class equipment and support for the war fighters and first responders, and promote a robust, responsive government-industry security team that is based on mutual interest. To accomplish those two missions, we will continue to provide a legal and ethical forum for exchange of information between industry and government on national security issues.
This is especially critical today, with an industry that is significantly smaller, as a result of a massive wave of mergers and acquisitions during the past decade. As military labs and depots continue to downsize and the industry shrinks due to consolidation, private-public partnering will become an even more essential part of doing business with the Defense Department.
To facilitate the interaction between industry and government, NDIA offers many forums for the exchange of information regarding national security issues. We are fortunate to have an impressive cadre of volunteer organizations, which we call "Divisions," in charge of developing successful programs, conferences and symposia that serve the interests of both industry and government. We also have five affiliates that pursue specific aspects of the security market: the National Training Systems Association, the Precision Strike Association, the National Correlation Working Group, the Association for Enterprise Integration and Women In Defense. With these divisions and affiliates, NDIA covers virtually the entire defense and security market.
NDIA's motto, "Strength Through Industry and Technology," simply captures the spirit of who we are and what we are about.
The motto recognizes that what makes the U.S. military different from others is, first and foremost, the quality of our troops, but also the effectiveness of their training and the performance of their weapon systems and equipment.
The technology our forces take to war must not only be the best, but, in today's environment, it must also be delivered faster.
In the U.S. military, people are at the center of our effectiveness equation. We enable their unique talents through superior training and technology. We owe them our best. To paraphrase Robert E. Lee, we can never do more than our best, and we should never wish to do less.
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