Eisenhower Meets Trump: A New Defense Industrial Base Strategy

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Media Outlet: War On the Rocks

Stephen Rodriguez wrote an article for War On the Rocks about Trump's new strategy regarding the defense industry:

In his final speech from the White House before leaving office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower cautioned the American public to:

[G]uard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

While many hold Eisenhower’s words up as a warning against corporatist influence on defense spending, the narrative that an all-powerful defense industry acts as a market leviathan simply is not true. The U.S. defense industrial base has been hollowing out and consolidating for decades, leaving defense acquisition officials with numerous single points of failure in their supply chains. In many instances, only one company, out of nearly 80,000 in the defense industrial base, is able to perform sensitive technology work for the Pentagon. For example, there is just one company in the United States that can repair propellers for Navy submarines —a single point of failure. The same is true of producers of flat panel displays for military aircraft. The mining of rare earth elements has left America completely, leaving China as the sole marketplace.

Author:

Stephen P. Rodriguez is a senior fellow with New America’s International Security program and the founder of One Defense.