Bill’s 2014 Foreign Affairs article outlines the history of the Pentagon’s relationship with commercial industries and urges for reform to adapt to the new era of defense, marked by rapid globalization.
ARLINGTON, VA, October 30, 2014 -- According to Bill, the history of the U.S. defense industry can be broken down into four distinct eras:
1. 1787–1941. For 150 years, the sector consisted largely of government-owned arsenals and shipyards, supplemented by commercial industry only in times of conflict.
2. 1942–1993. In order to accommodate for the sheer scale of WWII, President Franklin Roosevelt established the War Production Board, which conscripted the largest U.S. industrial enterprises into wartime service. The defense divisions of these companies were maintained after the war, developing some of today’s most influential technology.
3. 1994–2014. After the Cold War, defense budgets began to shrink and diversified defense conglomerates consolidated into the handful of companies that still dominate the defense industry.
4. Today. U.S. defense companies have begun to lag behind commercial industries in technology development and a trend toward rapid globalization has taken hold. Throughout this fast-evolving landscape, the Pentagon has remained stagnant, turning off potential commercial partners, and turning away opportunities to work with partners abroad. All the while, defense budgets continue to shrink.
Lynn urges Washington officials to weigh reforms, opening the Pentagon’s doors to commercial industries and global enterprises, in order to make the most of the remaining defense budget and maintain technological dominance.