Democracy's Arsenal: Creating a Twenty-First-Century Defense Industry

Article excerpt

DEMOCRACY'S ARSENAL: Creating a Twenty-First-Century Defense Industry, Jacques S. Gansler, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2011, 452 pages, $45.00

THIS IS THE fourth major work on the defense industry by Jacques S. Gansler, a well-respected scholar and former Department of Defense (DOD) official. He writes that deep systemic change is needed to prepare the DOD and related defense industries for the coming decades. The shift of threats to nonstate actors using terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and electronic warfare makes the development of new technologies and expanding international military cooperation growing challenges. The defense industry's ability to respond is greatly threatened because its current development and acquisition model depends on outdated strategic concepts and budgets no longer sustainable due to an aging populace, an increasing debt load, and rising pension and healthcare costs.

Gansler begins with overviews of the defense industry and then goes on to provide detailed investigations of industry sectors along with the needed advice and direction on future policy changes. While recognizing that a single buyer dominates the current defense market, he believes the reintroduction of competitive elements among producers will reinvigorate the industry. Industry mergers, tight export controls, heavy government regulation, and the reluctance to rely on the technical expertise of non-U.S. researchers have stifled growth and innovation in the science and technology fields. Due to the high cost of dealing with DOD, many commercial companies have left the defense field and developed technologies that far outpace those sometimes available to the military. …