Defense industrial base identifies with general manufacturing, tooling misconceptions
Friday, November 6, 2009
By Joe Brown
Military Lower Tier Suppliers Experiencing Same Frustrations as Automotive
Military suppliers and the industrial base they are a part of, currently face similar circumstances to those in the Machine, Tool, Die and Mold (MTDM) sectors. Like several previous articles in T&D, the mass misunderstandings about the importance of a viable manufacturing base in the U.S. do not exist in a vacuum.
Many in the MTDM industry are clamoring for a new “manufacturing policy” in America to prevent mistakes of past generations which have eroded crucial functions of manufacturing. What I found interesting is the increasingly louder whispers in Military and Defense supplier-circles debating the potential need for a new “industrial policy” mandated from the Pentagon to stem the rising uncertainty several suppliers–including certain MTDMs.
A recent article from the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) military manufacturing publication, National Defense Magazine, caught my attention because of the fundamental flaws in perception are exactly the same in Defense tooling as it is in Automotive.
The Pentagon is concerned with the sustainability of certain suppliers if they don’t have programs to keep them busy. They know there are specific skills and trades in the supply chain that must be salvaged. They just don’t know which ones…..
“The engineering and weapons-design work force is a critical asset that the Pentagon can’t afford to lose, but nobody really has defined what specific skills within that work force are the essential ones to keep,” according to Gerald Abbott, professor emeritus at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
Two elephants-in-the-rooms in MTDM for quite some time have been the aging workforce and ever-widening gap in the skilled trades’ labor pool. Government and Military suppliers can attest to that.