As the past decade has shown, the United States can be quickly drawn into conflicts around the world. To be prepared, our country must maintain a strong and skilled defense manufacturing industry to support the production of the equipment our troops need. But this defense base and the skilled jobs it provides are in grave danger.
Between 1998 and 2010, the country lost 57,000 manufacturing facilities and 6 million manufacturing jobs. If this trend continues, there is a very real risk that we will permanently lose the skills required to make much-needed equipment for the U.S. military and will need to look overseas for suppliers. As former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned earlier this year, “The last damn thing we need if we face a crisis is to somehow contract out that responsibility to another country. So we have to maintain the core industrial base that we need. The skills are essential to our ability to maintain a strong national defense.”