News | May 1, 2003

Transformation and the Defense Industrial Base: A New Model

By Robbin F. Laird Defense Horizons 26


Transformation and the Defense Industrial BaseOverview

American force transformation is about building a new expeditionary model with flexible, modular forces that can be managed on a global basis to protect U.S. interests. Breaking the tyranny of geography on military forces is a key aspect to change. 

Transformation represents a shift in the demand side of the defense industrial business to provide for these new capabilities. The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking system-of-systems management to deliver capabilities to the services and for joint military operations. This represents a shift from the past emphasis upon platforms and a primary focus upon service-specific technologies and programs. 

As the demand side of the equation has shifted, so has the supply side. Defense consolidation in the 1990s dealt with scarcity; now the newly emerged mega-primes are asked to play the role of lead systems integrators (LSIs) or system-of-systems managers to deliver capability to DOD for transformed operations. 

DOD moved to a different way of doing business before the transformation effort emerged as a core priority. Now that the transformation agenda is dominating the shift in the relationship between industry and government, working through LSI roles in shaping capabilities-based procurement will be especially important. 

Additionally, the new LSI and system-of-systems management model is shaping a new approach to allies. The new model can allow industry to shape new capabilities on a transatlantic basis. Rather than the old export-after-production model, the new LSI model, coupled with a transformation emphasis, leads to the shaping of new opportunities for developing capabilities before core series production decisions would be taken.