In a world where the military is struggling to meet new demand and supply requirements, defense firms are looking for ways to diversify their operations and products.
It’s a need that is taking a back seat to other technological and industrial innovation that has propelled the world’s military capabilities to unprecedented heights.
The Industrial Revolution started when machines and machinery replaced people in the 19th century and the industrial era is the first one where human labor is no longer required to make things.
As a result, military manufacturing and military hardware production is becoming increasingly dependent on robotics, automation and data analytics, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
“The industrial revolution is going to be huge, so you have to be prepared for it,” said Robert W. Cone, president of the Center for Defense Information, a defense think tank.
Cone and other experts say the military has been slow to adapt to this change.
In the first few years of the new century, it’s been able to build a few pieces of equipment like guns, rockets and aircraft, but they haven’t been able get their feet wet in a major way.
The Pentagon is still trying to transition from the traditional weapons industry to a digital world where they can tap into everything from medical imaging to robotics and other applications.
That’s why it’s imperative that the Pentagon invests in what the military sees as the next major technological change.
“It’s time for the military to invest in its capabilities in the areas of the digital revolution and in its weapons capabilities,” Cone said.
“The military needs to be ready to respond to this new challenge.”
It’s not just about the technology.
Defense technology companies also need to be able to respond quickly to any disruption, whether it’s an attack or an event like an asteroid or pandemic.
Defense industry leaders have been saying they need to take advantage of a growing number of opportunities in the future, including new digital capabilities, such as 3D printers, which can help the military produce more than one item at a time.
And there are also more innovative ways to make weapons that are easier to build, such a new type of radar that allows them to see a wider range of targets, or a weapon that is much more accurate.
“When you get into those areas, you need to make sure that you have the capability to make those capabilities to respond rapidly to those kinds of changes,” Ciechanover said.
The Pentagon is also focusing on cybersecurity.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has been conducting a survey of companies that provide information technology services to the military and is working to identify those that can best leverage technology in an effective way.
But some experts are worried that the government may be underestimating the potential for cybersecurity threats.
“We need to know that our systems are up to the challenges they’re facing,” C. Thomas Gill, a former top military cyber officer who is now a partner at the cybersecurity firm IHS Technology.
“There are things that are going to happen, for example, that are not really anticipated by the military, that we need to anticipate and mitigate.”
It has been a difficult time for defense contractors, with the rise of ISIS and North Korea threatening their business and jobs, said Ciehanover.
Defense contractors have been hit hard by the downturn in the global economy and have seen their revenues shrink by 20 percent from a year ago, while the cost of new equipment is soaring.
“You are seeing a huge investment in new technology that is going nowhere fast,” Cienover said, referring to the Pentagon’s effort to diversification.
In addition to the cybersecurity concerns, some of the biggest problems facing the defense industry come down to supply chain management.
“If you have a bad supply chain, you can’t get the new weapons you want and you can also have an explosion of new costs, so it’s hard to make any long-term investments,” Gill said.
To address the supply chain challenges, the Pentagon is expanding its military contracts and hiring more employees.
But there are still plenty of questions about how much of the current workforce is suited to the jobs it’s supposed to be fulfilling.
“They need to have the people that are willing to go and do the jobs they need, but I don’t think there is a lot of qualified people in this market right now,” Cinney said.
For example, Cinneys experience as a defense contractor in the early 1990s was largely about getting contract workers into a war zone.
“At the time, we were looking at how to get into places where we had a chance to win a war and we had to win,” he said.
He was also trying to find ways to get people into combat zones quickly, something he has been doing since the war.
But he says that he didn’t find the right workforce for the job.
“You can’t make a lot out of this,” he explained.
“I was not convinced that we were going to