U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is scheduled to meet with top aerospace executives on Jan. 20 to discuss the industrial base at a time when projected military spending is expected to decline.
About 40 CEOs and senior representatives from the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), Professional Services Council (PSC) and National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) are slated to attend the meeting with Panetta, according to Alexis Allen, an AIA spokeswoman.
“The meeting is part of the ongoing dialogue with the Pentagon about important issues between the industry and DoD,” Allen said in an email message. “Some of the discussion will address issues that were in the Joint Industrial Base Report that AIA, PSC and NDIA submitted to the Pentagon in November.”
The week’s meeting with AIA follows the Pentagon’s Jan. 5 release of a new comprehensive military strategy.
Panetta plans to talk with the industry officials about the strategy and export control reform, according to a senior defense official.
The new strategy emphasized the DoD’s desire to protect the industrial base, but also described a push for more flexibility from manufacturers as the military is adjusted for future missions. The document is designed to shape $487 billion in cuts to planned defense spending over the next decade.
The first five years of those cuts are expected to be outlined in the Pentagon’s 2013 budget proposal. The White House is expected to send its federal spending plan to Capitol Hill on Feb. 6.
Panetta is expected to preview those cuts on Jan 26.
But additional Pentagon spending reductions might be on the horizon. Last November, a bipartisan congressional panel was unable to find areas to cut government spending by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, prompting sequestration. DoD’s share of these cuts are about $600 billion over 10 years.
The cuts do not go into effect until January 2013, meaning Congress could write legislation reducing or eliminating them.
AIA has lobbied hard against the additional defense spending cuts, saying they would harm the U.S. industrial base.
The industrial base report authored by the three lobbying groups warned that sequestration cuts could force production lines to close, prompting layoffs and the elimination of entire companies.
By Marcus Weisgerber
January 19, 2012