Monday, May 31, 2010

The Defense Industrial Base:Issues to be Considered and Recommendations - Dr. Sheila Ronis Dir. MBA Programs Walsh College

Check out this SlideShare Presentation: The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) Vision Working Group is recommending the establishment of a Center for Strategic Analysis and Assesment (CSAA) within the Executive Office of The President (EOP) in the White House. This center will use foresight tools among many others to improve this decision making process in the EOP. The following scenario explores the use of one of those tools, and because of the current climate, we are sharing this with you. An updated version of this scenario to reflect existing technological, operational and geo-political realities will be a part of an upcoming publication soon to be released by the PNSR.

The Vision Working Group leader, Dr. Sheila R. Ronis, wrote this in conjunction with supporting data from public sources. Her latest book 'Timelines Into The Future: Strategic Visioning Methods For Government, Business, And Other Organizations' is available through the following link:

Future Defense Industry Scenarios’
By Sheila Ronis, Leader of the PNSR Vision Working Group

Wednesday, April 30, 2008; 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Hudson Institute, Betsy and Walter Stern Conference Center
1015 15th Street, N.W., 6th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005


Future scenarios such as this are designed to unlock the mind from its preconceptions in the hope of revealing undiscovered insights. This process can make some futures appear less plausible that have more or less been taken for granted, and prepare decision-makers to look for signs of likewise unexpected futures. To be clear: the goal is not to predict the future. Rather, it is to think about the future and to be better prepared for it as the future unpredictably unfolds
Weaknesses in our defense industrial base supply chain, dependency on third-party vendors, continual disregard for the Berry Amendment, and lack of foresight regarding the interplay between global economy and national security are the root causes of failure in this scenario.

The task is to ensure that the vulnerabilities we highlight are never capitalized on. Doing so will require a shift from hindsight to foresight. Indeed, the necessary prerequisite of creating a better, safer national security environment for tomorrow starts with the ability to envision it. While drawing on lessons from history is certainly important, nowhere in the United States government will you find personnel dedicated exclusively to overarching strategy with a long-term view. It is imperative to remedy this in order to avoid disastrous consequences, and reduce risks – both potential and real.

The 9-11 Commission Report concluded that the devastating attacks in September 2001 were due primarily to a failure of imagination and to leaders who did not fully understand the gravity of the threat we faced. One of the most compelling aspects about the following case study is that although it takes place in the future, it relies very little on imagination. This scenario is not about fantasy or prediction but practical reasoning and logical deduction. To be sure, the framework required for disaster in this scenario to unfold is largely set.

Creating an Opportunity

During the course of the last 30 years, the Chinese have infiltrated critical elements of the U.S. industrial base, which is, of course, inseparable from the defense industrial base. In addition to targeting automotive, aerospace and specialty metals, they have paid particular attention to the electronics industry. Through mergers, joint ventures, outright acquisition and industrial espionage, they have gained access and control to sensitive technologies.

This is especially true in the area of electronic connectors, which are connective devices used to join electrical circuits together, and are absolutely critical to everything using power. For reasons unbeknownst to most of the world, the Chinese government designated these simple devices as a high priority sector, and by 2006 China was producing a third of the worlds’ supply of electronic connectors.

In this future scenario, hypothetical Chinese aggression towards Taiwan provokes a Sino-U.S. military confrontation. Initially, the technologically superior and network-centric American military is quickly devastated by the Chinese’ ability to activate imbedded programming in small electronic connectors. This process effectively neutralizes the defense, attack, and navigation capabilities within every system on U.S. warships, submarines, and aircraft. Because Beijing controls two-thirds of the world’s supply of these seemingly harmless connective devices, the Chinese are able to deliberately and strategically infiltrate the U.S. military and industrial base and target four of the military’s primary weapons systems programs.

The purpose of this scenario is to expose flaws and weaknesses within the current U.S. national security apparatus. It calls attention to potential dangers of overlooking current weaknesses in the U.S. defense industrial base and global supply chain. The text also highlights the importance of evaluating assumptions and continually assessing novel events.

Sheila R. Ronis, Ph.D.
Director, MBA/MSSL Programs
Associate Professor, Management
Walsh College
3838 Livernois Road
P.O. Box 7006
Troy, MI 48007-7006
248-823-1296 - phone
248-689-0920 - fax