Defense Procurement Expands to Include Crisis Avoidance

To say that a huge portion of government spend is allocated to defense is, indeed, an understatement. The U.S., and most other countries, spend huge sums chasing, policing, prosecuting, punishing -- and to a lesser extent rehabilitating -- those who transgress our laws and world order. It's a bit like chasing down the proverbial horses that escape from the barn because of a faulty latch -- or as my favorite social philosopher, Ben Franklin, once wrote: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." But the U.S. Pentagon and State department appears to heeding old Ben's advice.

"The Pentagon and the State Department are now leaning on defense contractors to come up with ways to stave off crises before they occur, with programs as simple as mentoring lawyers or teaching auto repair" according to a story in this morning's WSJ. Even Lockheed Martin Corporation is on the bid list: "Last year, Lockheed had two of its highest profile programs, the F-22 Raptor fighter and a fleet of presidential helicopters, ended by the Obama administration. Now, Lockheed is one of several defense firms expected to bid for a State Department contract to support 'criminal justice sector development programs world-wide,' that could be worth up to $30 billion over five years." So much for supplier diversity but the concept seems to be on point.

The Journal writes that "The economic and political tenets of smart power are in many ways a modern extension of past U.S. foreign endeavors such as the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe after World War II. 'We cannot kill or capture our way to victory,' Mr. Gates said in a 2008 speech that outlined the new policy. He has said the biggest threats to U.S. security 'emanate from fractured or failed states,' and to combat them, the Pentagon needs to engage with these countries in a way 'that reduces the need for direct U.S. military intervention'."

With this up-tick in defense outsourcing to area's that are clearly outside The Pentagon's and State Department's comfort zone -- and likely that of their contractor's of choice too -- this sector will become even more ripe for improved supplier visibility in a range of areas that are also untested.

William Busch

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