The State of Defense

Aug. 6, 2018

As we all know by now, the US 2018 omnibus spending bill was passed at the end of March this year (only six months late into the 2018 fiscal year!). This $1.3 Trillion (that’s with a “T”) authorizes $589.5 billion in base Department of Defense (DoD) funding and $65.2 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding. In total, this funding is $55.2 billion above amounts enacted in the FY2017 Defense Appropriations Act.

Our company and many others watch the DoD budget very carefully, and are grateful for the additional funding for programs that have languished too long - because the US needs a strong defense. Tensions are growing all over the world; in the Middle East (the breakdown of the Iran nuclear deal, the movement of the US embassy, continued threat of non-state (proxy) terrorist groups); in Europe (Russian incursions in the Baltics and Balkans); in Asia (territorial disputes in the South China Sea; and, of course, the uncertain course of matters in the Korean peninsula).

A role to play

In every situation, the US has a role to play – and, as happened, at the end of both WWI and WWII, the US will carry most of the burden in dealing with these issues. So: while we lament the cost (the US spends more on defense than the next 11 highest spending countries in the world combined) and feel the pain when we pay our taxes, few contend that we should shrink from the position we have assumed.

Yes, the DoD spends a lot of money. There are many opinions about foreign policy - the when, where and how much we should intervene in world affairs - and while that does profoundly affect how we spend our budget dollars, it is not the point I want to make here.

Building products for the military has always been expensive. Historically, this is because in decades past design and manufacturing was far less controllable.  That was not because the facilities were below par or the workers inept, but because technology of the time produced products that were far less consistent, requiring far more confirmation. Standards begat testing, which begat more standards, which begat more rigorous specifications - and costs rose accordingly, with more facilities, more equipment and more people. Mostly, though, it just made things take longer and, as they say - time is money.

New technology – faster

Today, with the proliferation of highly automated and constantly high-quality commercial design tools and manufacturing methods, we can not only produce higher quality products, but we can go from design to deliverable product in far less time. Not only does this save time and money, but it puts new technology in the field much faster (and that is a great thing too, because our warfighters want - and need - the best performance available even more than you ‘need’ that new iPhone…).

Recognizing the huge benefit, the US Government has put several initiative programs, such as OTA (Other Transactional Authority), in place that embrace the reality of commercial design and manufacturing (and this is no small feat, because many of the processes and specifications that are being over taken have been in place for 100 years). Here at Abaco, we are pleased to work within some of these initiatives to answer the call for leading edge technology delivered faster at lower cost.

And this is the point: in the competitive affairs of the world, a strong defense is expensive - so each of us who supply the military must use every tool available to produce the best products at the lowest cost in the shortest time. At Abaco, we know that our country has a big job to do and we’re doing our part. 

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