Defense industry upbeat on a Donald Trump presidency; public awaits national security appointments

Nov. 15, 2016
THE MIL & AERO COMMENTARY, 15 Nov. 2016. It's only been a week since the U.S. elected Donald Trump as its next president, the mood of the U.S. defense industry is more upbeat than I've seen it in years.
THE MIL & AERO COMMENTARY, 15 Nov. 2016. It's only been a week since the U.S. elected Donald Trump as its next president, the mood of the U.S. defense industry is more upbeat than I've seen it in years.

With little more than nine weeks until Trump takes office, we've seen stocks of defense companies like BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin increase sharply, new names floated for Trump's secretary of defense, and hints that Trump aims to rebuild U.S. military forces following peace-through-strength policies similar to his predecessor, Ronald Reagan.

You can't blame defense experts for feeling giddy over Trump's election; it's the first political rhetoric we've seen in quite some time concerning a big boost in support for military spending and supporting military priorities.

Think about it ... this is an industry that for the past eight-plus years has lived under a cloud of defense budget reductions, arms-control policies, several threats of across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, and a brutal attrition that effectively has hollowed-out the Pentagon's top officer corps.

This is an industry that's ready for good news, and Trump's election is more than most ever dreamed.

Related: Defense industry will emerge from these hard times stronger than ever

With less than a week as president-elect Trump has voiced military priorities that include modernizing the nation's ageing nuclear weapons arsenal; securing critical infrastructure from cyber attacks; and using U.S. military power only to American national interests.

As an aside, however, I would recommend that Americans take a breath before we move forward. Those on the right are ready to let the good times roll, while those on the left are anticipating grotesque violations of human rights. I doubt we'll see either one as expected.

President Trump is bound to frustrate and infuriate those on the right and left in equal measure. He'll be called everything from traitor to the cause to a closet liberal. I think we all can agree that we need a higher employment rate, increases in paychecks, and peace abroad. Let's hope that's the direction we'll go.

On the national security front it's worth quoting Trump's defense and national security priorities as posted on the president-elect's transition team Website at

"America’s stature in the world is determined by its values, prosperity and might," the site reads. "Donald Trump understands how a strong, prosperous economy underwrites military might, and how a strong, robust military secures our way of life and the fruits of our economy. Mr. Trump recognizes that we cannot tackle challenges, especially threats to our security, unless we define the problem in a way that American resources and instruments of power can be applied against them.

Related: Defense industry concerned about cyber security; not sure where to turn for help

"To this end, Mr. Trump recognizes the long-term threat posed to our nation and our allies by radical ideologies that direct and inspire terrorism," the site continues. "A Trump Administration will be committed to both immediate and sustainable actions to counter the threats posed by these radical ideologies. A Trump Administration also recognizes the uniquely catastrophic threats posed by nuclear weapons and cyber attacks. Mr. Trump will ensure our strategic nuclear triad is modernized to ensure it continues to be an effective deterrent, and his Administration will review and minimize our nation’s infrastructure vulnerabilities to cyber threats. Mr. Trump will be a strong Commander-in-Chief befitting our American men and women in uniform, and ensure their sacrifices will only be made in operations that safeguard the interests of the American people and our allies, and that their service will be honored as they enter the ranks of veterans."

It's yet unclear who will head-up Trump Administration cabinet and other senior-level positions for defense and national security, such as secretary of defense, secretary of state, secretary of homeland security, and director of national intelligence.

Among those mentioned for secretary of defense are Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions; former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent; former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley; former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte; and retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Flynn would need a congressional waiver to be defense secretary, however, and he's also been mentioned as national security adviser.

Candidates for secretary of state include former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani also has been talked about for secretary of state, as well as for attorney general.

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About the Author

John Keller | Editor

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

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