Defence Consolidation in the US

Authored by: O. Shawn Cupp

Handbook of Defence Politics

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9781857434439
eBook ISBN: 9780203804278
Adobe ISBN:


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Larry Lust, a retired US Army Major General, recently remarked that ‘America is not at war. Her Armed Forces are at war; America is at the mall.’ 1 Is this a symptom of how the US fights wars during the 21st century or a purposeful policy decision to make the business of war more palatable to the average American citizen? Americans do not have to worry about what it costs to provide for a war, except for the select few who sent their own sons and daughters to the fight. The cost is not figured as a tax, a reduction in services or less access to industrial base goods to support the average US citizen or family. It is not a requirement transferred to the US consumer as an opportunity to live without a good or service. It is not a necessity or even a luxury item that is reduced in availability or right of use. The industrial base is currently not on what is commonly called ‘wartime footing’. Consequently, the simple fact remains that the US defence industrial base is not what it once was. The ‘Global War on Terror’ (GWOT) and all the conflicts in the post-Cold War era have not required the US to engage large portions of the defence industrial base (DIB). In fact, much of the defence-oriented and ‘defence-unique’ industries experienced unprecedented consolidation in the past 10–15 years. Has this left the US able to engage, fight, sustain and win large-scale engagements or even the engagements that we currently are fighting? Has the age of information caused the requirement for large tactical formations on the battlefield to disappear?

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