by Allen B. West via Next Generation TV
The terrain at the bottom of the “fiscal cliff” may be the next battlefield for the U.S. military if across-the-board budget cuts kick in March 1.
The pending sequestration mandated by federal law would force hundreds of thousands of civilian Defense Department workers into furloughs, threaten states where defense contractors fuel the economy, and drive innovators to other countries or other industries in search of work.
“When this begins to hit, I think it’s going to be jaw-dropping,” Aerospace Industries Association president and CEO Marion Blakey said in an interview with Allen West of Next Generation TV.
“We are, as an industry, the arsenal of democracy,” she said. “We do research, develop and manufacture the technology that ensures that we don’t have a level playing field when we go into battle or when we’re threatened.”
Blakey, a former administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, said sequestration would affect all AIA members but, more importantly, “it affects our defense and national security.”
Furloughs implemented on a rolling basis would have “a massive impact to our readiness and how effective we can be,” she said. And the indiscriminate approach to cutting federal spending would impact “both the most important [military programs] and those that perhaps could be put on the backburner.”
Delaying any programs also means they ultimately will cost more, Blakey warned, and both the United States and allies who stand to benefit from programs like the Joint Strike Fighter would lose a step.
The long-term consequences of sequestration could include a lack of interest in the next generation to pursue jobs in the defense and aerospace industries.
“Aerospace engineering is exciting,” Blakey said. “But right now, for the first time in the history of flight, there is no military aircraft in design. None. So what are you going to work on? Where are the challenges going to be?”
Watch the full interview for more of Blakey’s thoughts on the “brain drain” to come from sequestration and the overall impact on innovation in America.