Blakey: Pentagon Budget Would Be a 'Direct Hit' to Aerospace and Defense Industry

Feb. 13, 2012
Some 350,000 jobs hang in the balance, asserts the head of the Aerospace Industries Association.

The Pentagon's fiscal year 2013 budget request -- which puts the brakes on military spending after a decade of steady increases -- would jeopardize the jobs of hundreds of thousands of skilled workers, Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion Blakey said.

The Defense Department on Monday unveiled a $613 billion budget proposal, calling the request "a disciplined use of defense dollars." The mushrooming budget deficit in Washington has forced military leaders to scale back projected spending by $487 billion over the next decade.

Blakey asserted that the budget request "is not a shot over the bow of the American aerospace and defense worker -- it's a direct hit."

"The solution to our country's budget crisis does not lie in further indiscriminate cuts to defense that put our country at risk and will throw hundreds of thousands of skilled workers out of their jobs," Blakey said in a news release.

In and of itself, the projected 10-year, $487 billion cut to the defense budget would reduce the Pentagon's military buying power by $20 billion in 2013, Blakey noted.

"The American warfighter and our national security are not the only victims of this first, drastic result of the 2011 Budget Control Act," she said.

"The budget released today takes direct aim at the first wave of 350,000 aerospace and defense workers who will be out of work if Congress does not find a solution to the sequestration trigger being pulled in 321 days.

"In the meantime, hundreds of companies that together form the 'defense industrial base' have already begun to downsize in response to the cuts already enacted."

Because "sequestration-driven budget cuts" likely would affect the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA as well, Blakey asserted that additional aerospace workers in all 50 states would "share the pain of those 350,000 employees projected to be jobless following a $1 trillion cut to the defense budget."

Reforming entitlement programs and tax policies "are the only answers" to Washington's multitrillion-dollar budget deficit, Blakey said, adding that cutting spending on the FAA's NextGen air-traffic-management system only would "reverse progress toward safer, more efficient air travel."

"The notion that adequate spending on our country's defense, infrastructure and future in space is in any way 'discretionary' is, simply put, dangerous," Blakey asserted.

With the elections just months away, Blakey added that current and aspiring politicians will have to answer to the 1 million aerospace and defense workers in the United States, who will ask, "'Are those we elect to office prepared to make the tough decisions on realistic, long-term budget reform?'"

"The thousands of aerospace and defense workers who find themselves out of work this year as a result of the budget crisis will undoubtedly be the first to demand an answer," Blakey added.

About the Author

Josh Cable | Former Senior Editor

Former Senior Editor Josh Cable covered innovation issues -- including trends and best practices in R&D, process improvement and product development. He also reported on the best practices of the most successful companies and executives in the world of transportation manufacturing, which encompasses the aerospace, automotive, rail and shipbuilding sectors. 

Josh also led the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame, IW’s annual tribute to the most influential executives and thought leaders in U.S. manufacturing history.

Before joining IndustryWeek, Josh was the editor-in-chief of Penton Media’s Government Product News and Government Procurement. He also was an award-winning beat reporter for several small newspapers in Northeast Ohio.

Josh received his BFA in creative writing from Bowling Green University, and continued his professional development through course-work at Ohio University and Cuyahoga Community College.

A lifelong resident of the Buckeye State, Josh currently lives in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. When the weather cooperates, you’ll find him riding his bike to work, exercising his green thumb in the backyard or playing ultimate Frisbee.  

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