Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More highlights from Day 2: Marion Blakey on Sequestration

Marion Blakey, President and CEO of Aerospace Industries Association, led a forum on Sequestration! Highlights from her presentation below: 

Sequestration...106 days until d-day:
AIA's mission is focused on American military air power.  "We support the warfighter.  We must design the safest and most effective equipment...allowing our pilots the lopsided advantage in the air." Since 1953, not a single American soldier has been lost to an attack from the air.

Dark cloud of sequestration hangs over the defense department.  "It is a foolish policy...kicking the can down the road."  Blakey also added that it was rather unbalanced. "Defense has only 20% of the budget but taking half the cuts."

But strong warnings from everyone fall on deaf ears in Washington.  "It is a travesty, especially in a time of war...it is too big of a cut after we have already taken cuts."

She called it a demolition, not a deficit reduction. "No way to rationally work out solutions with chainsaw approach."

While the "Pivot to the Pacific" has been underway for quite some time, Secretary Panetta has said sequestration will make that pivot un-executable.

In addition, studies show major segments of the defense industry would not be able to sustain advantage and in some cases leave major gaps in our defense industry.  Small businesses would be hit the hardest. Research and development will be hit hard.  Skills will be lost that we will not be able to recover from.

"It is a threat to the nation...not a political campaign.  The biggest threat is doing nothing."

[www.secondtonone.org explains more.]

Highlights from the Q/A between Ms. Blakey and the audience:

Q: What can the defense industry do to remain strong?

A: Pressure on defense budgets regardless of sequestration...must have a robust strategy for international partnering in the world.  30 percent export goal...must have a strategy and we currently don't.

Q: What would you replace Sequestration with?

A: Defense shouldn't be offering alternatives...they are executives, not elected representatives.

Q: If sequestration occurs...how long would it take to recover?

A: Tough question...speculative.  Depends on how long it goes on.

Q: What would you do if contracts were terminated for convenience to avoid penalty fees?

A: We expect to be treated fairly.  Don't deal with rumors.

Q: Any wiggle room in the law?

A: None that I see.

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