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Jacques S. Gansler

Jacques S. Gansler is the author of the influential books The Defense Industry (1980), Affording Defense (1989), and Defense Conversion: Transforming the Arsenal of Democracy (1998), all published by the MIT Press. He is currently Professor and Roger C. Lipitz Chair, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, and served as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics from 1997 to 2001.

Titles by This Author

Creating a Twenty-First-Century Defense Industry

New geopolitical realities—including terrorism, pandemics, rogue nuclear states, resource conflicts, insurgencies, mass migration, economic collapse, and cyber attacks—have created a dramatically different national-security environment for America. Twentieth-century defense strategies, technologies, and industrial practices will not meet the security requirements of a post-9/11 world. In Democracy’s Arsenal, Jacques Gansler describes the transformations needed in government and industry to achieve a new, more effective system of national defense. Drawing on his decades of experience in industry, government, and academia, Gansler argues that the old model of ever-increasing defense expenditures on largely outmoded weapons systems must be replaced by a strategy that combines a healthy economy, effective international relations, and a strong (but affordable) national security posture. The defense industry must remake itself to become responsive and relevant to the needs of twenty-first-century security.

Author of two widely-read books on the defense industry, Jacques Gansler takes a hard look at the need to convert the industry from an inefficient and noncompetitive part of the U.S. economy to an integrated, civilian/military operation. He defines the challenges, especially the influence of old-line defense interests, and presents examples of restructuring. Gansler discusses growing foreign involvement, lessons of prior industrial conversions, the best structure for the next century, current barriers to integration, a three-part transformation strategy, the role of technological leadership, and the critical workforce. He concludes by outlining sixteen specific actions for achieving civil/military integration.

In Gansler's view, the end of the Cold War with the former Soviet Union represents a permanent downturn rather than a cyclical decline in the defense budget. He argues that this critical transition period requires a restructuring of the defense acquisitions process to achieve a balance between economic concerns and national security, while maintaining a force size and equipment modernization capable of deterring future conflicts.

Gansler argues that for the defense industry to survive and thrive, the government must make its acquisitions process more flexible, specifically by lowering barriers to integration. This includes, among other things, rethinking the production specifications for new equipment and changing bids for contracts from a cost basis to a price basis.

Gansler point out that by making primarily political and procedural changes (rather than legislative ones), companies will be able to produce technology for both civilian and military markets, instead of exclusively for one or the other as has been the norm. This dual-use approach would save the government billions of dollars annually and would enable the military to diversify by utilizing state-of-the-art equipment.