?Surge’ Conference Highlights Critical Shortages

May 4, 2006 – “The fact that the United States no longer manufactures a battlefield tank is almost unthinkable when you consider the kind of world we’re living in today,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger after a two-day meeting with dozens of business, labor and policy experts to examine the future of U.S. defense manufacturing capabilities.

The “Surge Roundtable” opened at IAM headquarters in Upper Marlboro, MD seeking answers to two basic questions: First, will the U.S. have the unique tooling to manufacture the means of its own defense in seven to ten years, and second, will the U.S. still have a workforce capable of operating those unique tools by then?

“The disturbing answer to both questions is clearly ‘no’,” said Buffenbarger. “From ships to aircraft to land-based weapons systems, we have traded home grown expertise and capability for low cost foreign suppliers and a questionable supply chain that makes us vulnerable in a way we never were before.”

Despite the diverse background of those attending the conference, there was broad agreement on the need to secure the industrial base required for America’s defense and on the importance of providing alternative career paths for the next generation of industrial workers. Click here to view interviews with Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England and other roundtable participants.