In the 20th century, the phrase “Arsenal of Democracy” signified more than mere World War II propaganda. America’s industrial base—and the science, technology, engineering and education capabilities that undergirded it—became distinguishing sources of its superpower status, as well as its economic vitality.
Today, the industrial base as a whole is experiencing changes perhaps as never before. Many believe that the industry is at a strategic inflection point where its future can sharply change for better or for worse.
On May 4, the 21st Century Defense Initiative at Brookings held an opening meeting of a working group focusing on the U.S. national security industrial base. The working group comprises experts from academia, industry, the media, Congress, and the Executive Branch. Several short framing presentations were made, with the intention of then eliciting feedback from the group in order to develop an agenda for the rest of the year.