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One-Stop Defense Shopping

More regulations and bureaucratic restrictions on contractors are not the answer. Instead, we need a bold strategy to reverse consolidation and a vigorous debate of the consequences of globalization for U.S. security.

The military has an even greater need today for competitive diversity among its suppliers than it did during the Cold War; our nation must prepare for two very different types of war, one conventional and the other aimed at insurgencies and terrorists. This requires a larger, more diversified base of prime contractors and suppliers.

The advent of a new administration provides a golden opportunity to discuss how to reinvigorate the U.S. defense industrial base. Will our nation's leaders recognize this problem and find lasting ways to mitigate the effects of our consolidated defense market, or will we allow the new president and Congress to muddle through by forcing competition in a global market, legislating marginal solutions and tightening controls?

Even the best procurement process will not solve this problem. Unless we act soon, we may find that the only solutions available will be to nationalize the military industrial base or to "outsource" production of our weapons systems, with excessive portions of that work going overseas.

We are, carelessly and unwittingly, meandering down both paths.

Dov S. Zakheim and Ronald T. Kadish are vice presidents of the strategy and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. Zakheim, who leads Booz Allen Hamilton's work for global defense clients, was undersecretary of defense from 2001 to 2004. Kadish, who specializes in the company's work for U.S. Air Force, Defense Department and industrial clients, was director of the Missile Defense Agency from 2000 to 2005.


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